Sharon Tate : Helter Skelter

Sharon Marie Tate Jan 24, 1943 – Aug 9, 1969

The talented and beautiful Sharon Tate has been forever typecast into one role: murder victim. She was brutally killed on a hot night in August 1969 by members of the Manson Family, a gang of hippies living as low life thieves and panderers.

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Sharon’s career started to take off in early 1963 when she was cast in the role of Janet in the Beverly Hillbillies (1963-65). Sharon met Roman Polanski (director of Rosemary’s Baby) while on location for Eye Of The Devil in 1965. She fell in love with him during the filming of The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967). Once filming wrapped, they got a home in Santa Monica and shortly thereafter she began filming Valley of the Dolls as Jennifer North, her most well-known role. The wedding soon followed with a ceremony in London in January 1968. She was 24 and he was 35.

In February 1969, the two leased a lovely ranch style home off Benedict Canyon Rd. at 10050 Cielo Drive. The home was owned by Terry Melcher, who had recently shared the home with his then girlfriend Candice Bergen. Melcher, whose mother you may recall… Doris Day, was very influential in shaping the 1960s California surf rock music culture. He produced The Byrds’ number one smash hits, “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!”, both in 1965 and later went on to produce the Doris Day Show.

It is seldom publisized but well known that the leader of the Manson Family, Charles “Charlie” Manson, chose the Polanski house because it was known to Charlie to be the home of Terry Melcher. Melcher had a strong association with the popular musicians The Beach Boys. Beach Boy Dennis Wilson had met Manson after picking up two girls from the “family” hitchhiking. Shortly thereafter, Manson and the “family” moved into Wilson’s home. Wilson was impressed enough with Charlie’s song writing skills that he introduced Manson to Terry Melcher. They would meet with Melcher at his Cielo Drive home. The Beach Boys would later go on to record two of Manson’s songs. Manson thought he was going to have a music career and Melcher was going to help him. When Melcher refused, Manson sought revenge.

Revenge was executed just after midnight on August 9, 1969 when four members of the Manson Family, cut the phone lines, climbed a hillside and forced their way in to the Cielo Drive home, murdering Sharon Tate, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, internationally known hairdresser to the stars Jay Sebring, writer Wojciech “Wojtek” Frykowski, and teen Steven Parent who was a guest of the grounds caretaker. The Polanskis were expecting a son and the near 9 month old fetus passed away at this time as well.

Manson and his gang had made at least one visit to the home after Melcher had moved and had been turned away on the basis that Terry no longer lived there. Manson wanted the crime committed anyway as a means to send a message to Melcher.

It was a gruesome scene with Sharon and Jay inside, Sharon’s houseguests Abigail and Voytek on the lawn and Steven in his car. The murderous crew viciously stabbed their victums, shot at least one of them and wrote the word “PIG” in Sharon’s blood on the front door. Roman Polanski was in Europe when the tragic events happened. Other Manson Family revenge murders were also committed in the days preceeding and following this horrible crime.

Another theory was that one of the Manson clan had been burned for $1,000 worth of the drug MDA, the very same drug rumored to be distrubted by Frykowski. Consequently, a small amount of drugs were found in Frykowski’s posessions the night of the murder but what type of drugs is not known by the author.

The parties involved in the killing were later caught, charged and convicted on multiple counts of murder and the rest will go down in history as one of the most brutal murders and sensational trials on California’s record.

Front Door of 10050 Cielo Drive – the old Helter Skelter murder house The last known resident of the infamous Cielo Drive home was Trent Reznor of the band Nine In Nails (NIN). Reznor rented the home (learning after that it was the Helter Skelter house) and created a studio to record several projects including NIN’s The Downward Spiral, Broken EP and Marilyn Manson’s Portrait of an American Family. The studio was named Le Pig Studios after the murderous scrawl left on the front door. Upon a chance meeting with Sharon tate’s sister, Trent’s perspective changed and soon thereafter moved from the home in December 1993. Constant curious tourist traffic angered nearby residents, and shrines of dead roses and lit candles convinced the current owners to demolish the residence. This was done in 1994 and a new Mediterranean-style mansion named Villa Bella was built in it’s place. The address has also been changed to 10066 Cielo Drive.

Before the house was torn down, Reznor came back and removed the front door as a momento, which he installed at his state-of-the-art studio in New Orleans, housed in a building that had once been a funeral home.

Learn how Sharon was warned of her death by Paul Bern’s ghost at Jean Harlow’s old house, CLICK HERE

RESOURCES:
The Hollywood Book of Death by James Robert Parish, The Hollywood Book Of Scandals by James Robert Parish, The Ultimate Hollywood Tour Book by William A. Gordon, and California Babylon by Kristan Lawson and Anneli Rufus and IMDB, Wikipedia, cielodrive.com and HouseFront

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