Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sharon Tate

Sharon Tate, made her first on screen test in 1964 for Sam Peckinpah, opposite Steve McQueen, in the film, The Cincinnati Kid. Tate's timidity and lack of experience caused her to loose the part to Tuesday Weld.

She went on to gain experience with small television performances and auditioned unsuccessfully for the role of Liesl in the film, The Sound of Music. Although, Ransohoff did gave Tate walk-on roles in: The Americanization of Emily and The Sandpiper.

In 1965, Ransohoff gave Tate her first major role in the film, Eye of the Devil, co-starring David Niven, Deborah Kerr, Donald Pleasence, and David Hemmings. As part of Ransohoff's promotion of Tate, he filmed a short documentary called All Eyes on Sharon Tate, to be released at the same time as Eye of the Devil.

In the film, Eye of the Devil, Tate played Odile, a witch who has power over a landowner, played by Niven, and his wife, played by Kerr. Tate's performance was considered crucial to the film. Niven called Tate a "great discovery", and Kerr also thought, Tate would be a "great success". Much of the filming took place in France and after filming Tate, stayed in London, where she became interested in the fashion world and nightclubs. Around this time she met Roman Polanski.

While Polanski was in the planning stages of making the film, The Fearless Vampire Killers, which was being co-produced by Ransohoff, he wanted Jill St. John for the female lead. Ransohoff insisted that Polanski cast Tate, and after meeting with her, he agreed on the condition that she wore a red wig for the movie. Polanski also played one of the main characters, a young man who is interested in Tate's character and begins a romance with her. They began a relationship, and Tate moved into Polanski's London apartment after filming ended.

Tate returned to Hollywood to film, Don't Make Waves with Tony Curtis. Tate played the part of Malibu, which was believed to be the inspiration for the popular "Malibu Barbie" doll. The film was also intended to become one of "beach movies". A advertising campaign by Coppertone featured Tate, ran at the same time..

Polanski was contracted by the head of Paramount Pictures, Robert Evans, to direct and write the screenplay for Rosemary's Baby. Polanski wanted Tate to star in the film and had hoped that someone would suggest her, but he was not comfortable to make the suggestion himself and Mia Farrow was cast. Tate appeared uncredited as a guest in a party scene.

A March 1967 article about Tate in Playboy magazine began, "This is the year that Sharon Tate happens..." and included six photographs taken by Roman Polanski during filming of, The Fearless Vampire Killers. Also that year she had been signed to play a major role in the film, Valley of the Dolls. She admitted to Polanski that she did not like the book or the script.

Patty Duke, Barbara Parkins and Judy Garland were cast. Susan Hayward replaced Garland a few weeks later. Director Mark Robson was very critical of the three principal actresses but, according to Duke, directed most of his criticism at Tate.

Tate, Duke and Parkins developed a close friendship which continued after the completion of the film. During the shooting of Valley of the Dolls, Tate confided to Parkins that she was "madly in love" with Polanski. She frequently commented on her admiration for Lee Grant, with whom she had played several dramatic scenes.

When asked about her acting ambitions she said, "I don't fool myself. I can't see myself doing Shakespeare." In other interviews she said she wanted to become "a light comedienne in the Carole Lombard style". She talked about two contemporary actress that she was influenced by: Faye Dunaway and Catherine Deneuve.


  1. i just watched a biography on her the other day. What a beautiful and talented woman. It's just a shame her name will forever be synonymous with the Manson family :(

  2. Awesome post Dawn. It's tragic what happened to her. She was on her way to becoming one of the biggest film stars I believe. At least we have some of her work to look back on now. Curious what made you choose Sharon as a topic for a post? Whatever the reason thanks for doing it.

  3. Mrs. M and Monty, I almost did not write this post on Sharon Tate. But, then I thought, Sharon did nothing wrong.. She still should be recognized for her acting talents. I agree Sharon was on her way to being a great actress.

  4. Thank you for this nice post...there is a distant family connection (my niece and nephew are 1st cousins of Sharon's nieces and nephew) and I enjoyed learning more from a post that focuses on her developing career rather than "the bad stuff."

    Best wishes,

  5. Thank you Laura. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)


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