November 12th is Charles Manson’s birthday–and he’s turning 79 years old today as one of America’s biggest bogeymen. Of course, Charlie is best known for sending his disciples to murder Sharon Tate and her dinner guests on August 9th, 1969. The brutal stabbings would shock the nation. They also started a lot of myths and weird rumors. There’s an awful lot about Charles Manson and his Family that people don’t know—or, worse, get totally wrong.
Of course, there’s a lot to learn about Charles Manson as just a weird pop-culture figure. For starters, though, just the facts: Hippie cult leader Charles Manson ordered his disciples to murder the residents of 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles. Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel , and Charles “Tex” Watson went to the residence with devotee Linda Kasabian—who’d leave the mansion as the others murdered actress Sharon Tate, hairstylist Jay Sebering, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, and Polish actor Wojciech Frykowski. (Tate’s husband, director Roman Polanski, was out of town.)
The next night, Manson had Tex and Patricia—joined by Leslie Van Houten—randomly murder suburbanites Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. The horrifically bloody murders involved words (including “Pigs” and “Helter Skelter”) written on the walls and doors of the residences. (Kasabian was sent out with Atkins for a third murder, but deliberately went to the wrong residence.) The talkative hippies were soon arrested, and the Manson Family became national news.
Over the years, Manson has become a legendary crime figure as the psycho who took inspiration from the Beatles’ White Album and envisioned Helter Skelter as a race war that would change the world. The trial of Manson and his followers was a major sensation as more of Manson’s disciples came to court to support him. Manson also milked the spotlight, and ranted on about his love for mankind. Hippies just didn’t seem the same anymore.
But there’s more to the story. Charles’ cult may be more hipster than hippie nowadays, but a lot of people still don’t know all the feverish facts. Check out some of the weird twists to Mr. Manson’s Wild Ride…