The Tragic Life and Death of Actress Sharon Tate

Herbie J Pilato

According to BLAKE BAKKILA of, some are still questioning whether or not actress Sharon Tate is still alive. As Bakkila observed in 2019, in the film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, directed by Quentin Tarantino, "Margot Robbie portrays Sharon Tate, so she's been popping up in the news a lot lately. The film showed how a washed-up actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) cross paths with the plotting Manson family members. You'll have to see how Tarantino rewrote history, but take note that the real story had a different ending."

Bakkila went on to document how, in August 1969, Tate, a then-aspiring actress, "should have been making headlines for her upcoming films, or perhaps the birth of her first child. Instead, everyone was shocked to hear that Charles Manson's followers murdered her in her Los Angeles home. Her story has been retold in Hollywood films and TV series near-countless times, but it’s important to remember the true story of Sharon Tate."

"Sharon Tate was born in Dallas in 1943, Bakkila continued to report. "As part of a military family, she moved around a lot, and she even attended high school in Italy. She went on to win beauty pageants and was even crowned Homecoming Queen. When she finally made it to Hollywood around the age of 20, she took on small roles in popular TV shows like The Beverly Hillbillies and Mister Ed.

"In the mid-'60s, producer Martin Ransohoff introduced Tate to Polish actor and director Roman Polanski. They fell in love and got married in January 1968. By then, Tate was an up-and-coming 26-year-old movie actress, best known for her role as Jennifer North in 1967’s Valley of the Dolls.

"In August 1969, the newlywed couple were set to welcome a baby in just a few weeks, as Tate was more than eight months pregnant. But while hanging out with friends in her Los Angeles mansion one night, she died during what is now referred to as the Manson murders."

The day after her murder, The New York Times described her as, “one of Hollywood's most promising young starlets, even though her television and film appearances were not primarily in leading roles.”

As Bakkila went on to chronicle, Tate's "now-infamous home was located at 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon. The only connection that links Charles Manson, his cult, and the home is Charles' relationship with music producer Terry Melcher, who lived there with his then-girlfriend, actress Candice Bergen, before Tate and Polanski bought the home.

"Manson reportedly knew Melcher — who had rejected his auditions for a music career — was no longer living there, and there was no clear motive. In the early morning hours of August 9, 1969, Manson “family members” Charles 'Tex' Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins, and Linda Kasabian (who went on to act as the state’s key witness against her fellow cult followers) drove to the home and found Tate and her friends: celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring, Folger's coffee heiress Abigail Folger, and her boyfriend Voytek Frykowski.

"Steven Parent, a teenager who was friends with the house’s caretaker, was also killed while driving away from Tate and Polanski's home.

"The following day, the group — allegedly joined by Manson Leslie Van Houten — also murdered Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles.

"Manson was sentenced to life in prison without parole and died at the age of 83 in 2017. He allegedly did not kill anyone in the Cielo Drive murder spree, but he was indicted and convicted for the Tate-LaBianca murders (and later, two more murders). He reportedly believed that The Beatles' song 'Helter Skelter' alluded to a race war, and that's why he ordered those Family members to go to Cielo Drive. Manson, Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel, and Van Houten were sentenced to death, but that changed to life imprisonment when the death penalty was abolished in California in 1972.

"Watson was convicted of seven counts of first-degree murder and remains in prison. Atkins, who testified (and later denied) that she had stabbed and killed Tate, had terminal brain cancer and died in prison in 2009. Krenwinkel and Van Houten, who was 19 when she participated in the murders of the LaBiancas, are also still in prison," Bakkila concluded.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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