Today is the 80th birthday of the actress Sharon Tate. She is in one of the very best films of the 1960s: Valley of the Dolls. Her life was cut far too short nearly 54 years ago at the age of 26. The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.
NAME: Sharon Tate
OCCUPATION: Model, Film Actress, Television Actress
BIRTH DATE: January 24, 1943
HEIGHT: 5′ 6″
DEATH DATE: August 9, 1969
PLACE OF BIRTH: Dallas, Texas
PLACE OF DEATH: Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles, California
REMAINS: Buried, Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, CA
BEST KNOWN FOR: Model and actress Sharon Tate is best remembered for her tragic and untimely death at the hands of followers of murderous cult leader Charles Manson.
Actress Sharon Tate was born on January 24, 1943, in Dallas, Texas. Starting out in Hollywood in the early 1960s, she appeared in a recurring role on the television show The Beverly Hillbillies, and in bit parts in movies, including The Americanization of Emily (1964) and The Sandpiper (1965).
In 1965, she landed her first major movie role, in Eye of the Devil, starring David Niven and Deborah Kerr. After filming the movie in France, she met the movie director Roman Polanski in London, auditioning successfully for his horror spoof, The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967). The couple began a romantic relationship, and were married in January 1968.
Sharon Tate’s breakthrough performance came in the hit 1967 film Valley of the Dolls, based on the best-selling novel by Jacqueline Susann and co-starring Patty Duke and Susan Hayward. Also in 1967, she appeared in Don’t Make Waves with Tony Curtis, and in 1968 had a starring role in the comedy The Wrecking Crew, with Dean Martin. With the success of Valley of the Dolls and Polanski’s creepy thriller, Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Tate and Polanski became one of the most visible couples in Hollywood.
After completing filming on 12 + 1 (released in 1970) in Italy in 1969, Tate returned to Los Angeles, where she and her husband were renting a house on Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon. Polanski remained at the couple’s home in England, working on his latest film. On August 9, 1969, the 26-year-old Tate (then eight and a half months pregnant) was brutally murdered in her home, along with three houseguests, Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring and a friend of the house’s caretaker, Steven Parent, by a group of people who were later revealed to be part of the “Manson family,” a murderous cult driven by the apocalyptic fantasies of its deranged leader, Charles Manson.
Manson and four of his followers were convicted of those murders (along with two others) and sentenced to death in 1971; after California’s temporary abolition of the death penalty in 1972, their sentences were commuted to life imprisonment. One, Susan Atkins, died in prison in 2009, and Manson himself also passed away in late 2017; the rest are still serving life sentences and have repeatedly been denied parole.
By 2018, with the 50th anniversary of the Manson murders drawing close, three feature films about Tate were in the works. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Margot Robbie (as the actress), Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, aimed to incorporate Tate’s death into a larger examination of Tinseltown dynamics of the time. Meanwhile, The Haunting of Sharon Tate, with Hilary Duff, was said to fall into the horror/thriller category, with Tate, starring Kate Bosworth, reportedly to focus on her final day instead of the grisly details of her demise.
The Beverly Hillbillies Janet Trego (irregularly, 1963-65)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
12 + 1 (7-Oct-1969)
The Wrecking Crew (17-Jan-1969)
Valley of the Dolls (15-Dec-1967) · Jennifer North
Eye of the Devil (6-Dec-1967)
The Fearless Vampire Killers (13-Nov-1967) · Sarah, the Innkeeper’s Daughter
Don’t Make Waves (20-Jun-1967)