TO the world, Sharon Tate will always be the pregnant movie starlet cut down in her prime by the evil Manson Family.
But 50 years on from her murder, Quentin Tarantino film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood remembers the tormented actress as a beautiful screen siren swept up in the early throes of fame.
In the critically acclaimed drama, Leonardo DiCaprio plays a fictional fading actor and Brad Pitt his best friend and stunt double.
Set in 1969, the pals cross paths with neighbour Sharon — played by Margot Robbie — and her director husband Roman Polanski, as well as members of Charles Manson’s deadly cult.
Sharon’s sister, Debra, was outraged by the prospect of Tarantino exploiting the doe-eyed enigma. Then she saw Margot bring the 26-year-old back to life.
Debra, 66, told The Sun last night: “Margot did such an outstanding job in portraying Sharon’s lightness, and the love and exuberance for life that she had.
“It shook me to my core, because it was Sharon’s voice. I cried heavily, to the point that the front of my shirt was wet. Her performance was a beautiful visit with my sister.”
‘HE RULED HER ENTIRE LIFE’
Debra only wishes that her sister featured more frequently in the movie, which was second only to Disney blockbuster The Lion King on an impressive debut at the US box office last weekend.
There is much more to her story than Margot’s fleeting appearances. Untold are the bleak secrets of the small-town beauty pageant winner exploited by the free love, drug and sex-obsessed Hollywood machine of the Sixties.
According to one biography, the actress was frequently cheated on by orgy-loving Polanski, who also pushed her into threesomes and home-made sex videos.
This sordid reality was far from the Hollywood fairytale Sharon had dreamed of while growing up. Born in Texas to an army officer dad who was often absent, Sharon was entered into her first beauty pageant by mum Doris aged just six months.
She was crowned Miss Tiny Tot of Dallas and, as she grew up, many other titles followed, including Miss Washington.
Biographer Ed Sanders claimed in his 2016 book, Sharon Tate: A Life, that the actress was raped, aged 17, by a soldier while living in Italy, where her dad was based. The shocking incident undermined the already fragile confidence of the shy teenager.
Described as a “gentle soul” by Debra, Sharon was not prepared for the harsh, male-dominated world of movies but her beauty was destined for the big screen.
Her first brush with film came as a “burlesque queen” extra in Hemingway’s Adventures As A Young Man, in 1962.
Its star, Richard Beymer, 29 years her senior, dated Sharon and found her an agent, exposing her to Hollywood’s dark side as it came out of its Golden Age.
Her first fiancée, the French actor Philippe Forquet, is said to have had a temper so violent that she ended up in hospital. There were rumours of beatings and claims by Forquet that Sharon cut him in the chest with a wine bottle.
Producer Martin Ransohoff, who she had signed a seven-year deal with in 1963 on the promise that he would make her a star, demanded she end the relationship or lose her contract.
Sharon did as she was told before hooking up with The Great Escape actor Steve McQueen, then falling for kinky celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring.
But Debra says Jay was not ready to marry, recalling: “The truth is that Sharon had broken off with Jay because he wouldn’t commit after four years together.
She met Roman after she broke it off with Jay and Jay realised what he had lost.”
Polanski and Sharon met in London, where they were both working, and took hallucinogenic drugs together.
The notoriously difficult director insisted she reshoot a scene 70 times in their first movie together, 1967 comedic horror The Fearless Vampire Killers.
Polanski also expected Sharon to appear nude in the film, something that was still considered outrageous back then.
He then gave revealing photos to Playboy magazine to publish. But the actress told her critics: “I honestly don’t understand the big fuss made over nudity and sex in films.”
It was just the beginning of the sexual demands made by Polanski, who remains a wanted man in the US after fleeing in 1978 while awaiting sentencing for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl.
Biographer Ed claims Polanski would record orgies at his and Sharon’s LA home and expect her to join in. He would then share the videos — reportedly showing sadomasochistic porn — at parties with his
He ruled her entire life from the time she met him
Sharon’s friend Joanna Pettet once claimed that Polanski “told her how to dress, he told her what make-up he liked, what he didn’t like — he ruled her entire life from the time she met him”.
After marrying the Polish film-maker in 1968 she hoped he would settle down. Much to her dismay he pursued an open relationship, expecting his new bride to accept his desire for other lovers.
When Sharon became pregnant in 1968, Polanski reportedly asked her to have an abortion.
When she refused, he stopped having sex with her and started an affair with The Mamas & The Papas singer Michelle Phillips.
By this time, Sharon had made her name for herself as the hot new name in Hollywood.
Debra, Sharon’s sister thought Margot did an ‘outstanding job’ in the film[/caption]
The hard-working actress impressed in 1967’s Valley Of The Dolls — which secured her a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer — and The Wrecking Crew with Dean Martin.
In Once Upon A Time, we see Sharon slip into a cinema to watch herself on screen. She is thrilled to see the audience enjoying the film. With her husband away working — and probably cheating — hairdresser Jay befriended Sharon again.
Debra said: “He was hanging around hoping that Roman would make a mistake so he could swoop in and have her back.”
Jay was with her on the night Charles Manson’s gang arrived at their rented home in upmarket Beverly Hills.
He tried to protect the eight-months-pregnant actress but Manson’s chief henchman, Charles “Tex” Watson, shot, kicked and then stabbed him to death. Sharon’s pleas to spare her unborn child went unheard. Watson and his accomplices knifed her 16 times.
‘SOCIOPATHS DON’T HAVE A CONSCIENCE’
Sharon’s friends Wojciech Frykowski and Abigail Folger, as well as Steven Parent, the 18-year-old friend of her caretaker, were also murdered during that bloody August evening, which sent shockwaves through America.
Debra will never forget the moment she was told her sister had been killed.
She said: “I was in the shower when the call came through. My mother ripped the shower door open and said, ‘Sharon’s dead’. Mother immediately collapsed to the floor after those words came out.”
Manson, Watson and three others were found guilty of murder. Initially they were handed the death penalty but managed to get it reduced to life in prison.
Manson died, aged 83, in prison in 2017 but there have been various attempts to free Sharon’s surviving killers, which Debra has campaigned relentlessly to prevent. She said: “All of them have been diagnosed as sociopaths.
Not your regular fairytale
ARE you sitting comfortably, boys and girls? It’s time for a story – of a violent movie director who has fallen in love with a princess.
That big-screen beauty is tragic actress Sharon Tate, portrayed here by Margot Robbie as a gleeful Hollywood starlet bringing joy to the world.
Quentin Tarantino’s camera gazes at her longingly. But the heroes of his tale come in far from traditional forms.
There is Leonardo DiCaprio’s failing fictional actor Rick Dalton, and Brad Pitt as his stuntman pal Cliff Booth – a waster, an emotional, alcoholic wreck who is handy with his fists.
They gobble up every delicious line, with the suddenly older-looking Pitt stealing the show.
For two-and-a-half hours you might think the Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs director has gone soft, because little blood is spilt.
But the shock of the ending reassures us that the Tarantino we love was never far away.
Once Upon A Time ain’t your regular fairytale.
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“Sociopaths don’t have a conscience, they are incapable of understanding remorse.
“They have never apologised to the families for what they did.”
- Once Upon A Time In Hollywood opens in cinemas on August 14.
Race war motives of killer Manson
CULT leader Charles Manson professed to be a Christ-like figure who believed there was going to be an apocalyptic race war.
He brainwashed his so-called “family” – mostly young women – in his California commune and fed them large quantities of mind-bendind drug LSD.
Manson convinced the cult of the impending violence, which he dubbed Helter Skelter after the 1968 Beatles song.
He told them they would trigger widespread violence against black people by carrying out random murders of white affluent families and make it appear the killings were committed by black militants.
He told the family they would rise as the rightful rulers.
Originally sentenced to death, his ended up serving life in prison, where he died in late 2017, aged 83.
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