I was looking through a stack of Fate magazines from the late 60’s and early 70’s that were collecting dust on a built-in bookshelf in my living room the other day when I came across a rather bizarre article about Sharon Tate and a dream she had. The strange anecdote came from Hollywood “man around town” celebrity columnist, Dick Kleiner. According to Kleiner, Sharon Tate had a prophetic dream of her brutal murder by members of the Manson Family at least two years before the tragic incident actually took place.
Now keep in mind if you’re not familiar with Fate that it’s the kind of publication that presents paranormal phenomena, alternative medicine, mental telepathy and the like. Other articles in the same issue are titled “Spirit ‘Possession,’ – Fact or Fallacy?” and “The Prophetic Day the Mirror Fell.” There are classified ads for a “UFO Diet” and a “Teenage Astrologer.” It’s not necessarily the resource you grab when you’re looking do research for your doctoral thesis, but nonetheless, the older copies are odd enough that my wife and I like having some around to pick up from time to time. Fun at parties and all that.
The May, 1970 issue of Fate
So you can make what you will of the story to come considering the source, but if it’s true it’s pretty creepy, and at the very least, a kitschy example of the kind of writing for which Fate is famous.
In the article, called “Sharon Tate’s Preview of Murder,” Kleiner, speaking in the first person, explains that he had interviewed Tate in the past and he planned on doing so again when he showed up on the set of a film (almost certainly The Wrecking Crew) where she was working on August 1, 1968, almost exactly a year before the Manson Family killings on August 9, 1969. Tate recognized Kleiner and invited him into her trailer for the interview. Among the other questions Kleiner asked that day was “Have you ever had psychic experiences?” apparently something that he brought up routinely with every celebrity with whom he spoke as these types of phenomena were of personal interest. Tate’s response, according to Kleiner, was as follows:
Yes, I have had a psychic experience- at least I guess that’s what it was- and it was a terribly frightening and disturbing thing for me. It happened a year or so ago. Maybe you can explain it.
At the time of the August interview in 1968, Tate had been married to Roman Polanski for several months, the two having tied the knot in January of that year. But in order to understand the context of the supposedly prophetic dream, we need to think briefly about Tate’s life at the time of the “mysterious vision.” It would have been sometime around the summer of 1967. At that point, Tate was in a relationship with famous Hollywood hairstylist, Jay Sebring who, not so incidentally, would also be killed in the Manson slaughter. When Tate had the dream, she was sleeping in Sebring’s house while he was away on business in New York. The house, located “right on Benedict Canyon, the street that parallels the canyon itself” (the street is actually called Easton Drive) had previously belonged to Hollywood agent, Paul Bern who was married in the 30’s to Jean Harlow. According to Kleiner, Bern had committed suicide in the house after Harlow left him in 1932, but the facts surrounding Bern’s death are cloudy and there is some debate about the real cause of his demise. Either way, the fact that Bern had died in the house would have been common knowledge in Hollywood circles in 1967.
So Tate, alone in the house and turning in for bed starts experiencing a “funny feeling” that is keeping her from sleeping, all the small noises in the dwelling startling her. She turns on the light in the bedroom and sees “a small man” moving clumsily around the room. She describes the man as looking like every description she had ever heard of Paul Bern. The unexplainable figure is not threatening to Tate, but its mere presence is terrifying to her. (Keep in mind that according to the article, Tate still feels like she’s awake at this point). Tate runs from the room and starts heading down the stairs, and this is where the supposed premonition takes place. From the Kleiner article:
“I saw something or someone tied to the staircase,” she said. “Whoever it was- and I couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman but knew somehow that it was either Jay Sebring or me-he or she was cut open at the throat.”
At this point, according to Kleiner, Tate heads into “the playroom” looking for a much needed drink. She felt certain that Sebring would have kept liquor in the room but she didn’t know where. Tate senses something (she doesn’t hear a voice) telling her to open a shelf on a bookcase. Inside, she finds a button which she pushes revealing a liquor cabinet. She has a drink, tries to calm down and pinches herself. Upon feeling nothing, Tate, according to the account, is relieved to find that the whole awful experience must just be a dream.
Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring just before their shocking demise
In Kleiner’s retelling, Tate then experiences another sensation compelling her to pull away a strip of wallpaper at the bottom of the bar. Feeling silly, she does so, revealing a brass base. She pinches herself a second time, and she still feels nothing.
Tate, now a little more settled, decides to head back upstairs thinking that she could probably go to sleep. Again, this is supposed to be dream, so the whole thing is a little confusing. Regardless, she heads back upstairs, apparently past the apparition still “gushing blood” AND past the odd little man. Despite all of this, according to the account, she climbs into bed and falls fast asleep.
Cut to the morning when Tate is awakened by Sebring returning from New York. The two nervously laugh about the odd dream and then they have the kind of head-scratcher common to these stories of the “supernatural” when they walk back to the playroom to find the liquor cabinet open and “scraps of wallpaper on the floor.”
I typically don’t put a lot of stock into this kind of thing, but again, one has to admit that if the story of the dream is true it’s pretty strange to say the least. I had honestly never heard this story before, but it turns out that many have made a very big deal of it.
Sebring remained friends with Tate after their breakup and as I mentioned before, he was one of the five people killed by the Manson Family at Tate and Polanski’s rented home on Cielo Drive in 1969. Sebring was still living in the house where Tate’s dream took place at the time of his murder.
You can read the entire Fate article here.
I’m not sure where the clip below is from, and the quality is not the best, but it discusses Sebring’s house and Sharon Tate’s dream. At around 3:23 you can hear Dick Kleiner recalling Tate’s recollection of what turned out in retrospect to be a rather chilling vision. After watching the clip, it appears that the Kleiner article had shown up in perhaps a different format in a different publication.