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.
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.
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."
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.
Sharon 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.