Things Most People Don't Know About Sharon Tate

Sharon Tate might be best known as one of the Charles Manson victims, but she had a fascinating life outside of the horrific events that took place in August of 1969. Her marriage to film director Roman Polanski, her tragic murder, and the death of her unborn child certainly don't define Sharon Tate — but they've turned her into somewhat of a Hollywood urban legend

A former beauty queen and silver screen actress, Sharon Tate's life was full of ups and downs, but according to those who knew her personally, the blonde bombshell had much more personality and was much more of a caregiver than history might believe. Her known personality quirks and stories about Sharon Tate help to illuminate who she was outside her status as a tragic victim of a disillusioned cult.

  • The Last Time Tate Saw Her Family Was When They Watched The Moon Landing Together
    Photo: 20th Century-Fox; Restored by Adam Cuerden / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    The Last Time Tate Saw Her Family Was When They Watched The Moon Landing Together

    Tate's sister, Debra, recalled the last time she saw her sister, about a month before the murders in 1969. Tate's family joined her at the home she shared with her husband, Roman Polanski, on July 20, with the purpose of watching NASA do something exciting. Tate, in the late stages of pregnancy at the time, reportedly greeted her parents and sister as they arrived, and the group spent a couple of hours at the pool before watching the monumental event on television. Shortly after the Apollo 11 shuttle landed, the group left Tate, asking her if she needed anything. Tate replied that she had everything she needed, looking down at her stomach, and waved as they drove away. 

  • Her Father Disguised Himself As A Hippie In An Attempt To Infiltrate The Manson Clan And Investigate Tate's Death

    Tate's father, Paul, never stopped trying to understand his daughter's death. Soon after she was killed, Paul left the military and spent months in an undercover mission of sorts, pretending to be a hippie in hopes of finding leads in the murder of his daughter.

    The authorities were never able to use any of the information he gathered, but every time members of the Manson family came up for parole, Paul and his wife Doris adamantly opposed it. Paul wrote letters and, at the parole hearing for Charles "Tex" Watson, detailed how he had to scrub blood off of the floor of his daughter's home. He went on to argue "That man should never, never, never be turned out into society."

  • Tate Inspired The Malibu Barbie Doll
    Photo: Don't Make Waves / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

    Tate Inspired The Malibu Barbie Doll

    In 1967, Sharon Tate appeared in the movie Don't Make Waves featuring Tony Curtis. She played a role named Malibu and wore skimpy clothing whenever she was on screen, which of course got her shapely body a lot of attention, and she became a spokesperson for Coppertone suntan lotion.

    In 1971, the Malibu Barbie doll came onto the scene — a straight-haired blond with a luscious smile — and was said to have been inspired by Tate. Malibu, the stereotypical California girl, turned into one of the most memorable dolls of all time. 

  • Elizabeth Taylor Forbade Her From Coming Onto The Set Of One Of Her Movies Because She Was Jealous Of Tate
    Photo: The Sandpiper / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

    Elizabeth Taylor Forbade Her From Coming Onto The Set Of One Of Her Movies Because She Was Jealous Of Tate

    Tate began her acting career with small television roles, but her manager, Marty Ransohoff, transitioned her to films around 1964. Ransohoff was a producer on Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton's 1965 movie The Sandpiper, in which Tate was rumored have a small part. But the role never came to fruition; supposedly, Taylor requested Tate be removed from the set of the film because one of "the most beautiful women in the world" was jealous of her young, blonde competition. Tate was relegated to work as a stand-in on the film — but it worked out for her, since she befriended Raquel Welch in the process.  

  • Tate Won Her First Beauty Pageant When She Was Only A Few Months Old

    Sharon Marie Tate, daughter to US Army Colonel Paul Tate and his wife Doris, was born on January 24, 1943. She won her first beauty pageant in the summer of that same year.  It's unclear if her mother or her paternal grandmother, Nannie, sent in pictures of the infant to the Miss Tiny Tot contest in Dallas, TX, but the family won a $50 savings bond for Tate's good looks. Her family moved around a lot due to her father's position in the military, and she didn't return to pageants until she was a teenager, winning the Miss Richland in Washington state in 1959. She also became Queen of the Autorama that year, winning "a Westinghouse rotisserie, a 17-jewel man's wrist watch and expansion band; a nine-piece English Sheffield steak and carving set, pots, pans, percolator, grill a fishing rod, pizza baker, a three-piece bath mat set" among other items. 

  • Tate Preferred Vaseline Over Make Up

    When not working on set or appearing in public, Tate preferred to go without much or any makeup. According to a biography written by Tate's sister Debra, she often appeared fresh-faced with nothing more than Vaseline on her lips. She kept jars of Vaseline in her car and never went to bed with any makeup on. She also didn't like perfume but blended her own scents, usually using essential oils. More often than not, her hair was in ponytail.