Monday, June 25, 2018

The Coffee Heiress (Part One)

Other Posts: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Final

“The Coffee Heiress” 

The Coffee Heiress 1961
Enter this search on, say, Abigail Folger. Then limit the date range to 1969. Practically every article you will find sums up Abigail Folger’s life in a brief paragraph that almost always includes those three words. To me this places her in the same category as “The Caretaker’s Friend”: a victim who has been largely forgotten.

Little has been written about her. Unlike Sharon Tate, there are no books about her life. Passages about her in anything that discusses the crime are brief and usually focus on the drug angle. To the best of my knowledge no member of her family has ever appeared at a parole hearing on her behalf even though her brother and half sister are both alive. 

At times I think the victims fall through the cracks as we study the ‘motive’ or ‘look at the evidence’. And I feel, unfortunately, that only a small number of people outside this blog even know the name, Abigail Folger. Probably far more people know the name of her murderer, Patricia Krenwinkel. And next year, on the 50th anniversary of these crimes, Abigail will likely become “The Coffee Heiress” once again. 

“Heiress”. In the media this is not particularly positive label.  For me the arrogant first class passengers portrayed in a movie Titanic or Paris Hilton come to mind. "Heiress" is perhaps not as bad as "Princess" but it falls into the same category. I think the label is unfortunate because I have always had a special place in my heart for Abigail Folger. She fought back. She is, at the risk of offending someone, my favorite victim. 

So here is what I have been able to piece together about Gibbie. 

Let's start right there. It is 'Gibbie' not 'Gibby' no matter how many times it is written the wrong way. We know this because she was the editor of her high school yearbooks. The images below (and the one above) come from those yearbooks. I think we can safely assume the editor spelled her own nickname correctly when it appeared dozens of times over the course of three years.

Her Childhood

She was born Abigail Anne Folger on August 11, 1943. She was known simply as ‘Gibbie’ by friends. 

Her parents, Peter and Ines Folger, married on May 6, 1933. 

Peter Folger, her father, was born in 1905. He was the paternal grandson of the founder of the Folger Coffee Company. He attended Yale University where he was a scholar athlete and later served in World War II. He was 38 when Gibbie was born and was on active duty at the time of her birth.

Her mother, Ines Mejia Folger (known as simply, ‘Pui’ to her friends) was born June 25, 1907 in Piedmont, California. She was the sixth and youngest child of Encarnacion and Gertrude Mejia, both of whom were born in El Salvador. Several sources list her mother as ‘Encarnacion’. They are wrong. 

Ines’ father was a consul general for El Salvador. A ‘consul general’ serves as a representative who speaks on behalf of his or her country in the country where he or she is located, although the ultimate spokesperson is the ambassador. He was sort of a vice ambassador. His position gave him access to business dealings between US corporations and his homeland. These connections also made him quite wealthy. One of those connections could very well have been Folgers Coffee. 

Ines attended high school at the Convent in Menlo Park but she never received a diploma. In the spring of her senior year she was caught helping a classmate elope. 

“Friends described Ms. Folger as the center of attention and the liveliest person in any room. A voracious reader, she was curious about a wide range of topics and had opinions on virtually any idea that was raised at a dinner table.”

“The San Francisco native guided generations by example for decades, living life with enthusiasm, curiosity and a large measure of gusto while overcoming a very public and horrifying tragedy, friends said.”

“"I just don't know how she got through it [Abigail’s murder],”said Joan Chatfield-Taylor, a friend of Ms. Folger's over five decades. "She was open about talking about it. And she never lost her sense of humor. It helps when you have one million friends," Chatfield-Taylor said.” 

(“Ines Mejia Folger - Socialite Lived with Zest”, Jill Tucker, SF Gate, July 27, 2007)

There seems to be a lot of Ines in Abigail. They shared an interest in learning, art, books (especially, books), music and each demonstrated a desire to help those less fortunate then themselves and a certain political activism. There was in those days a belief that the wealthy owed something to the country because of their wealth. It needn't be a liberal belief but it existed back then. FDR, JFK, Rockefeller and others didn't need to take the pay cut of elected office.

For example, Ines volunteered at the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic in 1967 and 1968. She held fund raisers for the clinic and was instrumental in securing a grant that was critical to its operations. She later described her work there as giving her 'tremendous satisfaction'.

She wasn't the only one to volunteer at the clinic in those days.

"Kathy Grant Crosby came from her Hillsborough mansion to volunteer her nursing skills for three nights running. Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy came in after their stage show to volunteer in any way they could and when the night was over left a generous donation."

(Sturges, Clark S., Dr. Dave: A Profile of David E. Smith, M.D, Founder of the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics (Kindle Locations 572-573). Devil Mountain Books. Kindle Edition.)

Ines passed away on July 15, 2007 at the age of 100. Her obituary requested that donations be made to the Abigail Folger Library Fund at the Santa Catalina School, a fund she and Peter established after the death of their daughter (perhaps with Gibbie's assets). 

In 1952 Peter Folger and Ines were divorced. Ines claimed ‘mental cruelty’ in her divorce petition. Some sites emphasize this point suggesting her father may have been abusive. I can tell you that the allegation was the ‘no fault’ allegation when ‘fault’ divorce still existed in California. An argument or a raised voice could be deemed 'mental cruelty'. It was the equivalent, today, of ‘irreconcilable differences’. 

In the divorce Ines was awarded $100,000 in cash and ‘other property’ and $200 per month child support for the two children. 

From what I was able to determine Peter and Ines remained on relatively good terms following the divorce and shared joint custody of their two children: Abigail and Peter (born in 1945). 

On June 30, 1960 Peter married his then, 24 year-old, secretary, Beverly Mater. Abigail, seven years younger than Ms. Mater, did not attend the wedding. Abigail’s half-sister, Elizabeth, was born seven months later on January 28, 1961. 

In 1963 Peter traded the family stock in The Folger Coffee Company to Proctor and Gamble for stock in P&G. He continued to serve as CEO of Folgers, now a P&G subsidiary, until his death from prostate cancer in 1980. 

Some sources claim that following Abigail’s murder Peter Folger conducted his own investigation. I was unable to confirm that claim. 

The official narrative also claims that Peter Folger used his legal team to threaten anyone who dared write about the circumstances surrounding Abigail’s murder, especially if those articles contained salacious gossip. Again, I was unable to find any evidence of this. In fact, several articles that appeared at or near the time of the murders were less than flattering about Abigail, blaming her death on drug use, placing her in a crowd of ‘rich hippies’ and mentioning 'hippie underworld' drug connections. 

As a child Abigail rode horses, read books (voraciously), travelled to Europe and El Salvador and learned to play the piano. When Abigail spent time with her father it would have been at The Folger Estate in Woodside, California (pictured below). 

Her mother, at least by the time she graduated from high school, lived in an apartment at 1450 Taylor Street in San Francisco (the blue building, below). 

Abigail traveled to El Salvador in 1958 and 1960, Paris and London in 1961 (in Paris she commissioned her dress for her Debutante Cotillion), and London, again, in 1962.

The Santa Catalina School for Girls

Gibbie attended the Santa Catalina School in Monterey, California. The school is an ‘all girls’, Catholic, school (currently, the lower school is co-ed). According to the school’s website, some ‘lower school’ (grades 1-8) girls boarded at the school during the 1950’s. Gibbie either was one of the boarders or traveled an hour and a half one way to get to and from school every day. The girls in grades 9-12 boarded at the school. 

Gibbie was an active and popular young woman. There is, surprisingly, no mention of her in her freshman year, yearbook, although she was there in 1957-8 but she appears in the next three. 

Sophomore Year 1958-1959

Junior Year 1959-1960

In August 1960 there was a fire at the Folger estate that started due to a short in an electrical cord of a “hi-fi” record player in Abigail’s bedroom. Her father, stepmother and brother, then 15, controlled the fire with buckets of water and fire extinguishers until the arrival of the fire department. Abigail is not mentioned in the article as having been present. (San Mateo Times, August 1, 1960)

Senor Year 1960-1961

Abigail is still remembered at the Santa Catalina School. As recently as 2015 several individuals and one business made donations to the school in her memory. 

Radcliffe College

Following her graduation from high school in 1961 Gibbie attended Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For those who don’t know, Radcliffe College at the time was the ‘all girls’ neighbor college of Harvard College, which was an ‘all boys’ college. The two colleges have since merged and Radcliffe College no longer exists. 

Abigail’s high school senior picture (above) appears in the 1965 Radcliffe Freshman Register. 

[Aside: The year ‘1965’ refers to the ‘class of ‘65’. The register was actually published in August of 1961, before her freshman year.]

Radcliffe Student Directories from the time indicate that Abigail lived in Moors Hall her freshman year, Whitman Hall her sophomore year and then at 12 Walker Street in 1963-64 and 1964-65 her junior and senior years (#12 is the left half of the building pictured, below). 

Moors Hall-Whitman Hall-Walker Street
During her freshman year in college Abigail Folger had her ‘coming out’ party at the San Francisco Debutante Cotillion on December 27, 1961. The event was held at the Sheraton Palace Hotel. Two thousand guests attended the ball. Here, as the phrase went at the time among her peers, Abigail was ‘presented’ to society and literally curtsied to the adults present. More to the point, she was now 'officially' an eligible (and wealthy) young woman. Her escort that night was William Mackenzie. She wore white (not yellow as some sources claim). (Oakland Tribune, December 28, 1961 pp 21 and the San Mateo Times, December 28, 1961, pp 7). 

[Aside: There is a continuing suggestion from several sources that yellow was Gibbie's favorite color. Some cite her 'yellow Camaro' as proof. I found nothing that suggested her favorite color was yellow and, of course, her car was a Firebird.]

During her stay at Radcliffe, Abigail was active in the  Gilbert and Sullivan Players, a theater group. As a member of the Gilbert and Sullivan Players she appeared in ‘The Sorcerer’ on April, 19-20 and 24-27, 1963 (her sophomore year) and ‘The Gondoliers’ on December, 11-14, 1963 (her Junior year). In both performances she was in the chorus.

This image to the right has been floating around the internet for some time and purports to be Abigail in the Gilbert and Sullivan Players’ production of The Sorcerer. It is, indeed, an image from the 1963 Radcliffe yearbook and appears there on page 38.

Unfortunately, this is not Abigail Folger. 

If you don’t know the operas, I can tell you that the ‘costume’ is wrong for a Gilbert and Sullivan production. This young woman is wearing a ‘flapper’ costume, consistent with a Cole Porter production also performed that year by a different theatrical group. 

The image to the left is from an article reviewing ‘The Sorcerer’ performed by The Lamplighters in San Francisco in 2013. (Philip G Hodge,, March 28, 2013.) Note the costumes. 

To the right, however, is an image from the performance of The Gondoliers in December 1963 from the 1964 Radcliffe Yearbook (page 130). Again, note the costumes. The person I have enlarged could be Gibbie. If not, she should be in that picture, somewhere. 

‘The Sorcerer’ received good marks from a critic at the Harvard Crimson, although, as a member of the chorus she is not specifically mentioned.

“The support of the central cast never waned. Lady Sangazure (Susan Bly), Sir Marmaduke (Lucian Russell), the Counsel (Philip Hartman), the Page (Jeffrey Cobb), and the chorus all added fine moments to the show.” 

(Joel Cohen, The Sorcerer, The Harvard Crimson, April 19, 1963)

Mr. Cohen was not nearly as enthusiastic about ‘The Gondoliers’. 

“Yet there were problems. Players and not only minor ones, watched the conductor far too much and far too obviously, instead of listening to the orchestra. They consistently fell behind the tempi, generally correct, set by conductor James Hughes. 

The orchestra had its own problems. If it tuned at all, the effect was not observable; at times, intonation was painfully bad, though spirits were always high. Between numbers, it paused instead of maintaining the ridiculous pace that makes Gilbert and Sullivan exciting.”

(The Gondoliers, Joel E. Cohen, The Harvard Crimson, December 6, 1963)

Abigail’s senior thesis was entitled “Politics in the Plays of Christopher Marlow”. Not what I would call 'light' reading. If you go to Harvard you can read it in the archives of the Schlesinger Library. It is not available on line. 

Abigail Folger graduated with honors and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1965. 

Some sources suggest that Gibbie transferred to Harvard following her graduation from Radcliffe and obtained an advanced degree there in Art History. I was not able to find any reference to Abigail either attending Harvard or receiving an advanced degree there in Art History. I also was not able to find a cite (or link) to a source document or any corroborating website by those making this claim. 

While Harvard’s official website and other Harvard-related sites spend a considerable amount of time noting that women were first admitted to Harvard’s College of Education in the 1920’s, Harvard did not admit women, generally, until 1977 when Radcliffe was finally merged into Harvard. This was long after Abigail. Even Yale didn't admit  women until 1969. Harvard’s official position during the 14 years it took to merge the two schools- Harvard and Radcliffe- was that ‘the women of Radcliffe’ wanted to be in a separate college. Images from protests in the 1970’s suggest this explanation was somewhat less than accurate.

I believe the information about an advanced degree from Harvard may be the result of some confusion. First, if you look at the image above regarding her thesis it indicates her college as Harvard and also identifies her degree as being from Harvard. This is because by the time her thesis was catalogued for the internet, Radcliffe no longer existed as a separate college. 

Second, her degree is typically described by writers as a ‘bachelor of art history’. There were only two undergraduate degrees at Harvard or Radcliffe at the time: bachelor of arts (AB) and bachelor of sciences (SB). Her major was English, which is a bachelor of arts degree but could be mistaken for a a bachelor of art ‘history’ degree. 

Abigail's Search Begins

Articles written about Abigail following her murder, on opposite sides of the country, quoted those who knew her saying that she was searching for something at the time of her death. (Heiress’s Search for Life Led to Death, UPI, Independent Press telegram, August 17, 1969) (She Had Everything to Live For, Michael Hanrahan, The New York Daily News, August 15, 1969) 

Gibbie does appear to have embarked upon a search for meaning in her life after she graduated from Radcliffe; vacillating between the 'fast lane' of Hollywood and the music world and more intellectual pursuits. Maybe, like many others, she gained a new perspective on life or a certain rebelliousness while she was a student at Radcliffe. Maybe after 8+ years of all girls’ schools and debutante balls she wanted something different. At the same time it does appear to me that Abigail was a rather conflicted young woman. Perhaps she was torn between what she was 'supposed' to do (given her family) and what she 'wanted' to do. Maybe she longed to do what other's her age were doing. In the image above she would be 24 and yet, to me, she appears much older. 

After graduation Abigail continued to appear on the ‘society pages’. In 1966 she was a bride’s maid in the wedding of Shella McBean and Philip Howard along with Mrs. Randolf Hearst II. Ms. McBean was in the same 1961 Debutante Cotillion as Gibbie in December 1961 and was likely a friend. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 30, 1966, pp 10). She also makes an appearance on the ‘society pages’ on August 5, 1966 in the San Mateo Times attending a symposium for women on Cervantes and Don Quixote with a who’s who of women from, San Francisco, society. 

Her last appearance in the society pages occurs in January 1968. She attended the wedding of her brother, Peter, in New York City where she was, again, a brides’ maid to Peter’s bride, Barbara Briggs Waterman. Ms. Briggs Waterman was a member of the Society of Mayflower Descendants. For you CIA-Manson conspiracy buffs the article also indicates that Peter Jr., a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps at the time, was stationed at Quantico, Virginia. (“Peter M. Folger Claims Bride in New York City”, San Mateo Times, January 23, 1968, pp. 6). 

Gibbie returned to San Francisco after her graduation from Radcliffe in 1965. She obtained employment at the University of California Berkeley, Art Museum doing what we. today, would call public relations. She was employed there, at least through the spring of 1967. 

[Aside: The University of California Berkeley Art Museum is about a ten, minute walk from the library where Mary Brunner was employed at about the same time and about an 11 minute walk from Sather Gate where Brunner first met Charles Manson in 1967. As you can see, the art museum is west of the other two locations and likely not on any route Abigail may have taken to get to or from work. However, this is the first of several coincidences that place Gibbie near locations or with people associated with the Manson storyline. One other, of course, is the Haight Ashbury Free Medical Clinic.]

In the summer of 1967, seemingly out of the blue, Abigail made a fairly radical shift from the bookish, graduate of all girls schools, writing a thesis about the plays of Christopher Marlow and performing in Gilbert and Sullivan operas, to the girlfriend of an outlaw, rock and roll, photographer.   


Abigail Folger appeared in the May 1967 issue of Vogue Magazine. Most of us have seen the photos of her from that photo shoot (right, below). I was more intrigued by the cover which featured Candice Bergen. Ms. Bergen, of course, would occupy Cielo Drive with Terry Melcher before Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski. 

On June 15, 1967 Gibbie drove down to Monterey, California. She was going to the Monterey Pop Festival with her boyfriend, Jim Marshall. Also in her car were Elaine Mayes, John Luce, Paul Ryan and Suki Teipel-Hill. Four of the five were photographers and Luce, a journalist at the time, was researching a piece for Look magazine about Ravi Shankar. 

Jim Marshall 1967
Jim Marshall. For those who don’t know who that is just Google his name. He took many iconic photos of rock, jazz and country musicians during his career. His image of Johnny Cash flipping the camera the bird is legendary. He was the Hunter S. Thompson of photography. Dennis Hopper has been quoted as saying Marshall was the inspiration for his character in Apocalypse Now. Marshall was a fast driving, hard living, foul mouthed guy who rubbed many people the wrong way. According to at least one source he carried a loaded gun tucked in his waistband. 

On the Facebook tribute page to Abigail I found this:

“Jim Marshall died in 2010 before I could get the chance to speak to him. However, I did learn from a personal life-long friend of his, that his feelings towards Gibbie remained warm, often finding it hard to discuss the nature of her death. He harbored feelings of anger about it, saying if Charles Manson was ever released from prison, he'd be waiting for him at the gates with a shotgun.” (

Given what I read about Marshall while writing this post (ie: pulling his gun on an ad exec and threatening to shoot him), I think he would have blown Manson away if the opportunity presented itself. If he said those words, and I have no reason to doubt the source, I think it also gives us an indication what kind of impact Abigail had on those who knew her. 

Elaine Mayes 1967
Suki Teipel-Hill at Monterey.
Photo by Elaine Mayes
Elaine Mayes. Google her, too. She is also a famous photographer of the times. She put together a book of her photos from the Monterey Pop Festival called ‘It Happened In Monterey’. I highly recommend it if, like me, you are into that time period and the bands who played the music of those times. It is a collection of her photographs from the concert and comments by those who were there. She took a candid photo of an African-American guy buying flowers outside the festival and only learned afterwards that it was Jimi Hendrix. 

Suki Teipel Hill. Her photographic talent is also well known and included some of the biggest names in rock 'n' roll. You can Google her, too. 

Paul Ryan (Not the congressman, the cinematographer). You can check his credits out on IMB. They include The Horse Whisperer. 

John Luce at Monterey.
Photo by Elaine Mayes
The sign at the door of the clinic
John Luce (today, Dr. John Luce). In 1967 Dr. Luce was a journalist and was also the Public Affairs Director for the Haight Ashbury Free Medical Clinic. In that capacity he co-authored a book with Dr. David E. Smith (you can find some posts about ‘Dr. Dave’ over there to the right). The book was titled ‘Love Needs Care’ and was published in 1971. Manson and the Family make a brief appearance in the book.  

During the time Luce was at the clinic so was Ines Folger, Abigail’s mother and, so was Manson. Is there any evidence that Abigail was also at the clinic? Not that I could find. She did attend several fund raising events thrown by her mother for the clinic. Some sources like to place Manson at those fund raisers but since the idea was to encourage attendees to give money to the clinic, not take it, I doubt Manson was invited. 

Dr. Luce graduated from Stanford in 1963 with a degree in English. He became a doctor in 1974. According to "It Happened In Monterey" at least in 2002 Dr. Luce was teaching Clinical Medicine and Anesthesia at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine.

Dr. Luce:

“Although the music obviously stands out in my mind, and although I was in Monterey to focus on Ravi Shankar, my memories of the event are dominated by two people I knew a long time before. One was David Crosby [who attended the same high school as Luce].

"The other person I remember most from Monterey is Gibby. She had lived a rather mild life in the Bay area as a member of a pioneer California family that owned a coffee company. I had always thought of her as a quiet and intellectual woman. Jim Marshall by contrast was in those days a fast driving and dirty talking man whose photography was as well served by his aggressiveness as it was by his artistic sensibilities. Seeing Jim and Gibby together made me wonder how rock music, and perhaps the drugs which were part of rock, produced bedfellows I could not have anticipated." (Elaine Mayes, It Happened In Monterey, Britannia Press, 2002 pp.121)

Elaine Mayes:

“For most of us the Fastival was a spectacular tribal weekend, a pinnacle celebration of a vision for a way of life. But I also sensed that Monterey Pop meant an end of an era. Maybe this inkling was because my sleeping bag was stolen from Gibby Folger’s car in the parking lot of our hotel on the last day of the festival.” (Elaine Mayes, It Happened In Monterey, Britannia Press, 2002 pp. 5)

Marshall, Mayes, Teipel-Hill and Ryan between them took hundreds of photographs at Monterey. They photographed the performers, of course, but also the crowd and each took a number of 'back stage' photos or shots outside the gates of the festival in the fairgrounds. These photographs provide candid images of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Michelle Phillips, Cass Elliott, Brian Jones, Peter Tork, Nico and a host of others who attended the festival. I spent a considerable amount of time perusing these photos with the hope Gibbie might have been in the background of one or two of their shots; all to no avail. 

However, adding another ‘oo-ee-oo’ moment to Gibbie’s life, I did discover several photographs of Candice Bergen back stage at the festival. 

One source claims Abigail makes a brief appearance in D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary of Monterey Pop.  I watched the film. About 6:45 in, right after the scene with Michelle and John Phillips on the phone, a woman wearing a yellow coat and hat, eating something, strolls through the crowd. You can't see her face. Abigail? It didn't look like her to me. The hair seemed wrong, far too 'loose' or 'unkept'. 

[Aside: If, like me, you have an interest in the Monterey Pop Festival there is a very good discussion here:]

Off to New York

In September 1967 Gibbie did what feels like a complete 180. She pulled up stakes and drove to New York City with Andreas (Andy) Brown. Brown had just purchased a book store known as the Gotham Book Mart from its long time proprietor Frances (Fanny) Steloff.  Brown had been working as a rare book appraiser in San Francisco prior to the move. Perhaps they met through the Art Museum or Abigail's love of books. Brown, upon arrival, set about to modernize the shop and add an art gallery on the second floor, perhaps that is where Abigail fit into the picture. 

The Gotham Book Mart, where she worked, has been called the most famous book store in America. Starting in the 1920’s it also was a sort of ‘the social club for American authors and poets’. It was a hub for avant garde literature, banned books and a physical location where authors and poets congregated for 87 years. 

Gibbie had gone from Jim Marshall and bumping elbows with Jimi Hendrix and Brian Jones at Monterey Pop to bumping elbows with JD Salinger and Truman Capote while working as a clerk at the Gotham Book Mart.

According to Brown, he dated Gibbie frequently while she was in New York. He said this about her shortly after her murder. 

“The best description of her was sophisticated. She was interested in the arts and had a craving for
Andreas (Andy) Brown and Frances Steloff 1975
knowledge of the fashion industries.” (She Had Everything to Live For, Michael Hanrahan, The New York Daily News, August 15, 1969)

At a Christmas party at the bookstore in 1967 Gibbie met Jerzy Kosinski, a writer, best known, as the author of ‘Being There’ a few years later. 

Jerzy Kosinski 1969
[Aside: By the late nineteen-sixties, Kosinski had become famous in Manhattan literary circles for his  tales of the horrors he had witnessed in Poland during World War II. These formed the basis of his 1965 novel ‘The Painted Bird’. Then the Village Voice published an article claiming his stories were all BS and even suggesting certain uncredited ‘editors’ had actually written his novels, including the Painted Bird. Jerzy never recovered, emotionally, and committed suicide in 1991. 

Following the Tate/La Bianca murders, Jerzy also added his name to the list of those who were supposed to be at Cielo Drive the night of the murders. He claimed the only reason he wasn’t present was because he and his wife had lost their luggage flying back from Europe, in route to LA. Roman Polanski, in his autobiography, disputed his claim. At least one journalist sided with Kosinski. (John Taylor, The Haunted Bird: The Death and Life of Jerzy Kosinski, New York Magazine, June 15, 1991.)] 

Kosinski introduced Abigail to his friend and fellow countryman, Wojciech Frykowski. A romance developed. In fact, she is described by co-workers in the article, above, as falling madly in love with Frykowski. This seems to have faded in the next two years. The two eventually shared Abigail's apartment for a few months. Then, in August of 1968 Abigail and Wojciech relocated back to Los Angeles. 

Abigail now had come full circle. She moved away from books, art museums and literary figures and back into the world of music, sex, drugs and Hollywood. Unfortunately, this time her search would cost her, her life. This happened because she stayed too long. Like the "Caretaker's Friend", the "Coffee Heiress" would find herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. An odd number of coincidences place her at Cielo Drive on August 8, 1969. She was not only not supposed to be there that night. She didn't want to be there and only was there, to help a friend.

I always hesitate to write these posts. 

They add nothing to the discussion of motive and reveal nothing about the crimes. 

Someone usually chimes in with a 'ho hum'. I don't take offense at that. When I was writing this I even stopped at one point. Then I was organizing the images into folders in my personal data base and clicked on this one. It was staged for the camera, yes. She is about 16.

I think we sometimes lose sight of the fact that the victims were real people, not heiresses, movie stars and iconic hair stylists. Abigail stood, there, on the edge of Monterey Harbor in 1959 or 1960  with her entire future in front of her. Se never, for an instant, could have imagined what would happen nine years later. Her whole life was in front fo her.She had a life to live, love to experience, children to raise (maybe), ups and downs to get through.

Today, that young woman in the photograph would be 75 years old and reflecting back on her life, perhaps surrounded by her children and grandchildren.

She might be telling them tales about Captain Hook and the Santa Catalina School for girls. Maybe last June when a piece came on the television about Monterey Pop she would have said, 'I was there'.  How many of us can say: "I saw Jimi Hendrix light his guitar on fire."

Maybe she would pass on to say she was at parties at the Gotham Book Mart where JD Salinger showed up and explained that f**king book.

She might be telling tales about Jim Marshall, Jerzy Kosinski, Elaine Mayes and Andy Brown.

How many of us can tell those stories?

And all that was taken away for, whichever motive you choose, an utterly senseless reason.

Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of these horrible crimes. I don’t know how much media attention that will generate. I suspect it will be less than it would have been if Manson was still alive. Then again, Quentin Tarrentino says he’s going to release a movie about the crimes on the 50th anniversary. Another film, directed by Mary Harron, “Charlie Says”, is in post-production and likely will also be released in the next year. 

“Charlie Says” will focus on the deprogramming of Atkins, Kreninkel and Van Houten after the trial. They will likely be portrayed with some level of empathy for their lives. The movie might generate a discussion about possible parole. Some will suggest we should all have empathy for the two remaining female killers. This has been suggested here, on another post. 

I offer this, lest we forget.....

Van Houten 

Q (Bugliosi): Are you sorry that you murdered Rosemary La Bianca?
A (Van Houten): Sorry never meant anything. It’s just a five letter word 
people use.
Q: Have you ever shed one tiny tear that you murdered Rosemary LaBianca?
A: I have shed a lot of tears. 
Q: Have you ever shed any tears that you murdered her?
A: Not that I can remember.
Q: Do you feel bad about it?
A: It happened. I don’t feel bad about anything that happened.


A (Krenwinkel): “And I had a knife in my hands, and she took off running, and she ran—she ran out through the back door, one I never even touched, I mean, nobody got fingerprints because I never touched that door…and I stabbed her and I kept stabbing her.” 
Q. “What did you feel after you stabbed her?” 
A. “Nothing—I mean, like what is there to describe? It was just there, and it’s like it was right.”

I was reminded by their testimony of a passage from the Bible that has always struck me as sounding oddly, karmic (karma being a favorite justification used by the Family): 

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” 

I, for one, believe they have reaped what they sowed 50 years ago and will not be joining the chorus of the empathic.

I would, however, offer an alternative because I like to think that one should not be just negative. Maybe, as the 50th anniversary approaches we could do one small thing to remember Abigail Anne Folger. I think she would like it. 

Let's spell her nickname correctly. 

It’s 'Gibbie' not 'Gibby". 

Pax Vobiscum


Monday, June 18, 2018

The Curse of the "Incubus"

The 60's movie, Incubus, has a curse attached to it. Bad things have happened to a large percentage of people associated with it. It also has a connection to the Tate murders. In a weird twist of fate the director Leslie Stevens was one degree of separation from yours truly.


The YouTube movie is here (embed feature disabled)

In the obscure '60s art-horror film, William Shatner is terrorized by murderous sea creatures. What happened off-screen was worse.

The story of "Incubus," the 1960s cult horror film, is bad enough. It's about a beautiful succubus who lures corrupt men to the sea, where she steps on their heads -- and drowns them.

Finding that almost too easy, she decides to seduce a morally upright soldier. But they fall in love. Her succubus sister summons their leader, the Incubus, from his underground lair. He gets back at the soldier by violating his virginal sister and then tries to murder him.

And if that doesn't put the chill in your bones, it gets worse: "Incubus" stars William Shatner. And the whole thing is done in Esperanto.

"Incubus," directed by "The Outer Limits" creator Leslie Stevens, made a minor splash on the underground film scene right after its release in 1966. Few know, however, that the real-life story of the film and its aftermath rivals the on-screen horror. Murder, suicide and kidnapping, for a start. And the movie itself, decades later, seemed to have vanished from the face of the earth.

"Who knows if there's a curse or not," says Tony Taylor, the movie s producer, "but a lot of stuff happened to a lot of people."
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"Incubus" is set in a small village during a lunar eclipse and shot in black and white, which gives it a timeless, otherworldly atmosphere. It was filmed by cinematographer Conrad Hall, who remembers the Big Sur, Calif., setting as "a windswept forest of eucalyptus trees with gnarled limbs that looked like monsters frowning down on you." (Hall, who won an Oscar for his work on "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," took home another in March for "American Beauty.")

"Incubus" is the only known film in which the characters speak entirely in Esperanto -- the made-up universal language created in 1887 by Ludovic Zamenhof using characteristics from a variety of the world's languages. (The film was subtitled in English.) "I never liked the idea of seeing World War II movies where the Germans and Japanese characters spoke English," explains Taylor. "I thought the idea of having devils and demons speak English was a similar thing. Also, we thought it would help get us into the art houses."

The thought of watching a stiff, pre-"Star Trek" Shatner speaking a fake language with spooky music in the background may sound like hell on earth. In fact, the film is engaging, and has more in common with Ingmar Bergman than Wes Craven.

Hall's inventive cinematography, the Esperanto dialogue and the rough-hewn setting work together to give the film a timeless, otherworldly quality. (The village where it's set is called Nomen Tuum -- "An Unknown Time.")

Its brief but thorough examination of purity and corruption is also clever, particularly when the young succubus is complaining to her older sister that she d prefer more challenging work. "I'm weary of luring evil, ugly souls into the pit," she says. "They'll find their own way down to the sewers of hell."

The older sister replies, deadpan, "When wheat ripens, someone has to harvest it."

Then there's the scene where the Incubus tries to lure his wayward succubus away from Shatner at the entrance to the church. When she makes the sign of the cross in defense, the Incubus suddenly becomes an extraordinarily ugly, screaming black goat who commences to ravish her.

But nothing audiences saw on the screen approached the horrors that would be visited on its makers in the time after its release.
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The film was invited to several film festivals, which gave it rave reviews. The program for the 1966 San Francisco Film Festival of that year describes the scene in which the Incubus emerges from underground as "one of the most splendid pieces of horror since the late James Whale conceived the idea of Frankenstein s electronic monster." But all the producers could notice were the gruesome fates that befell their comrades.

The Incubus -- a lumbering, craggy-faced giant -- was played by Milos Milos, a buff actor from Belgrade, Yugoslavia, who'd spent some time as a stand-in for decadent French superstar Alain Delon. At the time, he was dating Barbara Ann Thompson Rooney, Mickey Rooney s estranged fifth wife. In 1966, Milos murdered her, and then shot himself.

In the film, Shatner's virginal sister, whom the Incubus violates, was played by Ann Atmar, a sometime girlie-magazine model. She committed suicide a few weeks after the film wrapped up.

A few years after the film was released, the daughter of the woman who played the elder sister succubus, Eloise Hardt, was kidnapped from her Los Angeles driveway and murdered. Her body was discovered a few weeks later in the Hollywood Hills.

Those were the most gory manifestations of the "Incubus" curse. But there were others: Director Stevens production company, Daystar, went belly up not long after the movie was released. (He ended up marrying Allyson Ames, who played the young succubus. The couple later divorced. Stevens passed away from complications of a blood clot on the heart in 1998.)

Even the film's premiere at the San Francisco Film Festival turned into a disaster. The brand-new print of the film turned out to be missing its soundtrack. Taylor, tipsy from a pre-screening reception, had to scramble to find another print while the audience waited for nearly an hour.

And there were other, more remote but still eerie events. Special guests of that premiere were director Roman Polanski and his date, actress Sharon Tate, who would be killed in the Manson "family" rampage in 1969.

And in the 1970s the film's music editor -- Dominic Frontiere, one-time husband of St. Louis Rams owner Georgia Frontiere -- landed in prison for scalping thousands of Super Bowl tickets. ("That's pretty amazing for someone who had gone to Juilliard," says Taylor.)

The tragedies seemed to center primarily around the actors who played the film's various incubi and succubi. Others involved with the film seem to have escaped the curse.

Shatner went on to land "Star Trek," record his infamous rendition of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" and torture the world with his ads.

Assistant cinematographer William A. Fraker was nominated for five Oscars between 1977 and 1985, for "Looking for Mr. Goodbar," "Heaven Can Wait," "1941," "War Games" and "Murphy's Romance."

And cinematographer Hall went on to acclaim as well. "If there is a curse, it could work both ways, because I was very much a part of that project," he says now. "My curse has been to win two Oscars and to have three grandchildren and a wonderful life."

The film itself never really had much of a commercial life. Today, it's not even mentioned in the Leonard Maltin or Videohound movie guides.

France loved it. Paris Match called it the best fantasy film since "Nosferatu." It also did well at foreign film festivals. "I thought I was home-free -- that it would translate into something big here," says Taylor.

"I went around and showed it to exhibitors and distributors. They would look at it and realize they enjoyed it and it was a good film. Shatner was well thought of, and so was Leslie. So they took the thing seriously. Everyone liked it but had no concept of what to do with it. It was like an actor with talent, only no one knows what to put them in.

"At that time, there weren't videos. Getting a low-budget movie into theaters was an incredibly difficult thing, unless it was a drive-in or X-rated. There weren't many American films being shown in the art houses at that time, and getting into mainstream theaters against the majors was nigh impossible."

By 1968, "Incubus" had hit a brick wall. "Leslie and I decided we would shoot a scene with naked women in it and change it all around," says Taylor. "We were going to lose the Esperanto. Bill was going to do the narration. We shot some parts in Technicolor. But it was pretty obvious that it just didn't work. We looked at it and realized it just wasn't there, and put the stuff back in the lab."

In the early 1970s, Taylor moved up the coast to San Luis Obispo to raise avocados with a girlfriend. She skipped out a few weeks later. Taylor, who has never married, stayed put. "If I hadn't done that you wouldn't be talking to me now," he says. "I'd be long gone like most of my friends are."

In the early 1980s, he sold the farm. "It's all been downhill since then," he says, laughing. "I had an auto accident, and then I recuperated. Then I lived in Mexico, Palm Springs [Calif.] and Taos, N.M. I was looking for something, I guess. It was a feeble attempt to find some meaning in all this before it got too late."

He ended up not far from his old avocado farm, and in 1993 decided to look into putting the film on video. "I don't know why I was thinking of it," he says. He called the lab and learned that the film had been lost.

The curse again.
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"I've had stuff disappear from the lab before, and the thing about it is, it s usually a conspiracy," says Hall. "Things don t just disappear."

Taylor agrees. "It isn't like storing it in your garage. That's what they do. They have vaults and vault custodians and they guard film negatives. And this was really a lot of stuff."

He sued the company for damages and won, and resigned himself to never seeing "Incubus" again. "But the nature of the curse is that you cannot kill this film," he says. In 1996 a friend, Hollywood agent Howard Rubin, called and said he d found a print at the Cinimathhque Frangaise in Paris. Taylor was shocked.

"It turns out they had been running it for 30 years to packed audiences," he says. "I had no idea."

But he still wasn't home-free. "I thought that, as the copyright owner and producer, I could tell them, send the print over here and I'll borrow it and send it back to you," he says.

Instead, he had to negotiate with the organization, which dragged its feet for a year. "They acted like I wanted to go into their archives and smoke crack in the vault," says Taylor. Finally, the UCLA Film Archive contacted the Cinimathhque on his behalf, and it sent a print to be copied at a French lab.

But that still wasn't the end of it. "The lab called to tell me the perforations were messed up," he says. "I had to make optical negatives and redo [the] whole thing. I went back and forth for a long time, sending faxes and wiring money.

"Then one day Fed Ex showed up with a bunch of large cans of film. I had no idea if it was a film you could see or if it would be all scratched."

That was in the summer of 1998. He and two restoration consultants brought the film to a lab in Los Angeles. "I was surprised at how good it looked," says Taylor. "It was a lot better film than I remembered."

Taylor cleaned out his savings restoring the film. The French version had French subtitles; he had to pay to have English subtitles put on over the French ones. He was able to consult the only remaining version of the script, which he'd had bound in leather back in 1965. "I'd expected to have 45 of [the scripts] lined up in my office," he says. It was prohibitively expensive to remove the French subtitles. "It'd be nice if they weren t there, but I was happy to get anything," he says.

He sold the French rights to a large French company, and is purveying the video out of his house, where he divides his time between "talking to Academy Award nominees and schlepping stuff to the post office." (The video is available through Taylor's Web site.)

He can't afford to release the film theatrically. But later this year Taylor will offer the film on DVD, complete with an introduction by cinematographer Hall.

"When someone hears that it's black and white and 35 years old, they think it's going to look like some World War I newsreel," says Taylor. "Then they hear it's in a foreign language and think they're in for a root canal or something. They're usually pleasantly surprised.

"But I don't think I'll make another movie in Esperanto."
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So was there really a curse?

If there was, Taylor s own scourge has finally been removed. Picking up where he left off 30 years ago, he recently optioned a screenplay for "a rock 'n' roll story" by Jake Records head John Hartmann. Graham Nash has signed on to do the music, and production starts next year.

"There s somebody who hasn t been cursed, and that s the star," says Hall. Shatner "goes on and on, doing better and better. If Tony wanted to remake it, he could still play himself -- just play him older. Play everybody a little older. Maybe that s what Tony ought to do, to take out the curse.

"I ve had misfortunes, too," Hall adds. "But I don t believe that s part of any curse. That s just due to my own bad judgment."

Original article HERE