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Sharon Tate’s legacy has long been tied to the gruesome tragedy that was her death. It’s now been more than 50 years since the shocking Manson Cult killings and her passing. Here, we remember the actress and the life that she lead in photos.
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Born a Beauty Queen
Sharon Tate was born in Dallas, Texas in 1943. At just six months old, the future star was named Miss Tiny Tot.
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Born into a military family, Tate spent most of her childhood moving from city to city. “We were always traveling, often into a different country, and that makes it hard on keeping friends,” Tate’s sister Debra Tate told The New York Times.
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Introduction to Film
While in high school in the late 1950s, Tate’s family was stationed in Italy, where she began to work as a film extra and fell in love with acting.
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Working as a Model
After Tate’s family returned to the United States, she found work as a fashion model in 1960 while she pursued her acting career.
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A Move to Hollywood
Tate eventually moved to Hollywood to pursue acting. In 1962, she caught her big break and signed a seven-year contract with director Martin Ransohoff at Filmways Inc.
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Tate began auditioning for roles on various television shows. Here she is posing (far right) with the early cast of Petticoat Junction in 1963. Tate auditioned for the role of Billie Jo, but was not hired.
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By the mid-sixties, the actress was successful on TV, booking guest spots on sitcoms like Mr. Ed and a reoccurring role on Beverly Hillbillies.
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After her successful run on television, director Martin Ransohoff felt she was ready to take on film.
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A Rocky Relationship
During this time, Tate and French actor, Philippe Forquet, got engaged in 1963. However the two had a tumultuous relationship and broke off their engagement the following year.
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Return to TV
On the brink of a blossoming film career, Tate returned to television for a guest appearance on the hit show, Man from U.N.C.L.E. starring David McCallum. in 1965.
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A Big Break
Tate landed her first film, Eye of the Devil, in 1965. She starred alongside child star Suky Appleby and David Niven.
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A Stunted Romance
Tate began dating celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring in 1964. The two had a solid relationship, but decided to part ways in 1965, remaining good friends. (Jay Sebrig was among one of the Manson Cult killing victims.)
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The “It” Girl
Throughout the 1960s, Tate became one of Hollywood’s brightest starlets, appearing in fashion shoots and on magazine covers as a celebrated “it” girl.
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The post-production of Eye of the Evil took a long time. Even though filming wrapped in 1966, the film didn’t premiere until 1967, delaying Tate’s ascension to stardom.
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A Missed Opportunity
In her early film career, Tate auditioned for Liesl in The Sound of Music in 1965—but Charmian Carr was cast instead.
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An Iconic Look
The actress was also known for her signature look of bold false eyelashes and blonde bangs—a look that soon became the aesthetic of the era.
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Beautiful, Inside and Out
Tate was beloved by many for her kind nature. “She was so sweet and so kind, intelligent, and lighter than the air in every way,” Tate’s sister, Debra Tate told Vanity Fair.
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After wrapping Eye of the Devil, Tate signed on to to play the inn keeper’s daughter in the 1966 film The Fearless Vampire Killers on one condition: she could wear a red wig.
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Falling in Love
The young actress and up-and-coming director, Roman Polanski, began dating in 1966 after meeting on the set of The Fearless Vampire Killers. Here, Tate accompanies Polanski to the premiere of his 1966 film Cul de Sac.
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The Year of Sharon Tate
Playboy magazine proclaimed that 1967 was the year of Sharon Tate, as the highly anticipated film star’s fame exploded.
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A Film Debut
Although the 1967 film Don’t Make Waves was technically Tate’s third major film shoot, it was the first of her projects to appear in theaters.
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Working With A-Listers
The budding starlet starred alongside Tony Curtis, who played Carlo Cofield, in Don’t Make Waves.
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Tate’s character in Don’t Make Waves, Malibu, was intended to capitalize on 1960s beach culture and served as inspiration for the Malibu Barbie Doll.
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Posing for ‘Esquire’
While living in New York City with Polanski in 1967, Tate posed for Esquire in photos that would become highly publicized and regarded in pop culture.
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The Biggest Role Yet
Tate starred alongside Barbara Parkins and Patty Duke in the 1967 film adaptation of Valley of the Dolls.
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A Tragic Character
In Valley of the Dolls, Tate portrayed Jennifer North, a beautiful Hollywood actress who ends up committing suicide.
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Tate on Set
Tate is seen discussing a scene with director Mark Robson while filming her biggest—and by far most controversial—role as Jennifer North in Valley of the Dolls.
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Plenty of Premieres
After long post-productions, both Fearless Vampire Killers and Eye of the Devil were set to release in 1967, making Tate the star of four major films in one year.
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Tate’s role as Jennifer North in Valley of the Dolls, is easily her most notable and earned her a Golden Globe nomination in 1967.
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Polanski and Tate got engaged in 1967. Tate’s sister, Debbie Tate, said the actress was “head over heels in love” with Polanski in an interview with The New York Times in 2018.
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