That Sharon Tate was an extremely beautiful young woman is evident from any picture you see of her. The huge doe eyes, the kilowatt smile, and the mane of sandy blonde hair combines to typify the glamour of 1960’s Hollywood.
But to focus on outer beauty alone would be an insult to Sharon’s character. Among an industry of temperamental starlets, everyone who met the Valley of the Dolls star remarked on how ‘unstarry’ she was. No-one I have spoken to about Sharon, who knew her at the time, could recall a tantrum, a strop or a hissy fit.
Photographer Terry O’Neill, who photographed Sharon during her pregnancy told me ‘Everybody loved Sharon, not just because she was so beautiful; she was a really decent, caring girl, the kind you’d want to take home to meet your mother’.
Indeed Sharon radiated goodness – she loved animals, children, her family, her work. At the time of her death, she had reached a halcyon period of her life – pregnant with a much-wanted son, happily married to the director Roman Polanski and settled in her ‘Love House’ in Cielo Drive in the hills of California.
In August 1969, however, everything changed. 26 year old Sharon and her unborn baby, along with her friends, coffee-heiress Abigail Folger, celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring, Voytek Frykowski and Steven Parent, who was visiting the caretaker of Cielo Drive and was unrelated to the group of people in the main house, were murdered by crazed members of Charles Manson’s family who were randomly ‘creepy-crawling’ (entering) properties in Hollywood.
It has been debated over time how random the attack on the Polanski property was. Charles Manson was linked during his trial with the former tenant of Cielo Drive, Terry Melcher (Doris Day’s son) who had moved out just before the Polanskis moved in. Melcher apparently insulted Manson by going back on a promise to take him on as a recording artist.
Whatever the motive, and i do not wish to dwell on Manson for longer than i have to, it is clear that this remarkable act of savagery robbed the world of Sharon way before her time.
In 2011, I began work on curating the Sharon Tate London Retrospective, which i intended as a tribute to the time Sharon spent in London, and to this happy time in her life.
Unfortunately, finance for the project folded early this year, but who knows what may happen in the future? I hope that the project comes to fruition as i feel it is the very least that Sharon, and her sister Debra – the keeper of the flame of the Tate estate, who has communicated with me about the project over the past year – deserves.
Until then, i hope this article stands as a tribute.
Sharon Tate Official Site http://www.sharontate.net/