Wednesday, August 12, 2015

NEAR THE GHOST OF SHARON TATE


 I wrote this several years ago on my old blog Lone Star Concerto and the post (inexplicably) got nearly 4,000 views. I've decided to post it again here.

It has nothing to do with ghosts, and isn't even particularly unique - -  but I still think it's interesting and worthy of a second post, for those who've never read it.

Here it is:


 


 The house on Benedict Canyon in Beverly Hill where
I lived as a young musician. It was located very near
the house where Sharon Tate was murdered.



Everybody has heard about the Sharon Tate murders. If you haven't, look it up and you'll find plenty to read. Here's a quick recap:

In August, 1969, fledgling actress Sharon Tate was savagely murdered in her rented Beverly Hills house, along with four other people. Tate was twenty-six years old and nine months pregnant.

Her husband, movie director Roman Polanski, was in London at the time and due to arrive back in L.A. within a few days. Since Sharon didn't want to be alone during her husband's extended absence, she had invited three friends to stay with her:
Abigail Folger (the coffee heiress), Voytek Frykowski (Folger's lover), and hairdresser Jay Sebring.

A nineteen-year-old boy named Steven Parent was also murdered, simply because he happened to be visiting the caretaker of the house, who lived in a guest house on the premises. Steven Parent didn't know Sharon Tate.

The murders were committed by the  hippie cult "family" members of Charles Manson.
To say that the murders caused a mega media frenzy would be a gross understatement. Sharon Tate and Charles Manson became household names and the L.A. news media feasted on the subject for years. The Manson murder trial was undoubtedly the biggest event in Los Angeles history.



Ill- fated Sharon Tate

So why am I writing this? Because, about a decade after the murders occurred, I lived in a Beverly Hills house that was extremely close to the house where Sharon Tate was murdered.

Sharon Tate and her husband Roman Polanski

I lived on Benedict Canyon Rd. The house where the murders took place was on Cielo Drive, which was only a stone's throw away. Cielo Drive was a narrow road just off of Benedict Canyon, which wound into the nearby hills. The house where Tate and Polanski lived was secretly nestled in the hills. If you didn't know it was there, you'd never notice it.

I knew it was there, of course. I'd even heard  silly rumors about resident ghosts and bad things that happened to people who lived in the vicinity of the murder house.

It might have only been a freak coincidence that I had an auto accident on Benedict Canyon - - directly in front of the cut-off to Cielo Drive, and within walking distance to the Tate-Polanski house.
And it happened  on the 9th of August - -  the anniversary of Sharon Tate's death.


The spot on Benedict Canyon 
where my accident took place.
The 30 MPH sign is in plain view.



I'm pulling out of my driveway on Benedict Canyon late one afternoon. There's a curve in the road and the view is blocked by large juniper trees. As I slowly emerge I'm immediately hit by a speeding Ferrari. The speed limit on the Benedict Canyon curve is 30 MPH. The Ferrari was going at least 65 MPH. The force of the crash was enough to send my modest Ford spinning. 

Major damage to the driver's side of my car.
Substantial damage to the Ferrari. The driver gets out. To my surprise, it's an elderly lady with a long cigarette dangling from her Max Factor red lips. Her face-lift was dragged down with a ferocious frown.

Long story short - -
the old buzzard tried to sue me. I had to make an appearance at the Beverly Hills Courthouse. I politely presented my case, then Miz Ferrari presented hers. The judge couldn't decide what to do. After thoughtful consideration he announced that he thought we were both very nice people and he called it a "draw". Nobody won anything. To this day I still maintain that the lady was sailing at a reckless speed.

At the time I was in my early twenties. I was a musician. I wasn't Perry Mason. I probably didn't present my case with enough passion or flair.

In time I put the unpleasant incident in the distant realm of my memories - - but I always had the strange feeling that being near the Sharon Tate murder house had something to do with my accident and bad luck.
Who knows..........?

The Tate-Polanski murder house on 10050 Cielo Drive was eventually purchased and subsequently torn down. A new mansion presently stands on the spot. The infamous address has also been changed. I happen to know who purchased the property and I know the new address. I think it was wise to expunge the old address and the horrible ghosts of memories.


An unrelated side note:
this was around the time when I used to frequent the Beverly Hills Hotel. I hold the honor of having been kicked out of the famous Polo Lounge twice. Once for being drunk. Once for wearing a cowboy hat.
Ironically, I played the piano at the Beverly Hills Hotel on several occasions.

So much for my (fairly) interesting Beverly Hills days.........


The house on Cielo Drive where the murders occurred in 1969.
It has since been torn down.

27 comments:

  1. I remember reading your post before but it is worth reading again. Interesting!

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    1. Thanks, Paula. I figured it was worth a rerun.

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  2. I, too, recall this (chilling) post. Here I was waiting/hoping for inspiration to say something profound ... to no avail. All these years later, I'm still prone to goosebumps at the mention of Manson.

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    1. It's hard to believe that it happened so long ago. It was a HUGE story in Los Angeles back then - - the local media literally thrived on it for years. Yes, it definitely still inspires goosebumps.

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  3. Most interesting, Jon - and very timely in that just over a week ago I picked up, second hand, a paperback edition of the 1974 book 'Helter Skelter' by Vincent Bugliosi. Of course I remember the incident on the news at the time, though this particular book, written just 5 years after it happened, would surely now need to be hugely revised and re-written in the light of subsequent evidence and findings, but still..... Then just two days ago I re-watched a documentary on the lovely Doris Day (one of my heroines - even moreso in her later years being such an advocate of animal rights) in which it was posited that her then wayward son, who'd got involved with unsavoury characters and who had lived in that house until shortly before the 'event', just may have been the intended principal victim. Anyway, that's all by the by. But now with this post of yours I can see all the signs are pointing me in the direction of reading this book, which until now, was low in the list of priorities, but has now risen to near the top. So thanks for spotlighting this incident. Makes me wonder what I'll find when I read it.

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    1. I'm glad to know that my post has inspired you to read Helter Skelter. As you said, much more information has come to light since it was written, but it's still a fascinating book. I still have a copy of it somewhere.

      Yes, Doris Day's son Terry Melcher was indeed Manson's intended victim. He had lived in the house on Cielo Drive with actress Candice Bergen. It is such a cruel fluke of fate that Polanski and Tate moved in there. Incidentally, Terry Melcher died of cancer about 10 years ago.

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    2. Yes, that Doris Day documentary covered Melcher's untimely passing as well as his freakish motorbike accident. I hadn't realised that it was known for sure that he'd been the intended victim of the Manson killings, which was why I put it rather cagily.
      So, now with your endorsement of 'Helter Skelter', Jon, I've got yet another reason to read it pretty soonish, which I will do as soon as I've finished my current read, the marvellous Maeve Binchy's 'The Copper Beech'. I'll let you know what I think about H.S. Ta for your thoughts!

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  4. I was in a book club back then and couldn't wait to read "Helter Skelter" when it came out.

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    1. I read "Helter Skelter" when it first came out. I was a security officer at that time and I read the book while I was working alone on the midnight shift. Creepy......

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  5. I never could bring myself to read Helter Skelter. I'm sure it would give me nightmares. I did not know that new information had come to light or that Terry Melcher was the intended victim. I remember watching some old horror flick on Seymour where he kept highlighting Sharon Tate when she was in a scene. Sadly I think she found more fame in death than she ever would have in an acting career. I also find it rather odd that I, personally, can't recall the names of the other victims.

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  6. Hey, I remember Seymour.
    Sharon Tate was definitely immortalized by her murder and not by her brief film career. I've seen her in "The Fearless Vampire Killers", "Eye of the Devil", and "Valley of the Dolls."
    Polanski wanted Tate to star in "Rosemary's Baby", but Mia Farrow was selected instead.

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  7. Manson always scared the bejeebies out of me. Then I read your excellent post and wondered how tall he is. Now he just scares the jeeters out of me. I'm still mystfied by his hold on people.

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    1. Charles Manson is only a little crap pot (is that one word or two??). He's only 5' 2" tall. I never could imagine what his attraction was - - but then I realized that all the people who were attracted to him were on drugs. LSD might have made him look taller.

      Manson scares the jeeters and the bejeebies out of me, just because of the way he acts. He's considered to be a notorious killer, but in fact he never killed anybody. He had his cronies do the dirty work for him (like all cowards).

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  8. Was in there during Trent Reznor's/NIN's "PIG" studio recordings. The place was weird, mainly for a studio, but not really creepy. Just felt empty to me. ~~~ NB

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    1. That's truly fascinating! I think Reznor took the front door and put it in the Nothing Studio, didn't he? As far as I remember the place on Cielo was demolished in 1994. The new house is now owned by producer Jeff Franklin.

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  9. Fascinating, and having lived in SoCal I can relate to how much of a story it still is there. Roman Polanski has lived rather a "colourful" life has he not? Do you think that the Tate story still looms larger than the OJ Simpson one? I suppose given that it was so much longer ago and is still such a story, I've answered my own question - yes it is!

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    1. PS - the old bitch in the Ferrari should be ashamed of herself. Given that she was apparently rather well off, how dare she take you to court? And congratulations on getting thrown out of the Polo lounge twice - that's something you don't hear every day!

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    2. Yup, your answer to your question is correct. I think the Tate story will always loom larger than the Simpson one.

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  10. I remember this tale from the first time you posted it, but it's just as interesting now as it was then.

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    1. I didn't think anyone would remember this post - - I'm surprised (and delighted) that you (and they) did.

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  11. If you are going to have a car accident, a Ferrari is the right way to do it, go big or go home as they say.

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    1. A Ferrari makes a far superior crash than a Ford.

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  12. A small world indeed. The next time Pat and I visit LA we'll go up this road.

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  13. By the way, the one auto accident I was in that I had to appear in court had the same outcome: "a draw." Again, small world.

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    1. That's yet another of our many "coincidences".

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  14. Fascinating post! I was a teenager at the time of the murders, living in San Marino, and it was especially creepy to learn that Manson and his "family" had apparently been checking out our little city but thankfully decided to go elsewhere (unfortunate though for Sharon Tate and friends, and Leo LaBianca & spouse). Apparently when they looked in the window of one they saw a family portrait, and didn't want to "do" a family. I have no idea what part of town they were in, but it still gives me the chills.

    BTW, I greatly enjoy the "Cabinet of Curious Treasures." I always look forward to the updates.

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  15. It all seems so long ago now, but I remember that summer very well. It must have been extremely scary to know that they were lurking around your town! I appreciate your input.

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