The night of August 8-9, 1969 was recorded in Hollywood history for a series of crimes devised by Charles Manson and his sect, The Family.. The events occurred in a Beverly Hills mansion located at 10050 Cielo Drive where actress Sharon Tate, wife of film director Roman Polanski, and six other victims were murdered in cold blood. Tate was eight and a half months pregnant. It was a macabre, unforgettable night that is portrayed again from time to time in series, movies, and documentaries. It was the night of the break for a community, that of Hollywood, which lived or believed it lived in a dream world.
Today it was learned that Linda Kasabian, a member of the sect led by Manson, has died at the age of 73. That horrific night, Kasabian acted as a “bell” when the so-called “Manson family” murdered Tate and her company. She was waiting in the car, to give notice if something happened. But then, during the cult members’ trial, Kasabian was a witness for the prosecution and reached an immunity agreement. Manson and four of his followers were jailed after the trial. She instead changed her last name to Chiochios to protect her identity. The TMZ news site revealed that Kasabian died on January 21 at a hospital in Tacoma, Washington state, at the age of 73, citing her death certificate. The news just came out today.
In a marvelous chronicle, the great American journalist Joan Didion recounts not only that time, but also the time that after interviewing her, Kasabian asked her to buy her a dress to take the stand and testify against Mason and the Family. A size nine small, she had told me. Mini but not overly mini. Velvet if possible. Golden or emerald green. Or: a Mexican peasant-style dress, with a wide skirt and embroidery ». These were the indications that Joan Didion received from Linda Kasabian, the key witness. The second option was the winner. The chronicler was in charge of buying the dress with which Kasabian took the stand as a key witness in the trial for the murders of Sharon Tate Polanski, Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring, Voytek Frykosky, Steven Parent and Rosemary and Leno LaBianca.
Didion tells it in the book “Those who dream the Golden Dream”, where he also says that this event, the Cielo Drive murder, marked the end of an era: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the sixties They ended with a bang on August 9, 1969, at the exact moment that news of the Cielo Drive murders spread like wildfire throughout the community. That day the tension finally broke out. The paranoia was fulfilled », he wrote. There Didion recounts the afternoons in the summer of 1970 that she spent visiting Kasabian in the Sybil Brand Women’s Prison in Los Angeles. The girl from New Hampshire who dreamed of opening “some kind of boutique that was mixed restaurant and pet store,” the attractive young woman with two floppy pigtails, was the renegade of the Manson family. The one who got immunity despite having been present at the Cielo Drive massacre and the LaBianca crimes (she was driving on one occasion and waited for them in the car on another).
The life of Kasabian, who would confess at trial to having had sexual relations with Manson and that she clung to him because “he had been the only one who told me that he had unfinished business with my father” (in his case it was a problematic relationship with his stepfather ), was made into a series in “Manson’s Lost Girls”, which narrates the universe of women who lived on the La Familia ranch. Young mothers and post-adolescents who allowed themselves to be fascinated by their leader, by drugs, by the alleged free sex that he advocated and by the promise of an idyllic life in communion that turned into a nightmare with false satanic overtones.
That part of Hollywood history, although with a happy ending, is what Quentin Tarantino brought to one of his great films “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, with Brad Pitt, Leonardo Di Caprio and Margot Robbie in the main roles. Mason’s crimes were also portrayed in the unfinished (unfortunately unfinished) series Mindhunter”, and Manson: Portrait of a Murderer, among others.
Kasabian’s testimony at trial
During 18 days of testimony, Kasabian described in graphic detail how the 1969 murders took place under Manson’s direction.
Kasabian testified that Charles “Tex” Watson took her, Patricia Krenwinkel and Susan Atkins to the home of filmmaker Roman Polanski in Benedict Canyon. She testified that Tex, Krenwinkel, and Atkins fatally shot and stabbed 5 victims, including Polanski’s pregnant wife, Sharon Tate. Kasabian testified that he witnessed the bloodshed, but never physically hurt anyone.
Polanski was working on a film in Europe at the time his wife and unborn child were murdered.
In addition, Kasabian testified that she was the driver on the second night of the Manson murders, in which Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were massacred inside their Los Angeles home. In the end, Kasabian’s crucial testimony sealed the fate of Manson and his accomplices, who were convicted of the murders and sentenced to life in prison.
Manson died in prison at age 83 after going into cardiac arrest due to complications from colon cancer in 2017.