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As the anticipation for Quentin Tarantino’s forthcoming film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, builds, you’ve probably noticed a few character names that seem somewhat familiar. Sure, we all know about Charles Manson, the delusional failed musician turned cult leader who led his followers to carry out a series of gruesome murders in August 1969. But what about late actress Sharon Tate, who was one of the victims of the Manson family killings and is at the center of the upcoming movie?

Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Andrew Cooper/Sony

Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate in ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’

Once Upon a Time in Hollywoodwhich opens in theaters on July 26, tells the story of has-been TV actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) as they try to navigate a changing Hollywood. In the movie, Tate, who will be portrayed by Margot Robbie, lives right next door to Rick, although not much else is known about their connection. Her real life, however, is a different story. 

Sharon Tate and Roman polanski on wedding day
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Sharon Tate’s Home & Family Life

Tate resided in the mansion she shared with her director husband, Roman Polanski (Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown), on Cielo Drive in Beverly Hills, California. The couple married on January 20, 1968, and at the time of the murders, Tate was 26 years old and more than eight months pregnant with her first child.

Sharon Tate inValley of the Dolls
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Sharon Tate’s Movie & TV Career

Growing up in Texas, Tate developed a passion for the pageant circuit. Her love of being in the spotlight made her a perfect fit for Hollywood, and she became a sought after model there. Her career soon led her to appear on various TV shows like The Beverly Hillbillies. She made her film debut in 1961 with Barabbas and went on to star in Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers (aka the film that marked the start of their relationship) in 1967. The same year, she played Jennifer North in the cult classic film Valley of the Dolls, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination.

Sharon Tate pink headband
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Sharon Tate’s Death

On the evening of the murders, Polanski was away in London and Tate’s friends Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger and Voytek Frykowski were staying over to keep her company. As the clock struck midnight on August 9, Manson Family members Linda Kasabian, Charles “Tex” Watson, Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel walked into the house on Cielo Drive and attacked everyone inside. In addition to Tate, her unborn baby, Sebring, Folger and Frykowski, an 18-year-old delivery boy named Steven Parent was also killed.

Interestingly, Tate and her friends weren’t the true targets of “the family.” Manson was frustrated with a music producer named Terry Melcher who previously lived at the house on Cielo Drive. Melcher had once considered giving Manson a record deal, but ultimately decided he wasn’t talented enough. Both in hopes of inciting a race riot and because he wanted to get back at Melcher for slighting him, Manson ordered his followers to go to Cielo Drive and kill everyone they found. Little did they know, Melcher had moved out and Tate and Polanski had taken his place. 

And that’s the heartbreaking but true story of Sharon Tate. May she rest in peace.

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