Sharon Tate

A fairytale that ended in tragedy. The Hollywood star and pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski was murdered by Charles Manson's notorious 'Family' in the 60s.


Born in Dallas in 1943, her mother, Doris Tate, would later recall how passers-by used to stop to gaze at her tremendous beauty, as a baby in her pram. At six months old she won the 'Miss Tiny Tot of Dallas Pageant'. Her father was in Army Intelligence, and the Tate family had to move quite frequently, all over the United States and Europe.

The victor of many beauty pageants, including being named 'Miss Richland' in 1959, she wanted to study psychiatry but her father was transferred to Italy, where the whole family moved in 1960. On arriving in Verona, Tate found that she was already a star owing to the publication of a photograph of her in a bathing suit on the cover of 'Stars and Stripes'.

Tate and her friends obtained parts as film extras in 'Adventures of a Young Man', starring Paul Newman and Richard Beymer, who Tate later dated. He encouraged her to pursue a film career.

In 1961, she was employed by singer Pat Boone to appear in a special he made in Venice and later that year worked as an extra in the film 'Barrabas'. In 1962, her family returned to the US.

Back in the US, she hitchhiked part of the way to Hollywood, and became a regular on the TV show, 'The Beverly Hillbillies'. She also had small parts in films including 'The Americanization of Emily' (1964) and 'The Sandpiper' (1965).

Her first real role, in 'Eye of the Devil' in 1965, opposite David Niven and Deborah Kerr, was filmed in London. There, she met the movie director Roman Polanski, after auditioning successfully for his horror spoof, 'The Fearless Vampire Killers', in 1967.

They soon became a couple and were married in January 1968.


Tate's breakthrough came in 'Valley of the Dolls', the hit 1967 film based on the Jacqueline Susann novel. She followed this with 'Don't Make Waves', which starred Tony Curtis.

With Polanski achieving huge critical acclaim with 'Rosemary’s Baby' in 1968, the couple became increasingly famous, although Tate never sought to capitalise on the pairing through collaborations.

Returning from filming '12 + 1' in Italy in 1969, Tate arrived at the couple's home in Bel Air, while her husband was in London. Eight-months pregnant, Tate, along with three other guests, was viciously murdered by members of apocalyptic fantasist, Charles Manson's cult.

She was found the next morning, with 16 stab wounds, five of which were fatal in themselves. On 13 August 1969, she was interred at the Holy Cross Cemetery in California with her son, who was named Paul Richard Polanski posthumously, in her arms.

Manson and four of his followers were convicted of what notoriously became known as 'The Tate Murders', and spawned the unsavoury and enduring Manson legacy. As of 2010, they were still imprisoned after being sentenced to life in 1970.

Sharon's mother Doris set up the 'Doris Tate Crime Victims Bureau' after her daughter's death and she was honoured by George Bush for her volunteer work in fighting for victims' rights just before her death in 1992.

It is now the 'Doris Tate Crime Victims Foundation', a not-for-profit organisation that provides support to victims of violent crimes.