Terry O'Neill/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
On Aug. 8, 1969, Sharon Tate was a beautiful, B-movie actress best known for The Fearless Vampire Killers, Valley of the Dolls and a handful of episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies.
On Aug. 9, 1969, Charles Manson turned her into the biggest star in Hollywood.
By a twist of unlucky fate, the 26-year-old starlet became the most famous victim of the so-called "Manson Family" when the deranged yet magnetic cult leader ordered several of his followers to murder any "piggies" they found at 10050 Cielo Drive, a sprawling but isolated property tucked into a hillside in Los Angeles' Benedict Canyon that Tate was renting from talent manager Rudi Altobelli for $1,200 a month along with her husband of a year and a half, Roman Polanski.
Manson, a musician who aspired to worldwide stardom, had been to the house before. The home had previously been occupied by record producer Terry Melcher (Doris Day's son), his girlfriend Candice Bergen, who had put up the Christmas lights that were still decorating a fence on the property that August, and musician Mark Lindsay. Melcher and Manson had some sort of confrontation, and the 34-year-old songwriter, who stood all of 5'2", left with a grudge. Melcher and Tate had spoken on the phone about the lease transfer that previous February, but they had never met in person.
When Manson dispatched Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Charles "Tex" Watson and Linda Kasabian to Cielo Drive that night, it stood to reason he had his beef with Melcher in mind.