Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate attend the 25th Golden Globe Awards on
February 12, 1968.
Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate attend the 25th Golden Globe Awards on
February 12, 1968.
Sharon Tate sitting at the backseat of a car with her husband
Roman Polanski in London, 1968.
Photos By Bill Ray
Sharon Tate for Eye of the Devil, 1966
Sharon Tate photographed in Big Sur by Walter Chappell, 1964
From August 9th to August 10th, eight innocent lives were lost. So much has been said about their deaths, that people forget their lives.
Steven Parent was an 18 year old recent high school graduate who resided in the Los Angeles suburb of El Monte with his parents and three siblings. Working on electronics soon escalated from just a hobby, to an obsession for the teen. His youthful exuberance and extreme fascination wound up getting him into trouble on more than one occasion. Radios seemed to be what interested him the most, he would end up stealing several–just to take them apart, see how they worked, and put them back together again. It was foolishness, not maliciousness that was the cause of the thefts. His intentions made no difference in the eyes of the law, and he was arrested more than once. While in a youth correctional facility he tested at a near-genius level for electronics. In spite of the petty theft arrests, he was a very upstanding young man. He was planning to attend Citrus Junior College in September of 1969. He was saving money for his education and future by working two jobs.
Wojciech Frykowski was born in Poland in 1936. He was an intelligent man who graduated with a degree in chemistry. His greatest friendship nearly began as a brawl. Wojciech was known for being a troublemaker, so when he went to a school dance, the young man working the door would not let him in. Wojciech did not get in, but he very nearly did get into a fist fight with the young man who would not let him in, Roman Polanski. A few weeks later the two encountered each other at a local bar. Wojciech bought Roman a drink and by the end of the night, a friendship had been forged. Wojciech’s family had a fair amount of wealth due to his father’s textile printing company. That led to Wojciech financing an early short film by Roman, Mammals. When Roman made his first full-length picture, Knife in The Water, he hired Wojciech as a lifeguard. Wojciech kept a hard exterior, which led to bar brawls after filming had wrapped for the day. Years after Knife in The Water, Roman Polanski said this about his friend: “Beneath his tough exterior, Wojciech was good-natured, softhearted to the point of sentimentality, and utterly loyal.” During that period in his life, Wojciech ended up marrying twice. One marriage resulted in his only child, a son named Bartek. His second marriage was to poet Agnieszka Osiecka. In 1967 he made the decision to leave Poland and traveled to Paris. After spending some time there, he then set out for New York City. It was in NYC that writer Jerzy Kosinski introduced him to Abigail Folger. The two became friends, and then a couple. Early on they had to communicate in French, which was the only language they shared since he did not yet know English and she did not know Polish. He took copious amounts of notes while she taught him English and American customs. In August of 1968 they left New York for Los Angeles. In 1969 Roman Polanski began planning his next film, Day of The Dolphin. Wojciech happily agreed to help him to research for the project. Roman had also asked Wojciech and Abigail to stay in the home he shared with Sharon Tate, because he did not like the idea of his pregnant wife being alone while he was working in London. It was during this time that Wojciech wanted to reconnect with his son, and was working on plans to bring his son to the USA from Poland.
The name Jay Sebring was given upon his birth in Alabama on October 10th, 1933 was Thomas John Kummer. The family, including his parents and three siblings, ended up leaving Alabama for Detroit. After his high school graduation he joined the Navy for four years, and served in the Korean War. He became a barber in the Navy, and it was then that his entrepreneurial skills presented themselves. When his time in the Navy came to an end, he moved out to Los Angeles to begin his career. Along with the new career came a new name, Jay Sebring. Sebring came from the Florida car race, which he was a fan of. His unique style of cutting hair and charming personality gave him some of the most high-profile clients in Hollywood. Kirk Douglas took an instant shine to him and convinced Stanley Kubrick to hire Jay as the men’s hairstylist for Spartacus. The high-profile film brought him all kinds of new work and clients. Friendships were very important to Jay along with professional and romantic relationships. In ‘64 he met and became friends with martial artist Bruce Lee. He would end up giving a video recording of Bruce to Batman producer William Dozier. Not too long later, William Dozier cast Bruce Lee in another series, The Green Hornet. Even though Jay was most comfortable working behind-the-scenes, he would occasionally appear on camera. His appearances were on the television shows The Virginian and Batman, along with the film Synanon. From time-to-time he’d appear on talk shows and game shows like To Tell The Truth. In his personal life, his marriage to model/actress Cami Sebring lasted from 1960 to 1963. The divorce would not be finalized until 1965. It was during Thanksgiving of 1964 that he met Sharon Tate at the Whiskey A Go Go. The relationship became serious quickly, and they spent as much time together as possible. Dominick Dunne would later recall Sharon spending her time with Jay in his home salon while he worked on clients. Some rumors say that he wanted to get married, while she did not. Others say that she wanted to get married, while he did not. Either way, the romance ended in 1966 when she fell in love with director Roman Polanski. Even though their romance fell apart, he remained her friend, and became a good friend of Roman’s as well. As the 1960’s progressed, so did his career. Perhaps his best known style was the iconic look he crafted for Jim Morrison. By 1969 he had three salons, which became four by summer. He also worked on product lines that would expand his business to the whole country. His investors included musician John Phillips as well as friend Abigail Folger. He was a hairs breath away from having his own empire.
Abigail “Gibbie” Folger was born into wealth as the daughter of Peter Folger (of Folger’s Coffee) and Ines Mejia in August of 1943. The couple divorced in 1952 when Abigail and her brother, Peter, were still quite young. Her father married his much younger secretary in 1960, and the then-17 year old Abigail did not attend. Even early on in her life, it seems that Abigail was trying to figure out who she was and what kind of life she wanted, outside of her family’s wealth and influence. Her family provided her with the best education possible, which she took full advantage of. During her days at Radcliffe she dabbled in the theater, but it appears that performing did not hold her interest. Instead, she began educating herself on social and political issues. In 1967 she ended up working at the University of California art museum in Berkley, which seemed a good fit considering she possessed a degree in Art History. In the summer of 1967 she was dating photographer Jim Marshall, and accompanied him to the Monterey Pop Festival. The relationship didn’t last, and neither did her job at the art museum. She left California for New York, and briefly worked for a magazine publisher before settling into a job at the Gotham Book Mart. While the store was her official day job, she also devoted time to volunteering for Robert F. Kennedy’s Presidential campaign. She was already a very socially-conscious young woman who believed in Kennedy’s message. It was through her work at the store that she met writer Jerzy Kosinski, who in turn introduced her to Wojciech Frykowski. At the time of their meeting, he spoke no English. Instead, they communicated through French, which was a language they both spoke. The friendship blossomed into romance. She taught him English and American customs. They travelled around New York together, and eventually began living together. In August of 1968 they packed up their belongings and drove to California, and settled into a house on Woodstock Road, becoming neighbors with singer Cass Elliot. Upon returning to her home state, she decided to fully immerse herself in volunteering and social work. She volunteered for the Haight-Ashbury medical clinic with her mother and spent much of her time in ghettos, doing her best to help the young children there. She became political again, contributing to, and working for the campaign to elect Tom Bradley mayor of Los Angeles. Bradley’s campaign failed, leaving her disillusioned. She also protested against the war in Vietnam. It’s unknown how her anti-war position was viewed in her family, because her brother Peter was serving in the Armed Forces. The stress of her job as a social worker was taking a major toll on her. She ended up telling a friend; “A lot of social workers go home at night, take a bath and wash their day off, I can’t. The suffering gets under your skin.” In 1969 she and Wojciech moved into Roman and Sharon’s Cielo Drive home at the request of Roman. The relationship between Abigail and Wojciech was beginning to crumble. Arguments became more frequent, along with drug use. She ended up telling her therapist that she was planning on ending the relationship.
From the day that she came into the world in 1943, people were quick to make remarks about Sharon Tate’s beauty. When she was only a few months old she won her first pageant, Miss Tiny Tot of Dallas. She formed a strong bond with her mother early on. Because of her father being in the Army, the family moved around frequently and she didn’t necessarily spend a lot of time with her father, Paul. Her mother Doris was her constant, and they both leaned on each other for love and support. The 1950’s brought her two sisters, Debra and Patti. It also brought her more pageant wins, including Miss Richmond in Washington state. By the time the sixties began, the whole family relocated to Italy. It was there that Sharon became Homecoming Queen and made friends with fellow Army Brats who understood what it meant to be the child of someone in the Armed Forces. When movie crews began showing up in the area, she and her friends decided to try out as extras. A few seconds in Barabbas led to an innocent date with actor Jack Palance. When actor Richard Beymer came to Italy to film Hemingway’s Adventures of A Young Man, the two began to date. He encouraged her to go to Hollywood and gave her the contact information for his agent, Hal Gefsky. Initially, her parents were less than supportive of her desire to go to Hollywood. They wanted her to go to college, but her mind had already been made up. People began to take notice of her right from the start. Hal Gefsky took her on as a client, but later let her go to Martin Ransohoff. Ransohoff signed her instantly and set to work on making her into a sex symbol and star. Her relationship with Richard Beymer eventually fizzled out and she began seeing Philippe Forquet. The romance was tumultuous, at best. After it ended in 1964 she met Jay Sebring at the Whiskey A Go Ho during the Thanksgiving holiday. That relationship was much more stable, and unlike her former beaus, Jay was older and had an established, steady career. Part of her preparation for stardom with Ransohoff was getting out in front of the camera. He wanted to keep her low-key, so he had her wear a dark wig when she played Janet Trego on The Beverly Hillbillies. Her first major film role was supposed to be in a Tarzan film, but for whatever reason, it never came to be. Instead, she appeared in the film Eye of The Devil. It was a small but important role which allowed her to know and work with Kim Novak, Deborah Kerr, and David Niven. She greatly admired Novak and Kerr, and when she was younger she had a crush on Niven. The film was shot in Europe, and she ended up getting an apartment in London while Jay remained in Hollywood. For her next part, Ransohoff wanted her to be in a vampire comedy by Roman Polanski. The initial meeting between the two did not go well. Later, after seeing her reaction when he decided to frighten her, he decided she would be a good choice for the film. As production on The Fearless Vampire Killers progressed in 1966, Sharon and Roman fell in love. When Jay flew out to Europe to see her, she ended their relationship. When the movie wrapped, Sharon went back to California for her next film, and Roman went with her. They began living together and frequently went out to parties at some of the most exclusive clubs of the day. In 1967 she filmed Valley of The Dolls. She was not a fan of the book, and the film’s director treated her cruelly. She managed to rise above and give the best performance of anyone in the film, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination. She became known as one of the most beautiful, and kindest actresses in Hollywood. She and Roman wed in January 1968, with a lavish reception at London’s Playboy Club following the “I Do’s.” During their honeymoon in Paris, a man put his hand up her skirt, which immediately resulted in Roman attacking his wife’s assaulter. At the end of the fight he had a cut upper-lip. Which was a tiny price to pay for protecting his bride. Later in 1968 she appeared in spy spoof The Wrecking Crew, with Dean Martin. By many accounts it seems that was her most enjoyable experience with making a film. She was more comfortable with light comedy, and her chemistry with Dean Martin is fun to watch. She was also taking hold of her own career by leaving Martin Ransohoff. At home, she played hostess to many friends and took joy in making meals for everyone. When she and Roman became a couple, she started learning Polish recipes specifically for him. While they loved each other deeply, they still had issues. Their biggest issue being his repeated infidelity. While he had been fairly upfront about his activities, it still bothered her. But for the most part she let it slide, because she loved him. It was sometime around the end of 1968 when she became pregnant. When she told him about the pregnancy in early-1969 he was not particularly happy. Given all of the loss he encountered during the Holocaust, his reaction was somewhat understandable. Eventually, he accepted that they would become parents. In February, they rented a home on Cielo Drive and the following month left for Europe. She went to Italy to film a comedy called The Thirteen Chairs. Production was sometimes difficult because her pregnancy caused her to become tired at times, and as time went on, more elaborate means were used to hide her growing belly. When it finished, she and Roman spent more time at their home in London and buying things for the baby. In July she sailed back to the USA while Roman remained in London to do prep work for his next film. He promised her he would be back home in time for their child’s birth. She settled back in at home with house guests Wojciech and Abigail. When the Moon Landing happened, she watched it at home with her parents and younger sisters. Before they left, her mother asked if she needed anything. She replied that she had everything she needed.
Paul Richard Polanski was named for his grandfathers and conceived during a joyful time period for his parents. His father, Roman, was reaching new professional heights. His film, Rosemary’s Baby was a huge critical and commercial success all over the world. He had earned the admiration and respect of his industry and the movie-going public. Nearly a year earlier he had married a woman whom he loved, and who loved him in return. He was a far cry from the young boy who saw tragedy first-hand in the Holocaust. Paul’s mother Sharon was having her own professional success, albeit not as great as her husband’s. She was a Golden Globe nominated actress who had recently freed herself of her ex-manager’s shackles. She was an in demand cover model and was beloved by family and friends for her kindness and humor. The couple had not intended to conceive a child, but they did. Sharon was ecstatic about becoming a mother, but was nervous about how her husband would react. As she suspected, he was not thrilled about the pregnancy. It brought back the memory that his mother had been pregnant when she was killed in a concentration camp. His wife assured him that everything would be okay. They rented a home which she dubbed as her “love house.” It was a beautiful place. The home wasn’t monstrously large. It was comfortable. A perfect place for a family of three. Enough room for a baby to grow into a toddler. It would be perfect for games and happiness. It even had a pool, a good place for a child to learn to swim. Sharon wanted her child to be happy and healthy. She had given up smoking, a habit she had picked up years earlier. She cut out alcohol. She was taking care of herself, which was how she took care for the child growing inside her. She would be a hands-on mother, like her own. Once she completed the film she was obligated to co-star in her career would take a back seat to motherhood. Because of the Hollywood jet set existence she and her husband were part of, it was decided that it would be a good idea to hire a nanny as well. Sharon wanted an English nanny with “kind eyes.” Roman noted that her life quickly became about the life of their child. She loved buying baby clothes and toys. She didn’t care that she didn’t know the sex of her baby. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was making sure it was healthy and happy. She wanted to make sure that her husband would be comfortable taking care of his new child. She enrolled Roman in a class for expectant fathers. It would start once he came home to her from London. There were all kinds of hopes and dreams for the child of Sharon and Roman.
In August of 1925 Pasqulino Antonio LaBianca was born to Italian immigrants Antonio and Corina LaBianca. He was called Lino, but eventually changed the spelling to Leno. He had two older sisters, Emma and Stella. His mother remained home with the children while his father ran two successful businesses. One business was a super market, while the other purchased food at wholesale prices and then distributed it to the local grocers around the Los Angeles area. By the time he got to high school, he was excelling in his classes and extracurricular sports. His intelligence allowed him to skip a grade while his athleticism earned him the nickname “Flash.” When he wasn’t in school or competing, he was working for his father’s supermarket. He fell in love with a classmate named Alice, and was upset when his family moved into a home on Waverly Drive, because that meant he had to change school districts. Instead of staying at the new school, he forged his father’s signature on a change of address form and went back to his old school, and his girlfriend. In 1942 he began studying Business Administration at Los Angeles City College and began working for his father’s wholesale business. Not long after he transferred to the University of Southern California. 1943 brought his induction into the Army, and 1944 brought his wedding to Alice. He was eventually shipped to Europe while Alice moved in with his parents. By the time he came home in 1946 he had earned the rank of Technical Sergeant and joined the Army reserve with the rank of Sergeant First Class. He and Alice began having some marital issues but they reconciled and in 1948 their daughter Corina was born. Two years later their son, Anthony, arrived. Professionally in this time period he was elected to the Board of Directors and became Vice President of his father’s businesses. When his father passed away in 1951 he became President of both businesses. By 1955 his marriage to Alice was at an end and they separated. Their third child, Louise, was born after their split. The wholesale company proved to be too stressful, so he sold it and focused on expanding Gateway Ranch Markets. Around this time he finally received his Bachelors degree in Finance. In 1959 he met and married Rosemary Struthers. As time went on, he realized that the grocery business was not something he wanted to remain part of. He found his passion in breeding and racing thoroughbred horses. In 1968 he purchased the Waverly Drive house from his mother, and quickly moved back in with Rosemary and her son Frank. By 1969 he was making serious plans to leave Gateway Ranch Markets behind.
It’s thought that Rosemary was born in Mexico in December of 1929. That aspect of her life remains a mystery because no one knows about her parents. It’s been said that they were Americans, but they either died or abandoned her. Rosemary’s childhood was spent in an Arizona orphanage until she was about twelve years old. She ended up being adopted by the Harmon family who lived in California. In the late ‘40s she was working as a carhop at the Brown Derby Drive-In, in Los Angeles. It was there that she met and fell for Frank Struthers. The courtship was rather short. In 1948 she gave birth to her daughter Suzan, whose father was a man Rosemary had been having an affair with. In 1955 she gave birth to Frank Jr. By 1958 the marriage of Rosemary and Frank Sr. was over. In 1959 she was working as a waitress and met Leno LaBianca. They both fell head over heels and married in Las Vegas. Rosemary became close to Leno’s children from his first marriage, especially his daughter Cory. They quickly bonded over style and fashion. Even Leno’s first wife remarked about how Rosemary did many things with Cory that she herself didn’t have time for. Rosemary had a distinct and sophisticated style which did not go unnoticed by family and friends. In the late ‘60s she decided to go into business using that style. It was a mobile dress shop that she called Boutique Carriage. It quickly became such a hit that she opened up an actual storefront in the Gateway shopping plaza. She ventured outside of just her shop, investing in stocks and commodities. By 1969 the girl who had been left at an orphanage had grown up into a smart business woman who had made over a million dollars.
Fashion icons in 1960′s film
Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffanys (1960)
Jean Seberg as Patricia in Breatless (1960)
Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate (1963)
Natalie Wood as Helen in Sex in the Single Girl (1964)
Anna Karina as Marianne in Pierrot Le Fou (1965)
Sharon Tate, Patty Duke, and Barabara Parkins as Jennifer, Neeley, and Anne in Valley of the Dolls (1967)
Jane Fonda as Corie in Barefoot in the Park (1967)
Faye Dunaway as Bonnie in Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Catherine Deneuve in Belle De Jour (1967)
Jane Birkin as Penelope in La Piscine (1969)