CAD Magazine February 1970
Our Life is our Jungle by Bruce Harper
When I encountered vibrant and intense Roman Polanski at Paramount Studios he was in the midst of editing Rosemary’s Baby, the brilliant film on satanism and witchcraft in our time that was to bring worldwide acclaim.
It was the spring of 1968 and the slight, intense, lean, young man who sat next to me at the small table was as happy as he possibly would be in his life.
He was thirty-four and looked ten years younger. He was already a world renowned festival prize winning film director, of Polish origin but now very mobile in the far-flung film world – Paris, London, Rome and now the heart of the industry, Hollywood.
But above all Roman Polanski had just wooed, won and married the unbelievably beautiful and talented young film star, Sharon Tate. If there was one young couple among the beautiful people who had everything going for them – love, immensely successful talent, exciting careers and the unlimited admiration of their peers – it was Sharon and Roman.
At this point a reddish-haired movie-star handsome, turtleneck-sweatered young fellow stopped to say hello to Roman. “Krysztof Komeda,” Roman said, “my composer. He is also a doctor. I told him he better leave the hospital, always rushing for an operation or something, and really stay in music. So he abandoned, of course, the study of medicine.” Polanski pointed to a mark on his upper lip. “I had a cut here,” he said. “He pulled my stitches out. I had a fight in Paris a few days ago, I came back with the stitches and I said, ‘I must have it pulled.’ Kris said ‘All right, I’ll pull it.’ He sat down and cooked the scissors and pulled it out. ‘You can do it so fast,’ I said, ‘I’m going to start being in doubt about the music!’”
I wanted to know about the fight. Did it have anything to do with moviemaking? “The fight?” Polanski responded dryly. “No, I just had a fight on the street. I got married, you know, I was in Paris on my honeymoon with my wife Sharon Tate. We were just going to the cinema. On the street there were three guys going in the opposite direction, and one stuck his hand under my wife’s skirt, so I punched him. And he had the stupid idea to punch me back. He had a little ring on his finger and he cut my lip.” This was instantly more than I expected, this insight into the contrasts shadowing Roman Polanski’s life. He was newly rich, famous, ensconced in that room at the top of his profession, just happily wed to fabulous Sharon Tate – and he had to fight with his fists against three toughs on the streets of Paris!
In Hollywood and London Polanski met Sharon Tate, and his life took on a new radiance. She was five-foot-five, a stunning ash-blonde--so glamorous that producers and directors kept discovering her. First it was director Martin Ritt who met her as a sixteen-year-old nymphet in Venice, where her father was then posted as a colonel in Army Intelligence. “You ought to be in pictures!” Ritt told Sharon, but Papa was against it. But later on a visit to Hollywood she remembered Ritt’s advice and went to agent Hal Gefsky. “All I know is,” he has said of that encounter, “when she walked into the my office she was the most beautiful girl in the world.”
She began making her own way, appearing in TV commercials, trying to break in the hard way. “I was just a piece of merchandise,” she said of that difficult period. “No one cared about me, Sharon.” The producer Martin Ransohoff saw her, signed her and groomed her for a superstar.
Now fate twisted together the bright-and-dark strands of Roman and Sharon’s lives. He was bewitched by the stunning, hypnotic witch (she played one in Eye of the Devil) on the screen and cast Sharon in a film he was then about to make that spoofed the vampire films, titled The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are In My Neck! She romped through this wild satire in a red wig –and nothing else in a fantastic nude scene! This is how Cynan Jones saw her at that buoyant time of her life:
Sharon is the eternal woman, yet paradoxically she twists and turns her lithe body in the eager coltish manner of a careless tomboy. She affects the no-make-up Italian look, except for black eyeliner which serves to emphasize her wide hazel eyes and thick natural eyelashes. She has high cheekbones in an oval pre-Raphaelite face and her coloring is fresh and vivid with natural glowing cheeks. Her usual attire when not working is a huge oatmeal-colored sweater and skin tight jeans… She apparently cares little for clothes – and why should she with such an exquisite healthy body?
Sharon herself once said, “I’m really different underneath. All my life I’ve been told that I’m beautiful. But beauty has nothing to do with me – the real me. Anyway, you can stay covered up to your neck and still be sexy, you know. I would like my image to be somewhat secretive, simple and down-to-earth. I adore the little girl look." But when Roman Polanski entered her life he had still a different idea of her potential. “I’m trying to make her a little meaner,” he said. “She’s too nice and everyone walks all over her. She’s embarrassed by her own beauty.”
For her part, Sharon was fascinated by her brilliant young husband. “When I first met Roman,” she said, “I couldn’t believe he was a director because he looked so young. He’s the youngest looking man for his age I’ve ever seen. But he really isn’t as young as he looks. He’s thirty-five.” Her luminous eyes glowed as she rhapsodized about Roman. “He is wise, wonderful, brilliant and he knows everything! Above all, Roman is an artist.”
An interviewer found that she had “an aura, a magic, a curious mystique . . . a face of extraordinary beauty and a body that won’t quit,” and predicted that Sharon Tate would be with us a long time. It was a just prophesy, if some perverted destiny had not interfered with the right course of things…
Here is another article mentioning the recent vampire craze and it includes Roman and Sharon in The Fearless Vampire Killers:
And another blog includes Sharon as one of the most beautiful women of the 1960s: