All The Ways The Manson Family Was Connected To Hollywood Royalty
Before he was known as a ruthless cult leader and murderer, Charlie Manson was just another California hippie with musical aspirations who wandered the Hollywood Hills and hobnobbed with stars. During the late '60s, prior to the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders, the site of Charles Manson with celebrities was pretty commonplace at Hollywood parties. The charismatic killer managed to charm his way into the inner circles of many A-listers. Charlie Manson's music actually impressed a few big names.
Charles Manson and the Beach Boys were very chummy. Charles Manson and Neil Young had an encounter that impressed Young so much, he tried to get Manson a record deal. There are even Manson music recordings in existence due to these and other connections. Needless to say, those on the Hollywood scene were shocked to learn the eccentric singer harbored homicidal intents. The murders that occurred in August 1969 were one of many violent events that marked the end of the peace and love era of the sixties.
- Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
The most famous Manson-celebrity connection never even met him, but became notorious through circumstance. Model and actress Sharon Tate, who moved into the house on El Cielo Drive with her husband Roman Polanksi after producer Terry Melcher vacated it. Polanski was in London for work and Tate was eight-and-a-half months pregnant on August 9, 1969, when Manson's family members showed up to Tate's home at Manson's behest.
They violently killed Tate and her unborn child along with four friends: Hollywood hairdresser Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger, and 18-year-old Steven Parent.
Tate's horiffic and premature death created a legacy for the actress, and posthumous top billing on her final film.
- Photo: Universal Pictures / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
Perhaps the most infamous of Manson’s Hollywood connections was his relationship with Beach Boy drummer Dennis Wilson. After a trip to India with the Beatles in 1968, Wilson was high on enlightenment and intrigued when he met a group of women claiming to have a compelling spiritual guru named Charlie.
Upon meeting him, Wilson immediately found Manson appealing. He allowed Manson and his family to move into his home and introduced him to contacts in the musical world. He even produced a never-released record with Manson and the other Beach Boys, containing 10 songs. It's also reported that Dennis supported the Manson with thousands of dollars' worth of contributions including $1,000 in penicillin shots to treat Manson's gonorrhea.
The relationship eventually soured. Wilson claimed to have seen Manson murder a man at Spahn Ranch and then stuff him down a well. Manson also brandished a bullet in front of Wilson’s face and said, “Every time you look at it, I want you to think how nice it is your kids are still safe.” Enraged, Wilson physically attacked Manson. Wilson then abandoned his home and never returned.
The Beach Boys actually did gain some artistic inspiration from Manson. The Beach Boys song “Never Learn Not To Love” is a reworked version of a Manson song titled “Cease To Exist.” The song was released less than six months before the Tate-LaBianca murders.
- Photo: Warner/Reprise / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
Although he does not remember the precise date, Neil Young remembers being quite taken with Manson at some point during the 1960s. He was at a party at Dennis Wilson’s home when he met Manson and some of his female folowers, whom he described as people with an “intense vibe.” Manson played some of his songs for Young, who was impressed and even compared the young artist to Bob Dylan.
Young went as far to recommend Manson to a record executive, but the Tate-LaBianca murders occurred shortly thereafter.
- Photo: Brother Records / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
Dennis Wilson’s palling around with Charles Manson was not warmly received by his cousin and Beach Boys co-founder Mike Love. In March 2017, Love gave an interview with ABC News in which he said, “One of our family members unknowingly invited Satan into our midst.” He also told ABC the story of a night Manson invited Love to a naked dinner party filled with young women at Dennis Wilson’s home.
Manson invited Love to do acid with the group after dinner, an offer Love declined. As it was a hot night and Love had been sweating considerably, he decided to take a shower. Manson followed him into the bathroom, pulled open the shower door, and scolded Love for leaving the group. Love left the party as quickly as possible after that.
- Photo: Rogers, Cowan, & Brenner-public relations, Beverly Hills / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
Doris Day may have actually saved her son, the music producer Terry Melcher, from being murdered by the Manson family. Unlike many musical icons of the ‘60s, Melcher saw through Manson and was unimpressed with his music. After his second trip to the Manson clan home at the Spahn Ranch, Melcher was honest with Manson. Melcher made it clear he was unimpressed and had no intention of helping Manson launch a music career. Manson desperately wanted to be a musician, so he was infuriated by the rebuff.
The trouble was: Manson knew Melcher’s address. Melcher was close to his mother, and told her about Manson and some of his scarier antics. Day encouraged Melcher to move in with her, and he complied.
Who ended up moving into the house in Melcher’s place? Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate. It is speculated Manson ordered his family to attack that particular address in hopes of getting revenge on Melcher.
- Photo: New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer: Higgins, Roger, photographer / Wikimedia Commons / No known copyright restrictions
In order to gain money for his family, Charles Manson set his sites on Angela Lansbury's daughter Didi, who perfectly fit Charles Manson's target prey: innocent, young teen/twenty-something girls. While Didi was still in high school, Manson and his associates would pick her up after class. The gang would have Didi pay for things like clothes and car parts, and the young girl eagerly acquiesced to be in with the seemingly trendy crowd of hippies.
According to Lansbury, Didi “was one of many youngsters who knew [Manson] - and they were fascinated. He was an extraordinary character, charismatic in many ways, no question about it.”
Didi’s credit cards were eventually cut off, and Manson ceased contact with her. But that wasn't the end of Didi's journey. During this time, Didi and her brother Anthony developed a heroin addiction. Seeing the effect Manson had on her children, Lansbury and her husband Peter Shaw relocated the family to Lansbury's ancestral home, Cork County, Ireland.
“I was drawn to Ireland because it was the birthplace of my mother, and it was also somewhere my children wouldn't be exposed to any more bad influences,” Lansbury said.
A doctor prescribed Didi and Anthony methadone to combat their heroin withdrawal, and that, combined with the change of setting, finally helped to mend Lansbury's family. “Certainly, I have no doubt we would have lost one or both of our two if they hadn't been removed to a completely different milieu,” Lansbury said. "We were so very, very lucky we spotted what was happening just in time."