The Real Events We Need to Know About to Understand “Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood”
The new Quentin Tarantino film Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood that was recently released has all the chances to become a real box-office hit. However, you won’t see a lot of blood, fighting, or swearing in this film. The entire plot is centered around actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Rick is an actor who is growing old and he is doing everything he can to find his place in the movie industry. While he is trying to learn more about his inner self, we also see the young and beautiful actress, Sharon Tate. She walks around the streets of sunny Los Angeles, she buys books, she goes to movie theaters, and she has no idea that someone just around the corner is preparing something terrible for her.
A Bright Side writer was curious to learn more about Sharon Tate’s story and how she was in real life, which is necessary in order to understand the point of the film. Actually, Quentin Tarantino insists on it.
Who were Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski?
The story started in 1967 when the young American actress and model, Sharon Tate, charmed the young polish director, Roman Polanski. At the time, Roman was making his first steps toward a Hollywood career when he shot his iconic film, Rosemary’s Baby. It was even noted to be a worthy successor of Hitchcock’s legacy. The couple met on the set of his movie Dance of the Vampires and they got married about 6 months later.
While Roman Polanski was writing new scripts, his wife was building her movie career. Sharon did several films, she attracted the attention of some Hollywood agents, and appeared in Playboy. Despite the fact that regular viewers still didn’t know her name, she definitely had a great future ahead of her and she was only 25 years old.
In 1969, Tate got pregnant. The child was supposed to be born at the end of August. Just before the baby’s due date, the couple had moved into a new house on Cielo Dr. in Los Angeles, and they were enjoying their beautiful lives in the Hollywood Hills.
Polanski had to leave his pregnant wife for a little while and go to London where he was planning to start working on The Day of the Dolphin. In order to make sure that Sharon didn’t get bored, Roman invited his friends to live in their house — stylist Jay Sebring (who was Sharon’s ex-fiancè and her best friend at the time), amateur actor and scriptwriter Voytek Frykowski, and coffee heiress Abigail Folger.
At the same time, on the other side of Los Angeles, something terrible was forming.
It is important to mention here that everything was happening in the 60s — economic changes, the Vietnam War, and hippie subcultures. These subcultures often formed hippie communes, which were a totally regular thing, especially for warm regions like California.
In the year that the events happened, a commune led by Charles Manson appeared in Los Angeles. He had already been arrested twice and there were rumors that he showed signs of psychopathic behavior, but he had amazing speaking abilities. His complicated talking about life and death made him into something like a prophet, and later — the leader of the commune. He had a lot of followers (mostly girls). They called themselves a family and they started traveling around the country on an old school bus, they used drugs, they practiced free love, and they robbed houses. In 1969, Charles Manson located his group in Los Angeles. The home for his commune was a place called the Spahn Ranch, where westerns used to be shot in the past. Manson became friends with the blind owners and they allowed him to live there for free in return for some small favors, like helping them take care of things and a regular sexual relationship with the members of the commune.
Everything was going normally until one day Manson realized that the song Helter Skelter by Paul McCartney was some kind of an omen and the White Album by The Beatles was the new gospel. He talked about this to his brothers and sisters and said that God told him about the upcoming apocalypse called Helter Skelter. And right before the apocalypse, an interracial war was supposed to be started by Manson...
Soon, Manson felt that Helter Skelter had to star in the summer of 1969. This was the plan: “the family” was supposed to do a series of big murders of rich white people — the people in Hollywood. And it all had to look as if it was The Black Panthers — an Afro-American organization. This was supposed to start a new Civil and then interracial war where black people would win. Right after that, Manson and his followers were going to act in order to take full control of the situation and make sure than white people would rule, because black people wouldn’t know how to use their power.
He thought that this was the perfect plan. They needed their first victim. Manson started thinking about his past offenders, and he chose the famous producer, Terry Melcher. There is a story about Charles Manson dreaming of becoming a musician and Terry was the person that told the future psychopath that he didn’t have any talent at all.
Anyway, the producer had sold his old mansion to the Polanski family. And even though Manson knew that his old friend had moved, the first house for starting the interracial war was already chosen: it didn’t matter who the rich white people were who were killed.
On August 8, Charles claimed that Helter Skelter had started and he ordered the family members to commit their first murder.
On August 9, a terrible murder happened.
Coroner’s office personnel wheel the body of film actress Sharon Tate.
On August 9, at night, 4 members of the family — Susan Atkins, Patricia Dianne Krenwinkel, Linda Kasabian, and Charles Watson took knives and guns, and snuck inside the house where Sharon Tate and 3 of her friends were resting. The drugged hippies took all their money and started a slaughter. Sharon begged them to take her hostage until her son was born, she was in her 9th month of pregnancy. In total, the hippies stabbed the victims 102 times.
The only person to survive that night was handyman William Harrison. The small house he lived in, was away from the main building. And the murderers just didn’t notice him. Later, William told the police that he witnessed the crime, but he did nothing.
After what happened, Roman Polanski sunk in to a deep depression. Some people even said that his film Rosemary’s Baby was an omen of what was coming. The film tells the story of a woman with a difficult pregnancy that ends with something terrible.
At the same time in Los Angeles, there were several more other violent murders of rich white families. And all of Hollywood was paranoid. They built fences around their houses, the prices for dogs was 3 times higher and many celebrities even left their houses. Everyone was waiting for the criminals to be arrested.
In the end, Manson’s “Family” was arrested. The members of the commune didn’t understand what they were arrested for because they were the followers of a new faith and their teacher was the impersonation of Christ. Charles Manson got 9 “life” in prison sentences, and the 4 people that killed Sharon and her friends each got one “life” in prison sentence. Charles Manson died in jail on January 1, 2017 from colon cancer. Susan Atkins died in 2009 from brain cancer. The other members of the gang are still in jail.
Have you already seen the new Tarantino film? We would love to know your opinion about it. But, please, avoid spoilers!