Why Sharon Tate's Murder Still Captivates America 50 Years After Charles Manson and Family's Ghastly Decisions

Glamorous, and pregnant, Hollywood star Sharon Tate was murdered 50 years ago on August 9, at the hand of Charles Manson and his "family." The story of her gruesome death has become one of America's most haunting, infatuating crimes, partially because of the possible success she had ahead of her, both as an actress and as a mother, and partially because of the ghastly crimes Manson and his followers committed.

Tate was one of a few notorious crimes Manson had a hand in during the summer of 1969. Not only was she killed, but so were a handful of other people in her rented home. In addition, Manson and family went on to kill another two people, the LaBianca couple, on August 10.

But how did the night Tate was killed really transpire? In 2019, there are countless stories and re-enactments. Most recently, film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood recreated the night Tate's home was stormed by vengeful followers of Manson (though, spoiler, it's quite different from the real story.) Documentaries on the subject have been released as well. From television shows like Aquarius to books like The Girls by Emma Cline, Manson's influence still has a dark imprint on modern-day true crime. Here's how that happened.

Sharon Tate
Sharon Tate in film "The Wrecking Crew." Bettmann/Getty

Manson was in the business of creating a cult in the late '60s, one that eventually turned to crime. The family, as it was called, took place in some theft, but individual members turned to murder only when Manson asked for it. Tate did not know Manson. Instead, the home she was renting with her husband Roman Polanski was where a former music producer lived. The producer had declined to work with Manson, who wanted to be a famous musician.

Because of the letdown, Manson told members of his family to kill those residing in the house, seemingly out of anger or resentment. Four of Manson's family members killed Tate, stabbing her 16 times, as well as four others who were at the home with her.

Three of the family members are still alive today, and in prison for the murder, according to Biography. They've all been denied parole.

Some of the more gruesome details of Tate's death are reasons why the story has caught such infatuation by the general public. Manson was a white supremacist who likely wanted to start a race war. Though he did not kill anyone himself, he ordered the crime scenes and also wanted to dress them as if another race committed the crimes. Some believe Manson wanted to clear the earth of all races other than white, while others think he staged the crimes to frame the Black Panthers.

To true crime fans, and even those with little interest in the murder genre, Manson's crimes are so unbelievable, as is his possible race motive, that it's hard to look away. Though America has had its history of cults and offensive behavior, Manson's influence of dozens of people, along with his behavior until his death—he tattooed a swastika on his head in prison—was utterly captivating an unrelatable for so many, it continues to make news, movies and more, maybe just to show the darkness of humans, and how it can impact an entire community and country.

Why Sharon Tate's Murder Still Captivates America 50 Years After Charles Manson and Family's Ghastly Decisions | Culture