The Tide Turns
Despite some missteps in the handling of Sharon's career by the fall of 1968
her star was still on the ascent. Sharon was the runner up to winner Lynn
Redgrave in a poll of theater owners in The Motion Picture Herald asking
who would be The star of Tomorrow. This boosted Sharon's self esteem and
steeled her determination to keep working and learning. Also, Sharon was
nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best New Comer. She would not win
but the nomination was a great honor.
agreed to take a role in a movie with Orson Wells, Vittorio Gassman and Terry
Thomas. The movie was to be filmed in Italy and was called Twelve plus 1.
Sharon's part was that of Pat, a brash American living in London. Pat joins
Vittoro Gassman's character on a search for 13 chairs, one of which contains
Sharon was due to leave for Europe in March of 1969 to begin filming. In
late 1968 Sharon learned she was pregnant. She was thrilled by the news.
She and Roman began to look for a larger home to live with the baby. They
found 10050 Cielo Drive. A beautiful ranch style home with a pool and guesthouse.
The previous tenants had been Terry Melcher, son of Doris Day and Candice
Bergen. The Polanskis moved in, in February 1969. Sharon called the home
her "love house".
Roman was concerned that Sharon would be filming a movie during the latter
half of her pregnancy. He told her to tell the director and drop out of the
film. Sharon, ever the trooper would not hear of it. She reassured Roman
everything would be all right, that filming would be over by the time she
was too pregnant to continue. Both Roman and Sharon flew to London in March
of 1969. After a week Sharon continued on to Italy to begin filming.
Sharon's optimism took a beating over the first few months of filming. It
was a hard shoot for her. She was sick quite a bit and as the pregnancy
progressed it became harder for her to continue the action scenes that peppered
the movie. There was a great deal of running around and it was hard on Sharon's
swollen feet. Between takes she would sit in her chair on the set and rest.
She never asked for special treatment though. She came to the set on time,
knew her lines and gave it her all. Vittorio Gassman kept close to Sharon
and looked after her. Making her laugh when she felt bad. Again, Sharon had
charmed a costar. The director took pains to hide Sharon's ever swelling
stomach but Sharon herself reveled in her pregnant form. Loving to be
photographed holding her belly.
Filming ended and Sharon once again joined Roman in London. Roman was doing
preparation work on Day of the Dolphin. In London, Sharon did a series of
photos with Terry O'Neil. She wore a short flowing yellow dress and posed
on the stairwell of her London home cradling her belly, lying on the floor
surrounded by baby clothes, opening baby shower gifts, in her rolls royce
holding up baby clothes while smiling and laughing. She was the picture of
contentment and happiness and Roman said she never looked more beautiful.
Back to Cielo
Sharon made her last publicity photo in London for Queen magazine. It was
to be a cover to promote the release of "Twelve Plus One". Shortly after,
Sharon boarded the Queen Elizabeth II to sail to the United States. Roman
would stay behind for a few weeks to finish work for Day of the Dolphin and
then would join Sharon at Cielo Drive in Los Angeles for the birth of their
It was not to be. Sharon was murdered shortly after her return to Los Angeles
by a cult lead by Charles Manson. Jay Sebring and two other friends were
also murdered that night. Sharon begged for the life of her unborn child
but she was told that the cult had no mercy for her or her child and she
was stabbed to death. In the aftermath of her horrible murder and the murder
of her house guests that evening, Sharon's name was drug through the mud
by the tabloids. She was accused of horrible things that had no basis in
fact. It would only be after the real killers were found and their motives
revealed that the truth was told. Still the damage had been done. Sharon's
good name had been sullied and still today it is linked to that of pure evil.
Her sister Patti would say, "I hate it. I hate that her beautiful name is
linked to Charles Manson."
But the people who really knew Sharon know the truth. When they speak of
her they have only good things to say. Mia Farrow would say, "There was the
perfection of her face-of course. And a radiance more usually found in children.
There was a capacity for delight. And a directness to her comments. She was
not a chatterbox. There was a kindness at the core. She somehow made her
friends feel necessary-and they loved her."
Roman Polanski in later years would make "Tess" and dedicate the movie to
her. Sharon had been reading the novel when she left for the United States.
She left the book on their nightstand in London and told Roman it would make
a great film.
Championing Victims Rights
In the years that followed Sharon's murder, her mother Doris, began to come
out of her depression and began to fight for victim's rights. In Sharon's
name she attended the paroles of the members of the Manson Family who had
murdered her daughter. She was the first member of a victim's family to
ever speak out a parole hearing and make a victims impact statement in the
state of California. Doris actively campaigned to help see that law get make
it on the books. The law was then picked up by the rest of the states
in the nation. She spoke to other family members of crime victims.
spoke to prisoners who she felt could be rehabilitated, telling them of her
loss and the years of depression that followed in the hopes that they would
not, upon release, go on to commit more, and increasingly violent crimes.
When Doris Tate died on July 10th, 1992, Sharon's youngest sister Patti took
fight that Doris began. In Doris' name a foundation was started, The
Doris Tate Crime Victim's
It serves to help victims of crime and their families. Sadly, on June 3rd,
2000, Patti Tate passed away at the age of 42, from breast cancer. Sharon's
last remaining sister, Debra, is continuing that fight in Sharon's name for
all victims, this is Sharon and the rest of the Tates legacy.
The photo journalist Peter Evans said of Sharon and Roman that
were "The imperfect couple. They were the Douglas Fairbanks/ Mary Pickford
of our time... cool, nomadic, talented and nicely shocking.
Their "Pickfair" (Sharome?) was a movable mansion, a roomy rebellion. Curious,
unafraid, they helped demolish the ancient Hollywood image of what movie
stardom was all about.
They became part of the 'anti-establishment' establishment. They became rich
but never regal."