I hate to say that I'm a Tate-LaBianca or Helter Skelter junkie but I've read Vincent Bugliosi's book many times, as well as various other books and articles on the case. Eventually I became a fan of Sharon Tate's - - her sister Debra's book (Sharon Tate: Recollection) is a gorgeous collection of photos and remembrances.
When I heard that Ed Sanders, author of The Family, was releasing a new book, and on Sharon Tate, I was excited and decided that I most definitely needed to read the book. That excitement quickly fizzled out when I read excerpts through The Daily Mail.
Among other things claimed, Sanders writes in Sharon Tate: A Life that Sharon participated in threesomes with her husband, Roman Polanski; that she participated in orgies with other famous Hollywood folk that was captured on video; that Polanski showed these videos to his friends; that Sharon was initiated into witchcraft in 1965 following filming of Eye of the Devil and pictures of her inside a consecrated magic circle were taken. There are also quite a few allegations that in an effort to hold on to Polanski, Sharon got caught up his drug-fueled and sexual decadence, that Polanski wanted Sharon to have an abortion and when she refused, he refused to have sex with her and began an affair with her friend Michelle Phillips, and that during that last summer of her life, Polanski was dismissive of Sharon, calling her a "dumb hag."
I'll start with the Polanski allegations first. I think it's fairly well known that Polanski had no desire for children; I believe he admitted that himself in his autobiography. It's also well known that he was less than faithful to Sharon during their courtship and marriage and despite what may have been said immediately following the murders, Sharon was well aware and it was a source of unhappiness for her. She was considering leaving Polanski and the marriage after her baby was born (sadly, she did not get that chance.)
As far as the drugs go, Sharon was no saint. She had experimented with drugs before meeting Roman so I'm not sure it's fair to claim that he got her into that lifestyle. He told the LAPD (and may have mentioned in his book) that the first time he dropped acid, he had done so with Sharon and it was her fifteenth or sixteenth trip. She also appeared to be a recreational marijuana smoker before she met the director so I'll take the drug related stories with a relatively small grain of salt, at least.
After the murders, when the LAPD was searching the residence on Cielo for evidence, they found a tape of Sharon and Roman having sex. If there were other videotapes on the property, as Sanders alleges, don't you think the LAPD would have booked them into evidence? It's not like anyone would have had time to search the property and get rid of them - - the home was locked down once the bodies were discovered. If the tapes existed, the other parties on the film would have a possible motive for murder. Because of this, I don't think these videos ever existed . . . just another rumor out of many in this case.
The allegation that Sharon was participating in orgies goes against what everyone has said about her since 1969. She was said to be sweet, almost naïve, and a homebody at heart who only wanted a home, husband and baby. If Sharon did indeed participate in these acts, where were these people in 1969 or 1970?
The witchcraft initiation rumor - -and it's just that, a rumor - - has been around for years. There is no proof or substance to it. Again, if there were indeed pictures of Sharon being initiated, where are they? Surely in this age of eBay and internet, they would have surfaced by now.
Sanders also got the facts glaringly wrong. He claims that Terry Melcher was the owner of the house at 10050 Cielo Drive but the owner was actually Rudy Altobelli. Melcher was the tenant at the house prior to the Polanskis moving in. It may not seem that large of a mistake but it certainly makes you call Sanders' other so-called facts into question.
Perhaps most amazingly is that Sanders claims that Manson was paid $25,000 by a Satanic group to off Sharon because of something relative to the Robert Kennedy assassination she overheard. This is so ridiculous it's almost not worthy of comment. But let's address it anyhow, for argument's sake. $25,000 was a large bit of money in 1969 (and would equate to over $650,000 today.) If Manson had collected that sum, where was it? Did he have some secret bank account that Bugliosi never found? And if Manson was paid to knock off Sharon Tate, why would he send a vagabond band of killers to her home, with others present, and with such unwieldy weapons as a bayonet and 40 plus feet of rope? Why would they commit such overkill? Why butcher Rosemary and Leno LaBianca the next night? None of it makes sense. Never mind that Sharon supposedly knew something about the RFK assassination that was kill worthy. If she knew something, don't you think she would have told Roman Polanski? And wouldn't he have mentioned it to the LAPD when they were attempting to find a motive?
Despite how good The Family was, Sanders failed miserably on this one. Who was his source, Manson? I think Sanders was trying to find the most salacious and juicy gossip in order to sell his book. Shame on him - - just another person who has no difficulty in murdering Sharon's memory.
The Daily Mail article - - big grain of salt, folks - - can be found here.