Sharon Tate‘s brutal murder at the hands of cult leader Charles Manson‘s followers shocked the nation in 1969. Now, 46 years later, a new book is shedding light on another dark chapter in the beautiful actress’ life – her troubled marriage and sex life with acclaimed film director Roman Polanski.
In Sharon Tate: A Life, author Ed Sanders writes that the Valley of the Dolls star’s husband was a dominating force in her life, urging her to fulfill his sexual fantasies by taking drugs and participating in affairs, orgies and home sex videos that he would later play for his friends at parties. The homemade sex tapes included “sadomasochistic-porno movies” that featured “quite a few recognizable Hollywood faces,” the author writes.
“Sharon told me about Roman – about imposed sexual scenes on her,” her friend, photographer Shahrokh Hatami, tells the author. “He was bringing other girls to have threesomes with Sharon, and Sharon didn’t like it that he was picking up girls on the Sunset and bringing them home to have sex with them.”
Tate was reportedly deeply in love with Polanski, who was nine years her senior, but also very intimidated by him.
“When she was out in public with Roman, she never felt adequate enough to open her mouth,” writes the author.
“She could only talk to him alone. Her problem was that she had always been beautiful, and people were forever losing themselves in fantasy over her – electing her a beauty queen, imagining her as a wife, dreaming of a caress. Most people had fantasies. But a few people, like Polanski, took charge.”
From the moment Tate met Polanski until her dying day, the Rosemary’s Baby director “ruled her entire life,” Tate’s friend Joanna Pettet tells the author. “He told her how to dress; he told her what makeup he liked, what he didn’t like. He preferred her with nothing, no makeup.”
There was a least one instance, however, when she defied his wishes.
The director allegedly refused to sleep with Tate after she became pregnant with his baby in 1968, and urged her to get an abortion. When she protested, he left the U.S. for London and had an affair with Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, Sanders writes.
Tate’s photographer friend Hatami tells the author, “Sharon told me the reason [Polanski] went back to live in London was a protest [Sharon said,] ‘I told him that I’m expecting his child, he’s said that he doesn’t want to father a child, and protested.’ But Sharon told him, ‘You can’t do anything, it’s my child. I’m going to keep it.’ ”
The summer after she became pregnant, Polanski “treated her like she was a piece of excess baggage,” writes Sanders. “He was even pointedly cruel to her in front of others at times, calling her ‘a dumb hag’ and criticizing her whenever she expressed an opinion.”
The couple’s baby would never be born. Tate was just two weeks from giving birth when she and four others were savagely killed by members of the Manson Family at her and Polanski’s L.A. home in August 1969.
Polanski was in London when he got the call about his wife’s death. “He literally unraveled in front of my eyes,” his friend Andy Braunsberg, who was there at the time, recalls to the author. “He disintegrated.”