Sharon Tate, an enchanting figure whose allure and talent left an indelible mark on Hollywood, lives on in the hearts and memories of cinephiles around the world.
This article takes you on a captivating journey into the life of Sharon Tate, offering an intimate glimpse through a collection of vintage photographs, including the haunting final images captured before her tragic and untimely murder by members of the Manson Family.
Sharon Marie Tate was born on January 24, 1943, in Dallas, Texas. Raised in a military family, Tate’s early years were marked by frequent relocations, which exposed her to various cultures and nurtured her adaptable nature.
With a deep-rooted passion for beauty and the performing arts, Tate pursued her dreams of becoming an actress, studying at the Verona School of Acting in Italy and later attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.
Tate’s journey to stardom began in Los Angeles, where she sought opportunities in the entertainment industry.
Her striking looks and innate talent led to a successful career as a model, gracing magazine covers and capturing the attention of industry insiders.
It wasn’t long before the doors to Hollywood swung open, paving the way for her remarkable rise.
She made her film debut in 1961 as an extra in Barabbas with Anthony Quinn. She next appeared in the horror film Eye of the Devil (1966).
Her first major role was as Jennifer North in the 1967 film Valley of the Dolls, which earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination.
That year, she also performed in the film The Fearless Vampire Killers, directed by her future husband Roman Polanski. Tate’s last completed film, 12+1, was released posthumously in 1969.
Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski first crossed paths in 1967 while working on the film “The Fearless Vampire Killers.”
Tate, an aspiring actress on the brink of stardom, was captivated by Polanski’s talent as a director, and he, in turn, was drawn to her radiant beauty and undeniable charm.
Their initial encounter would mark the beginning of a whirlwind romance that would reshape both of their lives.
They were married in Chelsea, London, on January 20, 1968, with considerable publicity. Polanski was dressed in “Edwardian finery” while Tate was attired in a white minidress. The couple moved into Polanski’s mews house off Eaton Square in Belgravia, London.
Photographer Peter Evans described them as “the imperfect couple. They were the Douglas Fairbanks/Mary Pickford of our time…. Cool, nomadic, talented, and nicely shocking”.
Tate reportedly wanted a traditional marriage but Polanski remained promiscuous and described her attitude to his infidelity as “Sharon’s big hang-up”.
He reminded her that she had promised not to change him. Tate accepted his conditions, though she confided to friends that she hoped that he would change.
Peter Evans quoted Tate as saying, “We have a good arrangement. Roman lies to me and I pretend to believe him.”
The joy and promise of Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski’s marriage were abruptly shattered on the fateful night of August 8, 1969.
That night, Sharon along with her friends Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski and Abigail Folger were murdered by members of The Manson Family at her home in Los Angeles. Steven Parent an 18-year-old who was visiting the home’s caretaker was also killed on the property.
Sharon pleaded with the killers to spare her life for the sake of her unborn child due in two weeks. One of Charles Manson’s followers tied a rope around her neck stabbed her 16 times, then dipped a towel in her blood and wrote “PIG” on her front door.
Polanski was informed of the murders and returned to Los Angeles where police questioned him about his wife and her friends.
On Wednesday, August 13, Tate was interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California, with her son Paul Richard Polanski in her arms, named posthumously for his grandfathers.
Life devoted a lengthy article to the murders and featured photographs of the crime scenes. Polanski was interviewed for the article and allowed himself to be photographed at the entrance of the house, next to the front door with the word “PIG” still visible, written in Tate’s blood.
He was widely criticized for the photoshoot, but he argued that he wanted to know who was responsible and was willing to shock the magazine’s readers in the hope that someone would come forward with information.
Curiosity about the victims led to the re-release of Tate’s films, which achieved greater popularity than they had in their initial runs.
Some newspapers began to speculate about the motives for the murders. Some published photographs of Tate were alleged to be taken at a Satanic ritual, but were in fact production photographs from Eye of the Devil.
Friends spoke out against the portrayal of Tate by some elements of the media. Mia Farrow said that she was as “sweet and pure a human being as I have ever known”, while Patty Duke remembered her as “a gentle, gentle creature”.
Polanski berated a crowd of journalists at a news conference, asking them, “Did you ever write how good she was?” Polanski said he began to suspect various friends and associates, and his paranoia subsided only when the killers were arrested.
In September 1969, members of the Manson “Family” were arrested on unrelated charges, eventually leading authorities to a breakthrough on the Tate case, as well.
They explained that the motive for the murders was not the identity of the victims, but rather the house at that address, which had previously been rented to record producer Terry Melcher, an acquaintance of Manson. In 1994, the house was demolished and a new house was constructed on the site.
Last Known Photos of Sharon Tate Taken by Her Friend Jay Sebring Days Before She Was Murdered by the Manson Family
Tate was eight-and-a-half months pregnant at the time of her death, and her friend Jay Sebring was also one of the victims.
(Photo credit: Pinterest / Wikimedia Commons).