Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Manson Victim's Friend Posits Alternative Motive: "I Never Bought Into the Race War Theory"

Six months after the infamous murders, Jim Markham — a hairstylist turned mogul whose clients included Paul Newman and Steve  McQueen and was a protege to victim Jay Sebring — hosted a federal sting to uncover the cult leader’s motive.

Jim Markham remembers vividly the days following the grisly Manson murders of Roman Polanski's pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, her former boyfriend and hairstylist Jay Sebring and three others at the director's Benedict Canyon residence in August 1969. At the time, Markham was Sebring's protege and business partner in a budding franchise of men's hair salons that stretched from a star-packed outpost on the corner of L.A.'s Melrose and Fairfax to Miami. Sebring became the second person to die at the hands of the Manson Family members during an infamous killing spree that claimed seven lives, including coffee heiress Abigail Folger and her lover, Polish screenwriter Wojciech Frykowski.

Markham, then 25 and splitting his time between his hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and L.A., was the heir apparent to Sebring's 400-plus clientele, which included Paul Newman, Frank Sinatra and Steve McQueen. Markham heard the news on the radio and got on the phone with Sebring International president John Madden. "Jay and I had talked many times … that I'd be his successor if anything ever happened to him," Markham recalls. "I just took right over out of necessity."

The hair-care mogul sipped a Perrier on the deck of the Majestic Hotel in Cannes when he met with The Hollywood Reporter, a day after the world premiere of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — Quentin Tarantino's spin on the events surrounding the Charles Manson-directed murders. (In the movie, Sebring is a key character played by Emile Hirsch.) By Markham's side was his wife of 32 years, Cheryl — the daughter of Dan Genis, special effects guru behind Star Wars — who came of age during the Manson era.

Revisiting the weeks that followed the killings is both painful and cathartic for Markham, now 75 and fabulously wealthy thanks to founding four hair-care companies, including Pureology Serious Colour Care, which he sold to L'Oréal in 2007 for $280 million. (He pocketed more than $100 million on that deal alone.) Markham has never talked in detail about his entanglement in the infamous investigation that captured headlines worldwide and continues to fascinate new generations. His tale reveals his previously unknown role in the critical months after the murders, as law enforcement attempted to identify the killers and decipher their motives with no break in the case.

Markham was Paul Newman's
longtime haircutter.

Charles Manson, arrested in 1969.

Days after the murders, and at the behest of Sebring's father, Markham began living at the house where he had been a frequent guest: Sebring's Bavarian-style home, once owned by Jean Harlow and located on Easton Drive in Beverly Hills — just one mile away from the Polanski-Tate residence on Cielo Drive. "I'm living in Jay's house with raccoons on the roof — it would sound like somebody walking on the top of the house," he says. "I finally had to move out. I thought I was going to be next. They hadn't caught Manson. Nobody knew why it happened."

As Markham remembers, Tate's father, a colonel in Army intelligence, began working with federal agents on the investigation. The agents told Markham that they believed the killers were connected to the salon (murder victim Folger also had a connection to the hair enterprise given that she was an investor in Sebring International). The salon was bugged, but ultimately that line of inquiry lost steam. Once the Manson Family became suspects, however, about six months after the murders, the feds enlisted a willing Markham to set up a sting at his rented Brentwood home. He was to host a meeting between a woman and a man she had met at a bar, someone who had recounted to her at length how he had met Manson in jail. The former inmate was thought to have information pertaining to the cult leader's motive for the murders. But Markham doesn't believe any of the taped conversation from the sting was used in the trial that took place in 1970 and 1971. "This guy looked spooked, really scared," he says of the meeting.

Five decades later, Markham floats his own theory, one that deviates from the official "Helter Skelter" scenario put forth by Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi: that the cult leader ordered the Tate murders in hopes that it would spark an apocalyptic race war as foretold to him in what he believed were coded lyrics on The Beatles' White Album.

Though Markham is reluctant to denigrate the memory of Sebring, who was his mentor and after whom he named his son, he claims that the late hairdresser knew Manson and suggests that the murders were the result of a drug deal gone bad — an account that aligns with a once-popular explanation that fell out of favor as the Helter Skelter narrative became dominant. Back in 1969, Sebring was nicknamed The Candyman and was said to have used his salon to peddle drugs to the stars.

"I don't want to get into the drugs, but I never bought into the race war theory. I believe Manson had gone up to the house" — Polanski was away shooting a movie — "and Manson wanted to sell cocaine and marijuana," he says. "He showed Jay and Wojciech the product. They were going to buy some of it, but the two of them beat him up at the gate. The next night, Manson sent the Family up [to kill them]." Markham adds, "I've lived with that for 50 years. I still believe that." He declines to elaborate further given that he is still in touch with Sebring's nephew Anthony DiMaria, who is planning a movie about the murders.

In Once Upon a Time, Manson appears before the killings at the Cielo Drive house. The film implies that Manson was looking for record producer Terry Melcher, the son of Doris Day, who with girlfriend Candice Bergen had moved out before the murders. (In real life, Manson, an aspiring musician, was introduced to Melcher, who declined to sign him, by The Beach Boys' Dennis Wilson.)

Once Upon a Time offers a revisionist history of the murders and introduces fictitious characters into the blood-soaked narrative, namely Leonardo DiCaprio's actor Rick Dalton and Brad Pitt's stunt double Cliff Booth. Margot Robbie plays Tate, while Polanski has a bit part, played by Rafal Zawierucha. Markham mostly approves of the film, but he bristles at the depiction of Sebring. "I thought Jay was marginalized, and that upset me," he says. "They portrayed him as this sort of houseboy. This was a very powerful man at the time."

Leonardo DiCaprio (left) and Brad Pitt
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Peter Lawford (right) jokingly
cut Markham's hair circa the '70s.

In the years after the Manson murders, Markham forged his own path — one that diverged from his humble beginnings of charging $5 a haircut in Albuquerque. After winning the silver medal in the Hair Olympics, he had flown to Los Angeles in 1966 to learn Sebring's method of cutting and styling. (At the time, the celebrity hairstylist was romantically involved with Tate and living with her.) Markham describes Tate as a "really sweet lady," but says he never saw the actress with Polanski. "She was always without him," Markham says. "She seemed to like Jay a lot. They were always kissing. Lovey-dovey."

Markham continued to intersect with the Tate family while the Manson investigation played out. "When I took over the salon, Sharon's mother, Gwen, treated me like a son," he says. Markham dated Sharon's younger sister, Debra, who consulted on Tarantino's movie. "She looked just like Sharon. They were a real nice family."

In 1972, he founded Markham Products with backing from actor Peter Lawford, all the while cutting and styling for the likes of Newman ("my first, my favorite"), Robert Redford, Johnny Carson, Paul Anka, Joanne Woodward and Jacqueline Bisset. Newman was particularly loyal, allowing Markham to hang a framed letter in the salon in 1971: "He wrote, 'Dear Jim, just a note to let you know that I'm a Sebring fan and you're still running a first-class operation.' " Markham also taught a young Jon Peters the Sebring method. The hairdresser turned A Star Is Born producer took one of his classes in the early '70s.

While doing a house call at Denis' Modern Film Effects, a postproduction house that worked on Raiders of the Lost Ark and Apocalypse Now, Markham met Cheryl, then a receptionist. They married in 1982 and began running the businesses together. After selling Markham Products in 1989, Markham launched ABBA Pure and Natural Hair Care, one of the first vegan lines in the U.S., then sold it in 1997 for $20 million. With Pureology, a line created in 2001, Markham made his biggest contribution by developing the now-ubiquitous sulfate- and carcinogen-free shampoo. "The concept for Pureology started from a phone call," says Cheryl. "My best girlfriend said, 'I got diagnosed with ovarian cancer. My doctor gave me a list of don't-use ingredients. You've got to make me things that I can use.' " In 2011, Markham founded his final company, ColorProof Evolved Color Care. Perhaps in a nod to Once Upon a Time, salons that stock the ColorProof product line are being offered classes on the scissor-over-comb technique pioneered by Sebring and perfected by Markham.

Although he provided original hair salon items to Once Upon a Time's props department, Markham's input was otherwise limited. His offer to cut the hair of Damian Lewis, who plays former client and Sebring International investor McQueen, was rebuffed because Tarantino already had hired a hair team. "It looked like it was an '80s look," he says of Lewis' cut. "But otherwise, Damian looked and acted exactly like Steve McQueen."

Except for a handful of longtime, non-celebrity clients, Markham rarely cuts hair these days. Looking back to before the Manson murders, he waxes nostalgic. "It was the time of my life," he says. "But then it was really awful. The whole city was terrorized. It went from being loosey-goosey to very guarded overnight. They brought about a whole new era."

Markham (right) with celebrity
hairstylist Vidal Sassoon in 1968.

Jay Sebring Salons were located in West Hollywood,
New York and London, among other cities.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Not a review for "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"

This is not a review for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.  I didn't see the movie.  While my small town (population 452) has a movie theater we never get movies on opening day.  It might be a few weeks before I get to see it.  Frankly, I am rather exhausted by all the hype that has gone on for months.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was never intended to chronicle the so called Manson murders.  Instead  its intent was to capture a narrow time in the past, 1969, a nostalgia piece harking back to the Hollywood back lots of that time, so any comparison to the actual murders is moot.  The biggest draw for this movie is the fact that Quentin Tarantino conceived and directed it.

Despite all of the publicity which featured the casting info, ad nauseam, for Family members and victims if you go to this movie thinking it's a "Manson" movie, you are going to be sorely disappointed.  All that aside, just how well was it received and more important to Tarantino, what are the box office stats?

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has turned out to be Tarantino's all-time biggest opening of any of his films.  In it's first three days, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, it grossed $41.3M and came in second for the week behind Disney's The Lion King, $76.M in its second week.

Exit polls, I guess exit polls are not limited to politics, who knew, say that 47% of people went to see the movie because of the director and 37% went to see it for the cast.  Both percentages are much higher than the norm of 7% and 18%, respectively.  It's good to be Quentin Tarantino.

Reviews of the movie have averaged out to lukewarm.

Frankly, I find the entire experience baffling, and any attempt to laugh off the Manson murders as sitcom fodder embarrassing.  Rex Reed

Though Tarantino mixes fiction and historical fact cleverly and confidently, I'm not sure what he wanted to achieve with the mix this time, and I'm not sure if he knew either. Ben Sachs

For those well-versed in the writer-director's work, it's a credible and intriguing addition to his filmography. Yet at 2 hours and 41 minutes, it also feels too leisurely in connecting its threads. Brian Lowry

As one might expect from Mr. Tarantino's previous films, his new one is violent as well as tender, plus terrifically funny. Yet this virtuoso piece of storytelling also offers intricate instruction on the pervasiveness of violence in popular culture.  Joe Morganstern

Meandering but deliberate, gorgeous and garrulous, it is very much the writer-director doing what he does so well, but in very familiar fashion. Which brings up the possibility that in making a movie about movie making, his real subject here is himself. Matthew Lickona

In-depth, character-driven, ultra-violent, over-long, and near-perfect... all the movie sins Tarantino has been criticized for over the years coming to a head in the most wondrous and cheer-worthy payoff any film fan could want. Kevin A Ranson

Shallow, meandering and tedious with only sporadic jolts of guilty pleasure fun and wit. Star power and charisma are not enough to keep the film afloat. Did its editor fall asleep in the editing room? Avi Offer

So, what say you, our readers?  Did you like it?

Monday, July 22, 2019

What Linda Kasabian Read

Linda Kasabian was a very good witness. Before every trial I tell my witnesses several things: tell the truth, treat the judge like Christ, don’t argue with opposing counsel, and answer only the question you are asked. Listen to the question and answer only that. After I do that I pick some recent event like a football game and say to the client something like ‘Hey, did you see that catch last night?’ Invariably they will respond ‘Wasn’t that an amazing catch?’ I will then respond ‘That’s not what I asked you.’ And to her credit, Kasabian is a very, very good witness in this regard. 

Here is what she said under the less than scintillating cross examination of Daye Shinn. 

Remember, most of what Kasabian read or saw before December 5, 1969 is irrelevant. Until Susan Atkins testifies before the Grand Jury almost everything she read was, factually inaccurate, and not likely to have had any impact on her testimony. 

If we assume Kasabian was either coached or picked up her story from the official narrative that narrative does not exist until Susan Atkins testifies before the Grand Jury or her story makes it into the press. We can quibble on when Atkins told Bugliosi her tale but as a practical matter until that story comes to light there is very little to fill in those missing memory jigsaw pieces.

Q (Shinn): Now, before you talked to anyone about this, did you read about these two events in the newspaper?
A (Kasabian): No, I don’t think so.
Q: You did not read about it in the newspapers, in New Mexico or Miami or Boston?
A: Oh, yeah, when I was in Miami I saw something about Sharon Tate.
Q: Did you read it?
A: Yes, I think I did.
Q: Were there any pictures in the newspaper?
A: Yes.
Q: Did you look at the pictures very closely?
A: It was just a picture of Sharon Tate when she was pregnant.
Q: Did it show pictures of the house?
A: No, just Miss Tate.
Q: Did you see this on TV?
A: No.
Q: Did you not see these events on television?
A: When I was at the ranch?
Q: At any time.
A: When I was at the ranch I did, yes.
Q: And what did you observe on TV as to the Tate incident?
A: Just their names and faces.
Q: Did it show the house?
A: It probably did, yes.
Q: Now, do you recall what part of the house they showed?
A: No.
Q: Is that the only time you saw it on television?
A: Yes.
Q: And you did not see it on television any other place?
A: No, no.
Q: How about magazines, did you read about this in magazines?
A: Yes, just before I turned myself in.
Q: What magazine was that?
A: Life or Look,
Q: Is that the edition where it had Charlie’s picture on the front?
A: No, it was just a small article and it had a small picture of Miss Tate.
All I remember is that they thought it had something to do with homosexual killing, or something.
Q: And is it your testimony that is all the news you read about?
A: Yes.
Q: About these two incidents?
A: Yes.
Q: only the two items?
A: Yeah.
Q: Are you sure or you don’t remember?
A: I think I’m pretty sure, yes. 

(Testimony of Linda Kasabian, Cielodrive.com)

We thus have three occasions where Kasabian admits seeing something about this crime.

1.    The TV the day following the Tate murders.
2.    Something she read in Life or Look magazine that had a small image of Sharon Tate and discussed a ‘homosexual’ angle to the case shortly before she turned herself in.
3.    Something she read in Miami Florida that had an image of a pregnant Sharon Tate.  

[Aside: There is a fourth media exposure identified by her mother when her mother showed her the headline of a newspaper that indicated she was being sought by the authorities after her indictment. Kasabian in that same article responded that she had heard the news on the radio. Mother Tells How Linda Kasabian Changed, San Antonio Express, August 30, 1970.) 

TV The Morning After

We know the killers and others watched the news the morning following the Cielo Drive murders. We don’ know which channel or what they watched. At that point no one reported anything of substance about the crime so it is highly unlikely that would have had any significant impact on her later testimony.

Life or Look Magazine Before She Turned Herself In

The article she describes appeared in Life Magazine, November 7, 1969. It is set forth below. There is nothing in the article that could have influenced her testimony because, again, the ‘facts’ discussed in the piece predate the Grand Jury and are inaccurate. There is only one image and as she testified that is a very small image of Sharon Tate. 

Something She Read in Miami

Although the exact dates that Kasabian was in Miami are unclear, she was there sometime after the murders and arrived in New Hampshire (via Boston) before December 1, 1969. 

In an effort to find this article I scoured every newspaper archive I could access from Key West to Tallahassee. This included both the Miami Herald and the Miami News. I looked at every article that mentioned Sharon Tate or any search term I could think up related to Sharon Tate or the murders. I did not find any image of a pregnant Sharon Tate. 

I then shifted to New Mexico and finally California. I chose the former thinking she got the location wrong and the later because it has the most articles and any UPI/AP article that I might have been unable to access in Florida I thought would likely show up in California. My search ran from August 8, 1969 until December 5, 1969. These dates, obviously predate the murders and extend past Kasabian’s stay in Florida. 

I found nothing. Now, that does not mean I didn’t miss something and if someone knows about this article I’ll add it. But my search revealed no images of a pregnant Sharon Tate in any newspaper. 

The contemporary images of a pregnant Sharon Tate originate from two sources. One is the film in the camera found at Cielo Drive and taken a few days before the crime (left). The other images, such as the two to the right, were taken by Terry O’Neill in England in early July 1969 shortly before she returned to the United States, arriving in Los Angeles on July 20th. Some sources claim they were taken “days before the murders” or on “August 6, 1969”. That, of course, is nonsense.  

Then I reread Ms. Kasabian’s testimony. Notice Shinn never directly asks her where she saw the image. He should have asked that. This entire line of questioning exists because Shinn has some vague understanding that her testimony could have been influenced by outside sources. Actually, that’s giving him too much credit. What he was trying to create was the impression that Kasabian had read the story of the crimes in the press and made up her testimony. He would have been better served
following the ‘false memory’ chain. 

Q: You did not read about it in the newspapers, in New Mexico or Miami or Boston?
A: Oh, yeah, when I was in Miami I saw something about Sharon Tate.
Q: Did you read it?
A: Yes, I think I did.
Q: Were there any pictures in the newspaper?
A: Yes.
Q: Did you look at the pictures very closely?
A: It was just a picture of Sharon Tate when she was pregnant.


Notice that Shinn assumes it was in a newspaper. All Kasabian does is indicate she saw “something”. Kasabian previously indicated that she had not read the newspapers. But she does say she saw something. said it wasn’t. 

Q: Shinn: Now, before you talked to anyone about this, did you read about these two events in the newspaper?
A: No, I don’t think so. 


I don’t believe it was in the newspaper, in part, because I couldn’t find it and in part because it doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t think Terry O’Neill would have turned his photographs over to the daily press. In fact, this is the most frequently appearing image of Sharon Tate at the time which I think tells us something about the press. But he did turn them over to others and that is where I believe Ms. Kasabian saw the image. 

I found two possible sources. Both contain an image of a pregnant Sharon Tate. 

Kasabian previously indicated that she had not read the newspapers. Well, she at least pulls the dodge of saying ‘I don’t think so’. And, to her credit, what she read wasn’t in the newspaper. Shinn is the one who places it there. Kasabian doesn’t do that. 



[Aside: As to the Screenland article since I could not find a complete or readable image of the article. It is set forth in full at the bottom of this post.]

I don’t think Kasabian would have read Screenland, even if she could find it in Miami. But, since she read Life I believe it is likely the Polanski returns to Cielo article is what she saw. After all, she read the other article in Life. The Polanski returns article was joined by Life’s coverage of Woodstock and that may have triggered her interest. 

I believe Kasabian is referring to this Life magazine article about Polanski. But I also don’t think she lied when she said it showed no images of the house. I am aware it does show images of the house.  I believe the only memory of the article that she held onto was the image of a pregnant Sharon Tate, which may have stayed with her because of the shock of realizing/seeing who she actually helped to murder. 

Notice, unlike the other Life article she doesn’t mention the content. Remember she too was pregnant. Given what she had experienced all of that is consistent with how eyewitness memory works. But, if I am right, it does make her testimony, inaccurate on this fine point. 

Another problem with her testimony on this issue is another Shinn problem. Notice he doesn’t set any timeframe. He never bothers to specifically ask her the simple question if she read anything after December 5, 1969 and like a good witness she doesn’t offer anything. 

Pax Vobiscum


Screenland - November 1969 Interview with Sheliah Wells by Marcia Borie

Sharon Tate

"She Was So Generous, So Trusting, She Never Shut Her Door To Anyone."They tell you that Sharon Tate was involved in a sex cult. Or a drug cult. Maybe it was the hippies. Or maybe it was witchcraft. Whatever-the Sharon Tate of the headlines is a little bit lurid and very far out.

But somewhere there was a real Sharon Tate. What happened to her during her years in Hollywood? Why had she ended tragically, so grotesquely? What was Sharon Tate really like? We turned to her closest girlfriend, actress Sheliah Wells, for the answers.

We think this exclusive interview is the truest, most loving thing you'll ever read about Sharon Tate."Sharon Tate was my best friend. Once, we were roommates. She introduced me to my husband. She was the godmother to my baby daughter who is named for her.

"In the six years time that I knew her, she never said an unkind word about anyone. In all the thousands of words that have been printed about her since her death, none really told about my friend - about the Sharon Tate I knew.

We were introduced six years ago by a man who was my agent as well as hers, Hal Gefsky. We got along so well that the first week we met we decided to try and find an apartment together. And that's how it all started - our friendship.

The place we shared was a nice one-bedroom apartment on Clark Drive. It was tastefully decorated in early actress. And there were all these people always dropping in. Sharon really loved being hospitable.

From the beginning, my friends used to tease me. 'How can you wake up in the morning and look at that face of hers?' It was a good question. Sharon was so over overwhelmingly, so incredibly beautiful that anyone not knowing her might think it took a lot to live with such a beauty. But you see that was another thing about Sharon. With all her beauty, everyone loved her. I never heard anyone say a bad word about her, not even another actress. And in this town that's not only a rarity, it's an impossibility!

I think the greatest thing I could say about Sharon was that she was for real. I mean really for real. Like I said, I haven't heard any stories or news reports that tell about Sharon the way she really was. Even I, who loved her, find it hard to say what I mean so that she doesn't come out sounding all spun sugary. Sharon was the type of a girl who had no defenses, no pretenses, she was just herself all the time. Like if a friend said, 'Hey, that brand of toothpaste you're using is no good. It hurts the enamel.' Most people would answer back, 'Well, maybe you think so, but my dentist recommended it, so there.' You know, on the defensive. But if you said the same thing to Sharon, she'd say, 'Oh really? No kidding? Gee, bad for the enamel? Then I guess I'd better change brands.' It was this incredible talent of hers for believing everybody, for being so easily persuaded, that may have eventually done her more harm than good.

She was so trusting, so eager to accept people as they were, so generous. Why, there were times, this past year or so, when a whole bunch of people would be at her house and she'd come up to me and say, 'Hey, I wonder who so and so is.' Just like it wasn't her house and she wasn't entitled to know. Sharon never shut her door to anyone.

Anyway, we shared an apartment for a year. Then Sharon left. For a while she dated Jay Sebring and then she went off to Europe to make a film. She met Roman over there.

You know something funny. I've never seen Sharon on film. I know that sounds strange but I just never did, even as close as we were - or perhaps because we were so close. It's like if a friend said to you, 'I did something yesterday and it wasn't very good, so don't tell.' If you were a close friend, you wouldn't. Well, that's how Sharon felt about her movies. Always she'd tell me, 'Oh, Sheliah, the movie I just made was so awful, don't bother going to see it.' And because I had such love and respect for our friendship, I never did.

As far as Sharon and her relationships with people, she always had a way of finding such goodness in others. If someone hurt her, she'd say, "Oh, Sheliah, I'm sure they didn't mean to.' She'd always make excuses for others. Sharon was just totally loving and also totally vulnerable. She was just a remarkable person, she never gave up on anybody.

Sharon used to say that Wende Wagner and I were her two closest friends. Wende is married to Jim Mitchum. She's a darling girl. Both of us, I think, represented a kind of security and stability that Sharon never seemed to find. We were her touch with the real world. Both Wende and I make up our minds to do a thing and then go ahead and do it. But Sharon was always so easily persuaded, so vulnerable. I keep using that word but it's one that fits her so well. Vulnerable.

There's one thing some people have wondered about. Whether or not the baby could have been saved if the police had come in time. I don't know about that, but all I can tell you is that Sharon wanted that baby more than anything else in the world. That baby belonged to her. Now he will always be with her. They will have a headstone together. It will say: Sharon Tate Polanski and Baby Son Paul Richard Polanski. Yes, they gave the baby a name. He was named Paul for Sharon's father, and Richard for Roman's father.

As far as Sharon's marriage was concerned, all I can tell you is that Sharon and Roman were in love. They were a combination of beauty and genius. She tried so hard to please him.

You know it's funny, but all the time we were roommates, Sharon and I never went out on a double date. Sharon liked one kind of boy, I liked another. In fact, all the time we shared an apartment Sharon never tried to fix me up on a date. Then one day, after she'd moved out, I was really surprised when she called and wanted to introduce me to someone. She had been working on a film called 'Don't Make Waves' with Robert Webber. They'd had lunch together with an actor friend, Fred Beir. Suddenly Robert and Sharon decided that Fred and I would be perfect for each other. Fred and I fell in love on our first date. We were married in January, 1967. Sharon and Roman were married a year later, in January, 1968. My baby, Amanda Tate, was born March 16, 1969. And five weeks later, Fred and I started to have serious problems.

Although Sharon was in Europe at the time, she heard about Freddie and me. So when she came home, just three weeks before she died, Sharon called Freddie and invited him to come up to her house. He went over and she talked to him. That was Sharon. She was always going out on a limb for everyone. Everyone but herself.

There was an ethereal quality about her. She had this thing I sometimes wished I'd had, even though I knew that eventually it might be bad for me. Do you understand? She had this kind of beauty and fragility, and you just knew she was bound to get hurt because of it. But still you couldn't help but admiring that quality in her. She was just such a special person.

Early on the night she was murdered, my phone rang. It was Sharon. She asked me to come over. I told her I couldn't, that I was having a few people in for dinner. Then she said, 'Can I come over to your house?' I said, sure, of course, come on over. But a little while later she called and said she wasn't coming. She was too tired, she said. She'd decided just to go over to a local drive-in and get a hamburger. I told her that was silly. In the time it took her to drive to the restaurant she could come over to my place. And I asked her to spend the night. But Sharon said no. She had to do her hair. She thought she'd better stay home. She was so lonely, she said, she missed Roman and she was so tired. She decided not to come.

The next morning my phone rang. It was a girlfriend of mine named Mary Ann Gordon calling. She had met Sharon and she knew how close we were. She just said, 'How are you?' But I could tell she had been crying. I said, 'I'm fine. What's the matter?' She couldn't talk. She handed the phone to her boyfriend. And he told me.

I couldn't believe it. I just hung up and I was totally in shock.

Fred and I went to the funeral together. When the day was over, we talked about our problems and discovered that they were nothing compared with our love for each other. Without saying it in so many words, both of us realized how precious life together was. And how precious our baby was to us. It was Sharon's death which brought us closer. It was almost as if, in death, she was telling us all how much it meant to be able to live.

I never really stopped to think about it until now, but for the past six years so many good things have happened to me were because of my friendship with Sharon. She was always there. When I went to the hospital to have the baby, Sharon was the first person to come see me. She was so thrilled when I asked her to be the godmother and when she knew the baby's middle name was for her.

And when I got home, Sharon sent so many things for the baby. Come, I'll show you." Sheliah took me into Amanda Tate's nursery. She pointed to the mobile over the crib, a big candy clown standing on a tiny white table, a stuffed dog. "There's just so much of Sharon here." She opened the bottom drawer of the baby's dresser and pulled out a tiny yellow-flowered outfit. She took it. 'See it has bells on it that jingle. Sharon brought that over just two weeks ago. She got it for the baby in Europe.

The same day she brought the baby's dress, she came loaded down with swatches of fabrics. She was decorating her own baby's nursery. She wanted me to look at the colors she had picked out. She had selected red, white and blue.

She was just so anxious that everything be right for her baby. That's all she talked about. She used to kid about it. She's say, 'Won't it be terrible if the baby is born with my brains and Roman's looks!' Then we'd giggle"

The red, white and blue nursery colors reminded this reporter of reading about the murder scene and how there was an American flag draped over Sharon's sofa. I asked about it. Sheliah nodded. "Yes, it's true, there was a flag draped over the back of the sofa. It had been there ever since Voityck and Gibby (Abigail Folger) moved in. It belonged to them. Whenever I went over to Sharon's and I'd see the flag there, I'd tell her it wasn't right. She'd nod and say she knew, but that Gibby and Voityck thought it was funny.

That was Sharon. She knew that the others were making fun of the flag, of the establishment. She didn't go along with it, but felt she might hurt them if she took it away.

That's what I mean about Sharon being so impressionable, so vulnerable, so easily swayed. She'd just accept people for what they were. She got involved with some very odd types because she thought she could help them. But all the while it was Sharon herself who needed the help.

You know, in just the last few months Sharon was beginning to come into her own. She never cared about being beautiful. She never even really cared about acting. She just wanted to love and be loved. And have her baby.

I know that if she'd lived and had the baby everything would have been different for her. Because that is what Sharon really wanted. She was just a little girl from Texas who was so incredibly beautiful that she got swept up in all of the Hollywood nonsense. But all she ever wanted was what every woman wants - a man to love and a baby of her own.

I can't believe that the murderers knew her. To know Sharon, to really know her, was to love her. There is just no way that anyone who knew her could have hurt her so.

Sheliah picked up little Amanda Tate and walked me to the door. She hugged her baby tight. "You know, Wende Mitchum has a little baby, and I have Amanda, and all Sharon was waiting for was the day when the three of us could bring our babies up together. They would have been friends, close friends. Just like we were.  

Monday, July 15, 2019

Some Spahn Ranch Photos

Some pics sent by Surfbat, who grew up in the area. Can anyone ID any of the people?

Added for comparison-

Another for comparison-

Friday, July 12, 2019

LaBianca Home For Sale

The LaBianca home was built in 1922.  It has two bedrooms and one and a half baths.  It's 1,655 sf and sits on nearly 3/4 of an acre.  The asking price is $1,988,800.  The listing is with REDFIN.

The footprint of the home appears to be about the same but it has been extensively remodeled.  A pool was added to the side yard of the home.  A carport was added to the front but it looks like the original garage is still there at the back of the property.  There are more pictures at the Redfin website.

Front view

Overhead front view

Front Door

Living Room

Living Room


Dining Room

2nd Bedroom/Den

2nd Bedroom/Den

Full Bath

Master Bedroom

Rear of Home

Rear of Home

Overhead View of Home

The original building permit for the home.  The estimated cost at that time to build the home was $6,000.