Sunday, May 29, 2011

After dark.

Interviews with the couple Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate on Playboy After Dark, circa 1967

I've always found Valley of the Dolls actress Sharon Tate and infamous Rosemary's Baby director and internationally wanted controversial criminal Roman Polanski such a strange and haunting couple.  Sharon Tate is always so perfect, so blonde, so sweet and so vacant. Its hard for me to really separate her from that Stepford Wives Valley of the Dolls female image.  I don't want to be too disparaging of her, she really did seem lovely, but in the most distant and plastic way.  Its so eerie that she was so brutally killed in such mysterious, cult-like rituals by other women, willing slaves submissive to the misogynistic mind control of wildman and oddball Charles Manson.   

Although it was stated by all his friend and family that Polanski was completely broken and shattered by Tate's death, it is hard to view him as the grieving widower, knowing he was still an infamous womanizer during their marriage and was swiftly on the hunt for young teen girls after Sharon and their unborn son's death.  While Tate reportedly wanted a traditional marriage, Polanski remained somewhat promiscuous and described Tate's attitude to his infidelity as "Sharon's big hang-up". He reminded her that she had promised that she would not try to change him, and she tried to accept it. Peter Evans quoted Tate as saying, "We have a good arrangement. Roman lies to me and I pretend to believe him."  Polanski is even mentioned in the Pam Miller Des Barres bio I'm with the Band as having tried to bed a teenage Pam during his marriage to Tate, harassing Pam with constant phone calls, but he severely creeped Pam out so she completely avoided his advances.

Its so eerie to watch these videos of Sharon with husband Roman on Hugh Hefner's Playboy hour After Dark.  For those unfamiliar with the story, Tate, 9 months pregnant at the time of her death, was one of the victims in the 1969 Charles Manson Cult murders.  She was entertaining guests in her Benedict Canyon home, previously owned by friends Terry Melcher and Candice Bergen, which Sharon and Roman called their 'love house'.   They regularly entertained odd groups of friends and hangers-on at their parties, and maintained an open-door policy with friends and strangers alike visiting their home at all hours.  Close friends often said they were too trusting to the point of recklessness.

On this night, in particular,  she had brought actress friends Joanna Pettet and Barbara Lewis over for lunch, confiding that Polanski was taking a long time to return home from London.  Tate was 2 weeks away from her due date and Roman was schedule to arrive back from overseas film production at any minute to prepare for the birth with her.  Polanski telephoned that evening to chat, as did Tate's little sister to ask if she and their other sister Patti could come over that night to sleep over.  For some reason, Sharon said no they couldn't sleep over that night.  Instead, she went to dinner with famous hairstylist Jay Seybring and two others, returning back to her home at 10:30 PM to chat.  That infamous night, Manson encouraged his followers to sacrifice someone, to prove their loyalty to the cult.  Although Manson did not personally enter Tate's home or cause physical harm, he was later charged with his role in influencing his followers to murder.     

The wealthy of Los Angeles were in panic and the tabloids were a-buzz post-murders. The timing of Polanski's epic psychological/supernatural horror film Rosemary's Baby, having recently arrived in theatres, made many speculate about an occult force rising up against the anti-Satanist themes of the film by slaying Polanski's wife.  Eeriely enough, Sharon actually did a film not long before her death called Eye of the Devil that had similar occult themes of blood sacrifice and Satanism.   The New York Times called Tate's performance in this film "chillingly beautiful, but expressionless".  

To those intrigued, I highly recommend the film Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired sometimes available on Netflix instant.  Its a complex and fascinating documentary of layers, twists, and turns in the dark labyrinth of Roman Polanski's story-- from his marriage to Sharon Tate, to his trials, to his troubled childhood, to his post-trials lifestyle on the run.   


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