Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sharon Tate

A haunting and unforgettable beauty. Easily one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood.

An actress who fought hard to make it, working her way up from extra work in Italy and then again in America.

A woman who loved animals.

A muse for one of the great horror directors, Roman Polanski.

A big sister to her two younger sisters, Debra and Patricia.

A woman whose horrific death shocked the world and changed California criminal law.

"My whole life has been decided by fate. I've never planned anything that's happened to me."

It disgusts me how death can over shadow one's life. In the case of murder victims, often their deaths are better known than their lives. In these cases, more often than not, it's the names of the murderers and criminals that are remembered and not the victim. But Sharon Tate was much more than a mere victim. What was done to her, her friends, and her unborn child by a group of pathetic losers with dreams of starting a race war to take over the world is absolutely disgusting. The fact that some people hail their ring leader (whose name I'm not even going to bother mentioning in this article because fuck him) as some sort of hero or celebrity is beyond me. But here, rather than focusing on her tragic life, I'd like to speak about the woman herself, how she was a muse to her horror director husband, and the beautiful life she led.

"Sexiness is all in the eye of the beholder. I think it should be. Absolutely. My sex appeal, whatever it might be, isn't obvious . . . at least to me."

It is rare for someone to be as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside. But when you find one of those rare individuals, you can feel it. Sharon Tate was such a person. Even as a child, Sharon was known to everyone as a pretty girl, and so her mother, Doris entered her into a beauty competition on a whim. Doris Tate only entered Sharon into a few beauty contests, but success seemed to come easily. She won many of these contests as a teenager, leading her to be photographed for an appearance on the front cover of Stars and Stripes magazine.

Her father strongly disapproved of this, but could do nothing to stop it due to his frequent absence from home. However, in 1959, this changed when he moved the family of five to Italy where he was assigned to an army base in Verona. Sharon was transferred to an American school for children of the military where she became a cheerleader and homecoming queen. She spent her junior year of high school in three different schools: Columbia High School in Richland, Washington, from September to late fall 1959; Irvin High School in El Paso, Texas, from late fall 1959 to April 1960; and Vicenza American High School in Vicenza, Italy, from April to June 1960. She graduated from Vicenza American High School in 1961. In high school, she was a cheerleader, baton twirler, star basketball player, and played Juliet in the school production of "Romeo and Juliet." She was also voted Homecoming Queen and Senior Prom Queen.

However, as an actress, she would struggle for the opportunity to get her big break. In 1962, Sharon moved to Los Angeles and she contacted Richard Beymer's agent, Harold Gefsky. He agreed to represent her and began to put her into television and magazine ads. In 1963 he introduced her to Martin Ransohoff, director of Filmways, Inc., who signed her to a seven-year contract and would ultimately give her her big break. She would test several times and audition for "big parts" but her youth and experience were called into question despite there being something undeniably exciting about the young actress. However, Sharon was not deterred. "Mr. Ransohoff didn't want the audience to see me till I was ready" she confided during an interview with Playboy.

In late 1965, Ransohoff finally gave Tate her first major role in a motion picture in the film EYE OF THE DEVIL. Sharon traveled to London to prepare for filming, where she met the Alexandrian Wiccan High Priest and High Priestess Alex and Maxine Sanders, the former of whom duly initiated her into Wicca. It was shortly after filming had completed that she met Roman Polanski. They later stated that neither of them had been impressed by the other when they first met. Polanski was planning THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS, which was being co-produced by Ransohoff, and had decided that he wanted the red-headed actress Jill St. John for the female lead. Ransohoff insisted that Polanski cast Sharon and, after meeting with her, he agreed that she would be suitable on the condition that she wore a red wig during filming. She did begin to win him over with her performance in the film and Polanski, a perfectionist who had Sharon on one occasion perform 70 takes before he was satisfied, he began to praise her abilities. Shortly thereafter, they began their relationship and moved in together.

"My definition of love is being full. Complete. It makes everything lighter. Beauty is something you see. Love is something you feel."

Sharon then returned to America to film DON'T MAKE WAVES, a film that would have her likeness as the inspiration for Malibu Barbie. Sharon had been unhappy with the film and it opened to awful reviews and poor ticket sales. She was quoted as saying, "It's a terrible movie. Sometimes I say things I shouldn't. I guess I'm too outspoken."

Though Sharon and Roman's relationship was far from perfect, rumors and accusations were a plenty of his infidelity, they complimented one another and Sharon was an inspiration for much of his work. When he adapted and directed ROSEMARY'S BABY, Roman had hoped that Sharon would be suggested for the lead. Suggesting her himself felt inappropriate to him. Though she hadn't been Sharon reportedly provided ideas for some of the key scenes, including the scene in which Rosemary is impregnated.

"Roman is such a beautiful, mad human being. Sometimes things are difficult, sometimes good. But it makes life twice as interesting."

At the end of 1968, Sharon became pregnant. She had returned from London to Los Angeles, on July 20, 1969, traveling alone. Polanski was due to return on August 12 in time for the birth of their child. He would never see her again and their unborn child was murdered along with Sharon and her friends.

Sharon's mother was determined for her daughter's legacy to be more than that of a murder victim. It was her death that changed California Criminal Law. In 1982, amendments were made to the criminal code that allowed crime victims and their families to make victim impact statements during sentencing and at parole hearings. Doris Tate was the first person to make such a statement at the parole hearing of one of her daughters murderers' parole hearings and many after her have exercised this right. She had hoped that this change would "help transform Sharon's legacy from murder victim to a symbol of victims' rights".


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