Sharon Tate, January 24, 1943 – August 9, 1969
Sharon Marie Tate was born in Dallas, Texas, the eldest of three daughters, to Colonel Paul James Tate (1922-2005), a United States Army officer, and his wife, Doris Gwendolyn (1924-1992). During the 1960’s she played small television roles before appearing in several films. After receiving positive reviews for her comedic performances, she was hailed as one of Hollywood’s promising newcomers and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her performance in “Valley of the Dolls” (1967). She also appeared regularly in fashion magazines as a model and cover girl. Married to film director Roman Polanski in 1968, Sharon Tate was eight and a half months pregnant when she was murdered in her home, along with four friends, by followers of Charles Manson.
THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS
In 1963 Sharon was introduced to Martin Ransohoff, director of Filmways, Inc., who signed her to a seven-year contract, but kept her under wraps until he felt she was ready to appear in substantial film roles. “Mr. Ransohoff didn’t want the audience to see me till I was ready”, Sharon was quoted in a 1967 article in Playboy magazine. She continued to gain experience with minor television appearances, until late 1965 when Ransohoff finally gave Sharon her first major role in a motion picture in the film “Eye of the Devil”, co-starring David Niven, Deborah Kerr, Donald Pleasence, and David Hemmings. Sharon was dating Jay Sebring, a former sailor who had established himself as a leading hair stylist in Hollywood. Much of the filming took place in France, and Sebring returned to Los Angeles to fulfill his business obligations. After filming, Sharon remained in London where she immersed herself in the fashion world and nightclubs. Around this time she met Roman Polanski.
Sharon Tate and Polanski later agreed that neither of them had been impressed by the other when they first met. Polanski was planning “The Fearless Vampire Killers”, which was being co-produced by Ransohoff, and had decided that he wanted the red-headed actress Jill St. John for the female lead. Ransohoff insisted that Polanski cast Sharon, and after meeting with her, he agreed that she would be suitable on the condition that she wore a red wig during filming.
The company traveled to Italy for filming where Sharon Tate’s fluent Italian proved useful in communicating with the local crew members. A perfectionist, Polanski had little patience with the inexperienced Tate, and said in an interview that one scene had required seventy takes before he was satisfied. In addition to directing, Polanski also played Alfred, one of the main characters, a guileless young man who is intrigued by Sarah Shagal, Sharon Tate’s character, and begins a romance with her.
The film is set in the heart of Transylvania where Professor Abronsius, of the University of Königsberg, and his apprentice Alfred are on the hunt for vampires. Abronsius is old and withering and barely able to survive the cold ride through the wintry forests, while Alfred is bumbling and introverted. The two hunters come to a small Eastern European town seemingly at the end of a long search for signs of vampires. The two stay at a local inn, full of angst-ridden townspeople who perform strange rituals to fend off an unseen evil. Whilst staying at the inn, Alfred develops a fondness for Sarah, the daughter of the tavern keeper Yoine Shagal.
After witnessing Sarah being kidnapped by the local vampire lord, Count von Krolock, the two follow his snow trail, leading them to Krolock’s ominous castle in the snow-blanketed hills nearby. They break into the castle, but are trapped by the Count’s hunchback servant, Koukol. Upon being taken to see the count, he affects an air of aristocratic dignity whilst he cleverly questions Abronsius about why he has come to the castle. They also encounter the Count’s son, the foppish (and homosexual) Herbert. Meanwhile, Shagal himself has been vampirized and sets on his plan to turn Magda, the tavern’s beautiful maidservant and the object of his lust while he was still human, into his vampire bride.
Despite misgivings, Abronsius and Alfred accept the Count’s invitation to stay in his ramshackle Gothic castle, where Alfred spends the night fitfully. The next morning, Abronsius plans to find the castle crypt and kill the Count, seemingly forgetting about the fate of Sarah. The crypt is guarded by the hunchback, so after some wandering they climb in through a roof window. However, Abronsius gets stuck in the window; and it is up to Alfred to kill the Count, which he feels unable to do. He has to go back outside to free Abronsius, but on the way he comes upon Sarah having a bath in her room. She seems oblivious to her danger when he pleads for her to come away with him, and reveals that a ball is to take place this very night. After briefly taking his eyes of her, Alfred turns to find Sarah vanished into thin air.
After freeing Abronsius, who is half frozen, they re-enter the castle. Alfred again seeks Sarah but meets Herbert instead, who first attempts to seduce him and then, after Alfred realizes that Herbert’s reflection does not show in the mirror, reveals his vampire nature and attempts to bite him. Abronsius and Alfred flee from Herbert through a dark stairway to safety, only to be trapped behind a locked door on a turret. As night is falling, they become horrified witnesses as the gravestones below open up to reveal a huge number of vampires at the castle, who hibernate and meet once a year only to feast upon any captives the Count has provided for them. The Count appears, mocking them and tells them their fate is sealed. He leaves them to attend a dance, where Sarah will be presented as the next vampire victim.
However, the hunters escape by firing a cannon at the door by substituting steam pressure for gunpowder, and come to the dance in disguise, where they grab Sarah and flee. Escaping by horse carriage, they are now unaware that it is too late for Sarah, who awakens in mid-flight as a vampire and bites Alfred, thus allowing vampires to be released into the world.
Read more about the film on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fearless_Vampire_Killers.
As filming progressed, Polanski praised her performances and her confidence grew. They began a relationship, and Sharon moved into Polanski’s London apartment after filming ended. Jay Sebring traveled to London where he insisted on meeting Polanski. Although friends later said he was devastated, he befriended Polanski and remained Sharon Tate’s closest confidante. Polanski later commented that Sebring was a lonely and isolated person, who viewed Tate and himself as his family.
MARRIAGE AND DEATH
In late 1967, Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski returned to London, and were frequent subjects of newspaper and magazine articles.
Sharon was depicted as being untraditional and modern, and was quoted as saying that couples should live together before marrying. They were married in Chelsea, London on January 20, 1968 with considerable publicity. Polanski was dressed in what the press described as “Edwardian finery,” while Sharon was attired in a white minidress. The couple moved into Polanski’s mews house off Eaton Square in Belgravia.
Photographer Peter Evans later described them as “the imperfect couple. They were the Douglas Fairbanks/Mary Pickford of our time… Cool, nomadic, talented and nicely shocking.”
In the summer of 1968, Sharon Tate began her next film, “The Wrecking Crew” (1969), a comedy in which she played Freya Carlson, an accident-prone spy, who was also a romantic interest for star Dean Martin, playing Matt Helm. She performed her own stunts and was taught martial arts by Bruce Lee. The film was successful and brought Sharon strong reviews, with many reviewers praising her comedic performance. Her career was beginning to accelerate and for her next film, Sharon negotiated a fee of $150,000. She became pregnant near the end of 1968, and on February 15, 1969 Sharon and Polanski moved to 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon.
Encouraged by positive reviews of her comedic performances, Sharon chose the comedy “The Thirteen Chairs” as her next project, as she later explained, largely for the opportunity to co-star with Orson Welles.
She returned from London to Los Angeles, on July 20, 1969, traveling alone on the Queen Elizabeth 2. Polanski was due to return on August 12 in time for the birth. On August 8, 1969, Sharon was two weeks from giving birth. She entertained two friends, actresses Joanna Pettet and Barbara Lewis, for lunch at her home, confiding in them her disappointment at Polanski’s delay in returning from London. In the afternoon Polanski telephoned her. Her younger sister Debra also called to ask if she and their sister Patti could spend the night with her, but Sharon declined.
In the evening she went to her favorite restaurant, El Coyote, with Jay Sebring, Wojtek Frykowski (playboy) and Abigail Folger (coffee empire heiress). The group would then return to her home at 10050 Cielo Drive at about 10:30 p.m. During the night, they were murdered by members of Charles Manson’s “family” and their bodies discovered the following morning by Sharon’s housekeeper, Winifred Chapman. Police arrived at the scene to find the body of a young man, later identified as Steven Parent, shot dead in his car, which was in the driveway. Inside the house, the bodies of Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring were found in the living room; a long rope tied around each of their necks connected them. On the front lawn lay the bodies of Frykowski and Folger. All of the victims, except Parent, had been stabbed numerous times. The coroner’s report for Tate noted that she had been stabbed sixteen times, and that “five of the wounds were in and of themselves fatal”.
Read more on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharon_Tate wikipedia
Visit Sharon Tate Official Site: http://www.sharontate.net/index.html
SEE ON YOUTUBE:
THE KIDNAPPED BATHROOM SCENE FROM “THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS”:
ALFRED FINDS SARAH FROM “THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS”:
THE DANCE SCENE FROM “THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS”:
A TRIBUTE TO SHARON TATE: