Sharon Tate is one of those people who are sadly more famous for having died than having lived. As one of the victims of the Manson Family’s murderous sprees, Tate’s legacy has chiefly been that of a beautiful and well-connected casualty.
But though her star shone briefly, it did shine brightly. Born in Dallas on January 24, 1943, as a “military brat” Tate spent most of her childhood moving around, eventually becoming “Homecoming Queen” at her high school in Italy. After a stint as an extra in a few Italian films, Sharon headed to Hollywood. She got her first big break as the shapely bank secretary, Janet Trego, in the popular TV series The Beverly Hillbillies (1963-1965).
In 1967, she was featured in the film The Fearless Vampire Killers or: Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck , where she met her future husband, the film’s director Roman Polanski. Sharon’s big role came that same year when she played the well-built but doomed starlet in the film adaptation of the Valley of the Dolls (1967).
With Tate’s marriage to Polanski her life became more centered around parties and travel than her burgeoning film career. She did appear (uncredited) as a “girl at the party” in her husband’s landmark movie Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and as a red-haired beauty in the Matt Helm spy spoof The Wrecking Crew (1969). Sharon then took time off from films to await the birth of her first child. However, tragically, on August 9, 1969, a pregnant Sharon Tate and four others where brutally murdered by members of the Manson family. Unhappily, her unhappy end has largely overshadowed the all-too-short life of this radiant beauty.