Sharon Tate has a legacy, but it isn’t one she was designed for when she first arrived in Hollywood. Her star was rising while her life was a wife and soon-to-be mother was in its nascent stages.
Then the flame went out – quicker than it ignited. And that has been her legacy for nearly the last 50 years.
Sharon Tate, married to iconic director Roman Polanski and more than eight months pregnant with the couple’s son, was brutally murdered by members of the Charlie Manson Family in August 1969, taking Tate’s star out of Hollywood just as it was shining at its most bright. She had earned a Golden Globe nomination for her work in Valley of the Dolls in 1967, and she was the headline actress in 12+1, when she was killed – the movie showed in theaters posthumously.
Sadly, though, her Hollywood career in life was not long enough to overshadow her death, though she was on the way to possible greatness in the wake of her most recent performances. However, it took the cult fame and cruelty of the Mason Family to take over the legacy and list Tate as just another one of Manson’s victims – though certainly one of the more famous ones.
Tate began in Hollywood as an 18-year-old in 1961 in Barabbas with Anthony Quinn, after entering in a few beauty pageants and earning a cover photo in a swimsuit on the U.S. military magazine Stars & Stripes, which garnered her some celebrity status in Italy, where her military family was stationed.
Her performance in Barabbas got her name in Hollywood and she moved on from modeling and started focusing more on acting. At the time of her murder, she had ascended to receiving top actress billing in her latest films, including a 1967 Polanski project called The Fearless Vampire Killers, where she had met Polanski and ended up marrying in January 1968.
While Tate’s actual murderer is unknown (she was killed along with four others inside the home she shared with Polanski), Charles Manson served the rest of his life in prison for running the Manson Family and guiding it through its crime spree that included several murders. Since her death, Tate’s mother and sister advocated for changes to California’s sentencing and criminal laws which led to Manson’s’ lifetime imprisonment. For their work, Sharon Tate’s life has served as a symbol for victims’ rights, as many of the reforms in California were implemented in other states as well.
Sharon Tate will sadly be known as perhaps the sot famous of Charles Manson’s’ victims, instead of being remembered for her beauty and promising acting career. It is another one of those situations where usually the last thing you do or have done to you that impact the most people is what will be remembered. But at the end of the day, Tate’s family will make sure that her name lives on and has a more lasting impression than anything Manson ever did.