Psychotic mass murder mastermind Charles Manson died Sunday evening at the age of 83.
Rather than focus on Manson, we should remember first the victims from his 1969 rampage in the Los Angeles area. They include actress Sharon Tate (who was eight months pregnant), celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring; coffee fortune heiress Abigail Folger; writer Wojciech Frykowski; and Steven Parent, who all died at the home of Roman Polanski on August 9, 1969. The next night, supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, were killed at their home.
Manson died at a Bakersfield hospital in California, Tate’s sister Debra told TMZ after receiving a call from the prison where Manson was located. He had been serving multiple life sentences in Corcoran State Prison in Corcoran, Calif., after being convicted in January 1971 of conspiracy to commit the murders.
Like his followers, or “family,” Hollywood was attracted to Manson on several occasions. Perhaps the most notable onscreen portrayal of him was turned in by Steve Railsback in Helter Skelter, a CBS event telefilm directed by Tom Gries that aired over two nights in April 1976.
Based on the best-selling 1974 book co-written by Los Angeles County assistant district attorney and Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, it was a ratings sensation, attracting an estimated 50 million-plus viewers.
Before the murders, Manson aspired to a career in the L.A. music scene. After learning to play guitar in prison, he became friends with Byrds producer Terry Melcher (the son of actress Doris Day) and Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys, and the fabled group covered one of his songs.
Manson even recorded 13 folksy songs for an album that eventually was titled Lie: The Love and Terror Cult; it was released independently in March 1970 to help pay for his defense during his murder trial.
We will update this breaking story as details become available.