One of the most somber scenes you’ll ever see, the raw film footage from the NBC News archives of Sharon Tate’s funeral. John and Michelle Phillips, Warren Beatty, Yul Brynner, Doris Tate and a visibly distraught Roman Polanski—he looks like he can barely stand and who could blame him—are seen.
Sharon Tate was interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California, with her unborn son, Paul Richard Polanski, cradled in her arms, on Wednesday, August 13, 1969. I can hardly imagine anything sadder than such an occasion.
The news report as it ran on NBC News can be seen here.
What exactly glamor-modeling has to do with revolutionary consciousness isn’t explained - other than making it fashionably chic to the bourgeoisie. Which is ironic, for it was the perceived, pernicious influence of the bourgeoisie (and its revisionist view of capitalism) that led Chairman Mao to instigate his Cultural Revolution in May 1966. While the ad men, magazine stylists and Beatles co-opted Mao’s revolutionary sentiments, the reality for millions of Chinese was a brutal and murderous oppression.
A Beginner’s Guide to Mao Tse-tung
The little red book which contains hightlights from The thought of Mao Tse-tung is the most influential volume in the world today. It is also extremely dull and entirely unmemorable. To resolve this paradox, we, a handful of editors in authority who follow the capitalist road, thought useful to illustrate certain key passages in such a way that they are more likely to stick in the mind. The visual aid is Sharon Tate and, to give credit where credit, God knows, is due, she will soon be seen in the Twentieth Century-Fox motion picture, Valley of the Dolls.
‘Whoever wants to know a thing has no way of doing so except coming into contact with it, that is, by living (practicing) in its environment
...If you want knowledge, you must take part in the practice of reality. If you want to know the taste of a pear by eating it yourself.’ “On Practice” (July, 1937)
Sharon Tate takes Merv Griffin on a tour of swinging London’s Carnaby Street, in August 1966.
A poignant piece of TV history capturing much of the innocence, idealism, and happiness that seemed to infuse the sixties. All of which is usurped by our grim knowledge of what happened to Sharon Tate only a few years later.
Sharon Tate was murdered on August 9, 1969. We’re all too familiar with the details so I’m passing on discussing them here. Instead, I’d like to share this rarely seen clip of Tate at work as an actor.
In this screen test for Valley Of The Dolls, Tate is playing beautiful pill popper Jennifer North, a role she eventually landed much to the delight of guilty pleasure seekers like myself.
The actor is Tony Scotti who played the adulterous scumbag Tony Polar, whose cheating ways propelled the emotionally frail Jennifer into the arms of Morpheus.
Backporch Tapes have just uploaded these two incredible recordings purported to be of Roman Polanski’s lie detector interview with the LAPD August 16 1969, just one week after the murder of his wife, after Sharon Tate.
The overall sound quality is poor, and Polanski sounds confused and upset, but certain questions and answers can be heard clearly - Polanski’s psychological state, his medication, his knowledge of the Polish army, and on the second clip, Polanski’s thoughts about the killer’s motives, and his suggestion of looking for something much more “far out.”
Lie Detector Test: LAPD interview Roman Polanski August 16 1969
Lie Detector Test: LAPD interview Roman Polanski August 16 1969, in which he discusses possible motive.
Dangerous Minds pal, Simon Wells, author of the excellent biography Charles Manson: Coming Down Fast, sent this rather bizarre link to the finale of Sharon Tate’s rarely seen last film The Thirteen Chairs (aka 12 + 1) - an Italian comedy about a hairdresser searching for a missing inheritance hidden inside a set of chairs. However, it’s not the film’s plot that is intriguing, but the eerie freeze frame at the finish, which as Simon points out:
...is just weird. Sharon Tate’s last film: The Thirteen Chairs- shot just six months before her diabolical end. The final credits sequence: I will say no more that just watch it. Talk about creepy prophesies over “The End”. I am amazed this hasn’t been highlighted before. So very odd.
It certainly is odd, especially as co-star, Italian actor Vittorio Gassman, who played the well-groomed hairdresser, is suddenly turned into a demented long-haired hippie, with an uncanny resemblance to Charles Manson.
Yes, Woodstock, but last week also saw the 40th anniversary of LA’s darkest campfire tale. You probably know the story by now (and if you don’t, you can read about it here, or here), but the shorthand goes like this…
On the night of August 8, 1969, Charles Manson disciples Susan Atkins, Charles “Tex” Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian stormed the rented home of Roman Polanski on 10050 Cielo Drive. Once behind its gates, they brutally and systematically took the lives of 5 people—including the life of Polanski’s eight-and-a-half months pregnant girlfriend, actress Sharon Tate. Tate was the last to die, knived by Watson while she was pinned down by Atkins, who then took some of Tate’s blood and used it to scrawl “PIG” on the porch wall. Manson had ordered her to leave behind a sign, “something witchy.”
The tragic events of that night, spilled into the following night and continued to ripple out through the decade(s) to come. Even today, the events of August ‘69 provided Pynchon with the darkly seismic backdrop to his new novel, Inherent Vice. The fallout was felt everywhere—even I had nightmares. Not about the events themselves (I was too young to remember those), but about Manson someday going free, and moving down the block.
After losing his wife and unborn child, Polanski was understandably devastated, and his life, eight years later, would go on to take another troubled turn. And Sharon Tate’s legacy? Beyond a still-loyal fanbase, all she left behind is a smattering of films and the promise of what might have been. And that promise, in my eyes, is at its most tangible in Tate’s American debut, Don’t Make Waves.
What’s it all about? Not much beyond The Byrds’ winning title track and Tony Curtis’ “Carlo Cofield” moving to Malibu and mixing it up with the town’s free-lovin’ oddballs. It was directed by Brit Alexander Mackendrick, a decade past his Sweet Smell of Success, and features one of my all-time favorite character actors, the criminally underappreciated Robert Webber. Curtis and Webber aside, though, it’s Tate who steals the show as the always-bikinied skydiver, “Malibu.” In fact, Tate made such a strong impression, she served as the inspiration for Mattel’s “Malibu Barbie.”
A physical copy of Waves is hard to come by. But you can still catch it for yourself, in its 10-part entirety, on YouTube. Part 1 starts right here. The trailer follows below.
Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
I'll repeat that: We're not necessarily endorsing everything you'll find here, we're merely saying "Here it is." We think human beings are very strange and often totally hilarious. We enjoy weird and inexplicable things very much. We believe things have to change and change swiftly. It's got to be about the common good or it's no good at all. We like to get suggestions of fun/serious things from our good-looking, high IQ readers. We are your favorite distraction.