Hollywood's Reign of Terror -- The Tate - Lennon Murders.
(The vintage magazine discusses both the Tate murders and that of the Lennon Sisters family murders. I'll focus on Sharon for obvious reasons and because the article is rather lengthy and you have to take a grain of salt when you read it.)
"I love America, and I love working, but I am frightened by the violence. Nowhere else in the world--Italy, France, England--do you see such violence!"
These were the words of Roman Polanski, the brilliant 36 year-old Pole who directed Rosemary's Baby.
Roman Polanski's beautiful movie star wife, 26-year-old Sharon Tate, was stabbed to death, along with their unborn son and three of their closest friends, in their Benedict Canyon Hollywood Mansion, early on Saturday morning, August 9th. Sharon (as were the Lennon Sisters' dad) were buried at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Cemetery.
The Polanskis enjoyed all the wild excitement of Hollywood's hip youth scene. In fact, he was almost too exciting for her, and their first encounter in London in 1965 was almost their last. He invited her to dinner in his home, when she came to him for a part in his horror-comedy, The Fearless Vampire Killers. In part of a screen test, he suddenly reared up behind her, wearing a Frankenstein mask and making horrible monster noises in his gloomy, shadowy dining room. Naturally, she screamed hysterically. He decided that she had expressed just the right reactions for the role. She, in turn, decided that the long-haired director was the craziest nut she'd ever met!
But soon she realized that his eccentricity was that of genius. They fell deeply in love, and by the time she went back to Hollywood to star in Valley of the Dolls, she was telling everyone about the affair. "He is my first real, serious romance!" she exclaimed. "He is so strong, so true, so honest. But at the same time he leaves me free to be myself. He's also very sexy, because what makes a man sexy to me is vitality and intelligence." They had a beach house in Hollywood, where they lived together, and they enjoyed going into the desert to race his car. They always kept a home in London, too. Sharon loved the new freedom and tolerance there.
For the first time in three years, Sharon insisted, "I'm not going to spoil a great affair by turning it into a mediocre marriage, for convention's sake." She had been born in Texas, but as the daughter of a career army officer, Colonel Paul Tate, she was educated in Europe. She explained, "I have the European attitude towards sex and life in general. Everything is so much more liberal and open over there."
By January 20, 1968, they had decided they could have a great marriage too. The wedding was held in a London registry office, with a star-studded reception in the Playboy Club.
Instead of competing with each other, the Polanskis were always trying to help each other succeed. Sharon often visited the set of Rosemary's Baby, the movie which made him America's most famous director. Valley of the Dolls failed to make her an equally-famous star, even though she'd been built up before hand as "the next Marilyn Monroe," and possessed a perfect, immaculate beauty. But Roman always had enthusiastic faith in her. He tried to get her the role of Rosemary, then encouraged her to appear in The Wrecking Crew with Dean Martin, and he sent her to Rome to make 13 Chairs. They celebrated her return with a gala party; all the guests noticed how happy the Polanskis were and how much in love.
She went with him to London, where he was working on The Day of the Dolphin. He ran into a problem there. When her little Yorkshire terrier, 'Saperstein,' was run over by a car, Roman couldn't find a way to break the sad news to the tender hearted girl. He finally told her that her pet had run away, as he handed her an identical dog. After Sharon died, Roman kept repeating, "She was such a good person." That wasn't just a husband's opinion. Even a notorious woman-hater like Mort Sahl described her, during her lifetime as "a very nice girl."
Sharon and Roman were looking forward very eagerly to the birth of their first child. They hardly ever talked about anything else. Sharon left London a few days early, by boat, because she didn't want to fly during her eighth month. Roman planned to be home in time for the birth, and he hired an Irish nanny for the child. He was also looking forward to his own birthday on August 18, because Sharon was planning another big party for him.
Because he didn't want her to wait for him all alone, he asked some friends to come and stay with her, Voytech Frykowski, who'd been his movie partner in Poland, and Frykowski's girl friend, Abigail Folger, who was doing social work in Watts, even though she was the heiress to the coffee company. The famous men's hairstylist Jay Sebring, who had been Sharon's boy friend before she met Polanski, was also visiting them on the fatal night. They became her companions in death.
(There is a complete rundown of the murders and how the victims were found. There is also a mention of drugs and black magic and the article says: "Roman had a brilliant, original, searching mind and his movies all showed a strong interest in the macabre. At the Polanski's last party, Sharon had wore a transparent white gown... While Sharon and Roman were a very devoted couple, they were also a very unconventional one." I'd take some of that with a grain of salt.)
The shocking facts gave rise to rumors. Roman had to defend his dead wife's honor in the midst of his own grief. Through his partner, Gene Gutowski, he sternly told the press, "Jay Sebring was a close and dear friend of both Sharon and Roman. It was wrong to suggest that there was any romantic involvement at this time between Sharon and Jay. Sharon and Roman were a storybook couple, deeply in love. She was very devoted to him, and he was very protective of her." Jay originally planned to bring his own girl, Connie Kreski, a starlet and Playboy Magazine Playmate of the Year.
Gutowski also insisted, "There was no party going on, and Sharon and the others were rational, nice people, not Hippies or cultists. What happened to them could have happened to anyone, as it did to the Clutters in Kansas."
(There is more falseness in the next part about mutilated bodies that are just not true, so I will not include them here.)
Roman Polanski was obviously in no condition to say anything to the press himself. It was hours before he was composed enough to talk to the police. He had taken the first plane from London, but he was under deep sedation from the time Gutowski gave him the news, and he cried, "They have killed my wife and baby!"
The drugs did not dull his grief. He sobbed through Sharon's funeral, and knelt to kiss the casket, as Sharon's mother tried to comfort him by sadly patting his head. By the time he arrived at Jay's funeral, he ws so near collapse that he needed two friends to support him. In his bitterness and heartbreak, his is now planning to leave Hollywood forever, and stay in London.
Both his love and his fear (of America) have been justified.
He came to us as an immigrant, bringing his talent and energy--they won him a beautiful movie star wife, exciting friends, and a Hollywood mansion--and thus he helped prove that our cherished American dream can still come true. How shameful it is that for Roman Polanski, the great American dream has ended in a nightmare.
(The next part is all about the Lennon Sisters and their family and their father, who was shot to death.)
(The article also mentions the LaBianca's murders and how Garretson had been taken into custody but since there was no evidence to be found against him, he was released. Speaking about the LaBianca's the article says, "So a third family--not related to show business at all--helped to prove the dreadful moral of Hollywood's reign of terror--that violence can strike anyone, anywhere, regardless of his character or way of life.")
The Polanskis and the Lennons--the most modern and the most conventional--the most daring and the most devout--the most glamorous and the most typical--neither were spared.
If you want to write condolence letters to the bereaved, expressing your own sympathy, you can send them to Roman Polanski, c/o Rogers, Cowan & Brenner Public Relations, 250 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, California, and for the Lennon Sisters, c/o Jay Bernstein Public Relations, 9110 Sunset, Beverly Hills, California.
Apparently, Roman Polanski won some damages in his case against the press but not as much as he had hoped:
Not sure if Roman and Sharon knew him but another great from the Sixties has passed away. "Love Story" Author Eric Segal dies at 72: