On the evening of August 9th, 1969, acts of depraved carnage were committed at 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon, located north of Beverly Hills, California. In total, five people: actress and model, Sharon Tate, who was pregnant with her husband, film director, Roman Polanski’s baby; Abigail Folger, the daughter of Peter Folger, and heiress to the Folger coffee fortune; her boyfriend, Wojciech Frykowski; Steven Parent, a teenager, who, had he left a few minutes earlier from visiting his friend, the property’s caretaker, William Garretson, wouldn’t have been killed; and celebrity, hair stylist, Jay Sebring were all savagely murdered. The perpetrators of these heinous acts were three members of the infamous Manson family: Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Charles “Tex” Watson, who before the murder and mayhem commenced, uttered the line “I am the Devil and I’m here to do the Devil’s business.” In attendance that evening, as well as the following night during the murders of supermarket chain owner, Leno LaBianca, and his wife, boutique owner, Rosemary, at their home on 3301 Waverly Drive in Los Angeles, was another family member, who served as a look out, but didn’t commit murder. Her name is Linda Kasabian; she was born Linda Drouin, on June 21, 1949 in Biddeford, Maine. In exchange for being granted immunity, Kasabian wound up becoming prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi’s star witness against the members of the Manson family, which also included, Leslie Van Houten, who participated in the LaBianca murders, and Manson who ordered the killings.
There have been an inordinate number of magazine and newspaper articles, books, television specials, and films, that have provided every detail imaginable when it comes to the life and crimes of Charles Manson and his followers. Since Manson’s death from a heart attack on November 19, 2017 in Bakersfield, California, at Kern County Hospital, there have been several new television specials about him and the murders that have aired, including “Charles Manson: The Final Words,” directed by James Buddy Day, and narrated by musician and director, Rob Zombie. The special premiered on television on the REELZ channel on December 3, 2017. Furthermore, two-time, Oscar winning writer and director, Quentin Tarantino’s (Pulp Fiction) next film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” set to be released on July 26, 2019, is based in large part on the Tate murders.
Several nights ago, I sat down to watch a re-airing of a television documentary that was first released in Canada under the name “Manson” on August 9, 2009. Unlike the prior Manson pieces I had watched or read, the program took a fresh approach to the topic because the documentary was told from Linda Kasabian’s perspective. From the beginning, it is made known to the viewer, that Kasabian, fearing for her life, has been in hiding for the past forty years, and is speaking publicly, for the first time since the trial, about the murders and her life with the family. In fact, the viewer is also made aware, that Kasabian will not be shown in full profile during the documentary, and even when it seems as if she’s speaking directly into the camera, her eyes are covered by dark sunglasses, and I suspect she’s wearing a wig.
The documentary was directed by Neil Rawles (Killer Instinct with Kris Hansen), and written by Matthew Broughton (Critical). Featured during its 90 minute runtime is archival footage, interviews, and reenactments. Additionally, there is an actual recording of one of Charles Manson’s songs. For those of you who might not know, Manson’s dream was to become a musician, and for a while, he was friends with “Beach Boys” drummer Dennis Wilson, who thought Manson had a great deal of talent and could become a rock star. Wilson introduced Manson to everyone he knew, and arranged for record producer, Terry Melcher – son of four time Golden Globe winner, and Oscar nominee, Doris Day (Pillow Talk) – to come and listen to Manson perform. Melcher made the fatal mistake of telling Manson that he would be in touch with him, after Manson inquired if he would be getting a record deal.
While I knew the aforementioned information from other pieces I had watched or read about Manson, what I only knew in part, or at least hadn’t fully remembered was as follows: Manson, feeling irate at the fact that Melcher didn’t come through with a record deal, goes to have it out with him at Melcher’s home, which, at the time that Manson was in contact with Melcher, was 10050 Cielo Drive. After Melcher moved out, the home was rented by Roman Polanski. When Manson goes to the Cielo Drive home on March 23, 1969, he enters through the backyard, where it just so happens that a photo shoot is taking place. Manson is stopped by Sharon Tate’s friend, famous Iranian photojournalist, Shahrokh Hatami. He informs Manson that Melcher no longer lives at the residence, and tells him to leave; before doing so, Manson turns and looks at the pool, where the photo shoot is taking place. According to Hatami, Manson and Tate locked eyes and stared at one another without uttering a word. Sharon Tate had no idea that she was staring into the eyes of the man, who five months later, would send members of his delusional clan out to her home on the evening of August 9, 1969, to murder her, her unborn child, and whomever else had the misfortune to be present at the home at the time.
Furthermore, it is revealed to the viewer, that Kasabian, although only the look out during the murders, had to have a series of events break her way in order to be in a position to receive immunity and avoid the fate of the other Manson family members. As of the writing of this post, Charles Manson and Susan Atkins have died while serving life in prison; Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles “Tex” Watson, are still incarcerated; and Leslie Van Houten, after having served forty years in prison has been recommend twice for parole by California state panels in 2016 and 2017, but in each instance, Governor Jerry Brown has denied granting Van Houten parole, a decision her legal team is currently fighting. Kasabian, to her credit, if she can be believed that is, states that she is remorseful for what happened, and feels she should have been punished. As of the writing of this post “Manson Revisited” is available, in its entirety, on youtube.com. For those of you interested in the Manson Family and the murders, and are especially interested in hearing it from the prospective of someone who had remained silent on the subject for decades, the documentary will more than likely hold your interest.