'Once Upon a time in Hollywood': The true story behind the Tate murders and how they tie into Tarantino's ninth film

The murders were carried out by members of the Manson Family on August 9, 1969, and claimed the lives of five people including an eight-month-pregnant Sharon Tate


                            'Once Upon a time in Hollywood': The true story behind the Tate murders and how they tie into Tarantino's ninth film

Quentin Tarantino's 9th film, 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' is not based on a true story, but is set in the backdrop of one. The film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Al Pacino, and Margot Robbie in lead roles is about an actor Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) who goes out of favor after his successful TV show comes to an end. He, along with his body double Cliff Booth (Pitt) and his agent (Al Pacino), tries to get back into the graces of those who held all the power in the golden era of Hollywood in the 1960s. Actor Sharon Tate (Robbie) is Dalton's neighbor and, somehow, her murder in 1969, becomes a central part of the plot.



 

The Tate murders, as the gruesome attack has been popularly dubbed, was orchestrated by cult leader Charles Manson with the help of his followers who he called his 'family'. The mass murder was committed by Manson's followers on August 8 — 9, 1969 and claimed the lives of five people including Tate, who was eight and a half months pregnant.

Three of Tate's friends who were visiting her and an 18-year-old visitor were also killed. Plotted by Manson, the attack was carried out Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkel.



 

Roman Polanski, who was married to Tate at that time, was not home as he was working on a film in Europe. Manson, according to reports, did not particularly have anything against Sharon or the filmmaker but was obsessed with where Sharon lived — 10050 Cielo Drive, Los Angeles.

The previous resident of this address used to be record producer Terry Melcher, who had snubbed Manson once. Manson, at that time, lived on the fringes of Los Angeles music scene. According to Watson's autobiography, Manson had instructed the group to "totally destroy everyone in [the house], as gruesome as you can."

Sharon Tate was killed by Charles Manson family in 1969. (Source: Getty Images)
Sharon Tate was killed by Charles Manson family in 1969. (Source: Getty Images)

The bodies of the victims were found the next day by Sharon's housekeeper Winifred Chapman. Initially, Susan confessed to committing Sharon's murder to her cellmates, however, she later recanted her confession.

Tex, in his autobiography, revealed that Susan had, in fact, not touched anyone and that it was he who had committed the crime. He had chosen to give false testament because of the prosecutor, and jury who were convinced while trying other Tate-Labianca defendants that it was Susan who had committed the crime. Sharon was stabbed 16 times. 



 

On August 9, 1969, a day after the murders at Sharon's residence, the Labianca murders were committed by Manson, Tex and Leslie Van Houten — who was the youngest cult member at 19. The group killed Rosemary Labianca and her husband Leno. At this time, it is not clear if 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' will feature these murders. However, Sharon's murder will play a key role in the plot of the film.

It would be interesting to see how Tarantino ties the murders in with the story of Rick and Cliff's life, and what the two friends do after finding out about the murders.

'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' is slated to release on July 26 and may premiere at Cannes Film Festival in May.