Sharon Marie Tate Polanski (January 24, 1943 – August 9, 1969) was an American actress and model. During the 1960s, she played small television roles before appearing in films and was regularly featured in fashion magazines as a model and cover girl. After receiving positive reviews for her comedic and dramatic acting performances, Tate was hailed as one of Hollywood's most promising newcomers.
She made her film debut in 1966 with the occult-themed Eye of the Devil. Her most remembered performance was as Jennifer North in the 1967 cult classic film, Valley of the Dolls, earning her a Golden Globe Award nomination. Tate's last completed film, 12+1 was released posthumously in 1969, with the actress receiving top billing.
On January 20, 1968, Tate married Roman Polanski, her director and co-star in 1967's The Fearless Vampire Killers. On August 9, 1969, Tate and four others were murdered by members of the Manson Family in the home she shared with Polanski. At the time of her death, she was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with the couple's son.
A decade after Tate's murder, the actress' mother, Doris Tate, in response to the growing cult status of the killers and the possibility of them being granted parole, organized a public campaign that resulted in amendments to the California criminal law. Tate's mother went on to say that the law would "help transform Sharon's legacy from murder victim to a symbol of victims' rights". A book by Tate's sister, Debra Tate, titled Sharon Tate: Recollection, was released in 2014.
On August 8, 1969, Tate was two weeks from giving birth. She entertained two friends, actresses Joanna Pettet and Barbara Lewis, for lunch at her home, confiding in them her disappointment at Polanski's delay in returning from London. That afternoon, Polanski telephoned her as did her younger sister, Debra, who called to ask if she and their sister, Patti, could spend the night with her. Tate declined, offering to have them over another time. Later that evening, Tate dined at her favorite restaurant, El Coyote, with Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski and Abigail Folger, returning at about 10:30 p.m.
Shortly after midnight, they were murdered by members of Charles Manson's "family" and their bodies were discovered the following morning by Tate's housekeeper, Winifred Chapman. Police arrived at the scene to find the body of a young man, later identified as Steven Parent, shot dead in his car, which was in the driveway. Inside the house, the bodies of Tate and Sebring were found in the living room; a long rope tied around each of their necks connected them. On the front lawn lay the bodies of Frykowski and Folger. All of the victims, except Parent, had been stabbed numerous times. The coroner's report for Tate noted that she had been stabbed sixteen times, and that "five of the wounds were in and of themselves fatal".
Police took the only survivor at the address, the property's caretaker William Garretson, in for questioning. Garretson lived in the guest house that was located on the property, but a short distance from the house, and not immediately visible. As the first suspect, Garretson was questioned and submitted to a polygraph test. Garretson stated that Parent had visited him at approximately 11:30 p.m. and left shortly thereafter. Garretson informed police that he had no involvement in the murders and did not know anything that could help the investigation. Police accepted his explanation and he was released.