SHARON TATE BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
Sharon Marie Tate was born January 4, 1943 in Dallas, Texas to Colonel Paul James, and his wife, Doris. As her father was in the United States Army, Tate and her two sisters moved around America and Europe quite a bit, and by age sixteen they had lived in six different places. Even from an early age, she was seen as very beautiful. By six months she had won her first beauty pageant, “Miss Tiny Tot of Dallas Pagaent”, and she continued to enter and win a number more contests as she matured, including “Miss Richland” and “Miss Autorama”. Tate also began working as a model in her teens, and became somewhat a celebrity after a 1960 cover of Stars and Stripes, an American military newspaper.
One day while out walking, she was approached by a choreographer who asked her to appear in a Pat Boone special. After much deliberation between her parents, they agreed and she was allowed to make an appearance in “The Pat Boone-Chevy Showroom” (1960). While living in Italy, she was able to find jobs as an extra in a couple films, her first being “Barabbas” (1961). Here she also met actor Richard Beymer, who encouraged the budding actress to find a full time career in acting and modeling. In 1962 the family returned to the states, and Tate moved to Los Angeles to make a career for herself in the film industry. She contacted Richard Beymer’s agent, Harold Gefsky, who would go on to say “she was so young and beautiful that I didn’t know what to do with her.” Almost instantly, Tate landed multiple commercials and tons of modeling jobs. In 1963 he introduced her to Martin Ransohoff, director of Filmways, Inc., who gave her small parts in various shows like “Mister Ed” (1963) and “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” (1965). He additionally let her act in fifteen episodes of the popular show “The Beverly Hillbillies” (1963-65).
Ransohoff spent over a million dollars on Tate, trying to perfect her acting skills until he was certain she was ready to be a star. Anxious to get more substantial roles, the actress pushed the director for better work, and he consequently cast her in her first movie, the horror mystery “Eye of the Devil” (1966), also known as “13”. After filming the feature in Europe, Tate was given a part in acclaimed director Roman Polanski’s picture “The Fearless Vampire Killers” (1967), a scary comedy about the blood sucking undead. As the shooting occurred, Tate and Polanski grew close, leading her to break up with her current boyfriend, Jay Sebring. The actress would marry the director in 1968.
After filming wrapped up, Tate began acting alongside Tony Curtis for a beachside comedy called “Don’t Make Waves” (1967). She played the role of Malibu, “Queen of the Surf” as Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer billed her. Life size cardboard cutouts of the starlet were placed everywhere, and her part prompted Coppertone to make her their new spokesperson. However, Tate was tired of being cast as blonde sex goddess, and started to believe she might be stuck there forever if things didn’t change. She even began to sarcastically call herself “sexy little me” because of this stereotype.
Although she was disappointed with her typecast, she agreed to appear in “Valley of the Dolls” (1967), based on a novel by Jacqueline Susann that had broken Guinness World Records for the speed in which it was selling. The hype was so built up around the movie that she couldn’t resist taking part in it, if not to only increase her odds of receiving more roles down the road. The serious film became more of a comedy when it was received by audiences, but Tate nevertheless succeeded in giving a well-liked and powerful performance. In fact, in a 1967 article Playboy announced “this is the year Sharon Tate happens…”
She was determined to begin taking better roles, and thus went to Ransohoff and asked that she be released from her contract. He agreed, but only on the condition that she pay him 25% of her earnings in the next four years. She obliged, for she thought it was the only way possible for her to start having more important parts. In 1969 the actress finally got her wish, and was cast in the Dean Martin comedy “The Wrecking Crew”. Tate played an accident prone spy, and did all of her own stunts (as she had also done in the past), which impressed the directors. The film was extremely successful, and brought the actress strong reviews. Dean Martin was so impressed by her performance that he decided to do another picture in the series with Tate. Sadly, that movie would never be realized.
In the meantime, she agreed to co-star with Orson Welles, Vittorio Gassman, and Terry Thomas in the comedy “12 + 1” (1969), or “The Thirteen Chairs”. Directly before filming began, Tate learned she was pregnant, which made the shooting process very difficult and tiring for her. After the film was done, Tate joined her husband in London where he was working on one of his own pictures. Here she made her final publicity photos: a series with Terry O’Neill accentuating her swollen belly and holding up various baby items, and a glamour shoot for Queen magazine.
She returned to Los Angeles for the birth of her baby in July of 1969, and Polanski was to follow on August 12. Tate lived with Abigail Folger and her boyfriend, Wojciech Frykowski, for Polanski didn’t want the actress to be all alone while carrying their unborn child. On August 8, 1969, the three went out to dinner with Jay Sebring (whom she had remained good friends with since their breakup), and returned to the house after. At around 12:30 that night, Tate, Sebring, Folger, Fryowski, and a teenage boy named Steven Parent that was in the driveway, were slaughtered and killed by Charles Manson’s cult members.
Tate’s mother, Doris, soon became an advocate for victim’s rights and would spend the remainder of her life campaigning against the parole of each of the Manson killers. When she died on July 10, 1992, her daughter, and Tate’s sister, Patti, started The Doris Tate Crime Victim’s Bureau, which serves to help victims of crimes and their families. Since Patti’s passing from breast cancer, Debra, the last remaining sister, continues to fight in the name of Sharon Tate for victims everywhere.
1969 12 + 1
1969 The Wrecking Crew
1967 Valley of the Dolls
1967 The Fearless Vampire Killers
1967 Don't Make Waves
1966 Eye of the Devil
1965 The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
1964 The Americanization of Emily
1963 The Beverly Hillbillies
1963 Mister Ed
1962 Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man
1960 The Pat Boone-Chevy Showroom