Fashion Profile: Sharon Tate
Sharon Tate, an icon of the 60s, was famed for her eclectic style and innocent on-screen presence. Similar to Brigitte Bardot, Tate worked as an actress and model throughout the decade and was hailed as one of Hollywood's most promising newcomers.
Born: 24th January 1943
Famous for: Although her horrific murder sometimes overshadows Tate's career, she was famed for her acting in films like "Valley of the Dolls" and "The Fearless Vampire Killers", regularly appearing as a cover-girl in fashion magazines.
Style Characteristics: Short shift dresses, she had a free-spirited style (Sharon often wore leather straps on her feet to look like sandals so she could walk into restaurants barefoot).
Sharon Marie Tate was born in Dallas in the early 40s to Doris and Paul Tate. Her father served in military intelligence, which meant that he was frequently away from home and often had little say in family matters.
Even as a child, Sharon was known to everyone as a pretty girl, and so her mother, Doris entered her into a beauty competition on a whim. Doris Tate only entered Sharon into a few beauty contests, but success seemed to come easily. She won many of these contests as a teenager, leading her to be photographed for an appearance on the front cover of Stars and Stripes magazine.
Her father strongly disapproved of this, but could do nothing to stop it due to his frequent absence from home. However, in 1959, this changed when he moved the family of five (Sharon had two younger sisters, Patti and Debra) to Italy where he was assigned to an army base in Verona.
Sharon was transferred to an American school for children of the military where she became a cheerleader and homecoming queen. Adored by everyone.
"She was an ordinary girl, with a simple, down-to-earth kindness but soon became a sexy and glamorous flower child."
While still at school in Italy, Tate and her friends became aware of, "Barabbas" (a film in production nearby). Sharon obtained parts for her and her friends as film extras. One of the films actors, Jack Palance, noticed Sharon's beauty in the crowd of extras and introduced himself. Palance encouraged her to pursue a film career, sparking an interest for Sharon.
In 1961, another film, "Adventures of a Young Man" was being filmed near Verona. Sharon was once again hired as an actress, catching the eye of yet another famous actor, Richard Beymer. He was impressed by her appearance, but couldn't judge her talent accurately enough as her part in the film was so small. He arranged for her to visit his agent, Hal Gefsky.
After graduating, Sharon convinced her family to let her fly back to America so that she could pursue an acting career - "Nineteen year old Sharon Tate was about to slip effortlessly into fame".
From Ordinary Girl to Glamorous Icon
Sharon never fantasised about being a "movie star", and yet success for her was never hard to come by.
Although she only gained small parts in television, Sharon Tate was becoming well known as a socialite. She met celebrity hairdresser, Jay Sebring at the Whiskey a Go-go (a popular haunt for musicians such as Jim Morrison). Tate and Sebring began a serious relationship, and started living together at his house on Easton Drive.
Sharon's healthy, all American, California girl look was in demand by photographers and casting directors, yet she was often despised by already famous female Hollywood actresses (such as Elizabeth Taylor and Kim Novac) because Sharon seemed to pose as a threat to them, a downside to her angelic beauty.
During her lifetime, Sharon Tate co-starred in seven major films. Her first being a macabre thriller, "Eye of the Devil", where Sharon played the part of a witch.
At that time, Sharon's aspirations in life were gravitating towards starting a family. However, after meeting her future husband, director Roman Polanski, Sharon's focus was drawn back into acting. Polanski cast her in her second film, "The Fearless Vampire Killers". After a series of dinner meetings (originally arranged for the purposes of casting her in the film), Sharon and Roman had fallen in love.
While Roman filmed "Rosemary's Baby", Sharon starred in an adaptation of the book, "Valley of the Dolls". It was in this film that Sharon was recognised as a style icon at the time; as the film's publicity played up her similarity to the character, Sharon often referred to her new image as "sexy little me".
Sharon and Roman became a couple famed for their occupations and became a fixture in the late 60s Hollywood "in crowd".
The couple socialised with actors, musicians (and even dined with senator Robert Kennedy, the night of his asassination). As their circle of celebrity friends grew larger, so did the public’s interest in their careers.
Despite Sharon's knowledge of Roman Polanski's infidelities, they married in Chelsea, London, in 1967. Roman famously said of his marriage to Sharon, "I want a hippie, not a housewife".
A little over a year after their marriage, Sharon fell pregnant with Roman's baby. However, she knew her husband didn't want to bring up his own children (he had spent most of his childhood in Nazi concentration camps and so his own childhood memories were tainted with their horrors). Sharon kept the pregnancy a secret from him for four months, until she began to show.
A British Pathe report on the wedding
of Sharon Tate & Roman Polanski
By the summer of 1969, Sharon and Roman had moved to their new house on Cielo Drive, in time to prepare for their new baby. Sharon was at home with a few friends, as Roman had stayed in Europe to prepare for his new film.
On the 10th of August 1969, the bodies of Jay Sebring, Voytek Frykowski, Abigail Folger, and Sharon were found dead by the housekeeper. The deaths created shock throughout Hollywood as fear gripped everyone.
They had been murdered by disciples of Charles Manson, known as the Manson family. Manson directed his followers to Sharon's house on Cielo Drive, simply because he knew it well. Sharon Tate had been murdered completely at random.
"Many people I know in Los Angeles believed the 60s ended abruptly on August 9th, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive travelled like bush fire throughout the community"
-Author Joan Didion
Sharon died aged 26, she was eight and a half months pregnant.
Sharon at her home on Easton Drive
Theatrical trailer for Sharon's second film,
"The Fearless Vampire Killers"
Footage of Sharon Tate
"All Eye on Sharon Tate"
-Click here to watch "Sharon Tate: Murdered Innocence"-
-Click here to watch "Doris Tate, In Her Own Words"-
-Click here to watch "Doris Tate, In Her Own Words"-