Sharon Tate was a rising star in Hollywood. She was married to Roman Polanski, who she met when he directed her in The Fearless Vampire Killers. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in Valley of the Dolls. She was a 60's symbol of beauty and sexuality. On 9 August 1969, forty years ago next Sunday, she, along with four other people - close friends who were at the house that night while Polanski was away in London - was murdered in her home by the followers of Charles Manson. She was stabbed sixteen times. She was eight and a half months pregnant. Her murder, I think, closed the 60's and brought us the 70's.
I tend to crawl through the internet, picking things up and poking at others, until something explodes in front of me and spiral through link after link until a full picture - sometimes wondrous, other times horrifying - rises up. I knew about the Tate and LaBianca killings and the Manson family's murderous rampage, of course. Who doesn't? But it was only recently, as I was researching a few things for a short story I am writing, that I followed an incredibily convoluted trail of links and the Sharon Tate story opened up to me, and then I spent the evening stunned almost to tears by what I was reading. She was pregnant. She was 26. She was gorgeous. She was lovely and loved. And they destroyed her.
I don't want to treat her as a symbol. I want to preserve her humanity. But if anyone's death symbolizes the senselessness and the injustices that so often torment this mortal shuffle, it may be Sharon Tate's.
In these images she looks nearly immortal. There are crime scene and coroner's photographs on the internet. I found some of them. I won't post them or encourage finding them for yourself. Beauty can be destroyed - viciously, senselessly, and without mercy. It can be left broken. It is the task of the living to preserve the beautiful, however... not to shrink from evil but to stand against it. And so I stand and celebrate beauty.
For those who do not know the story, here is her Wikipedia entry.