Racial supremacist and convicted mass murderer championed for antiestablishment shock value by everyone from Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor to newslady Diane Sawyer. The towering figure in serial killer chic, Charles Manson is the subject of the all-time best-selling true-crime book Helter Skelter (1974).
A symbol of the curdled ’60s, Manson was the five-foot, two-inch ex-con founder and leader of the Family, an L.A. acid and orgy commune that ended when, the week of Woodstock in August 1969, a group of his white middle-class followers sneaked into director Roman Polanski’s home and fatally stabbed Sharon Tate, his eight-months-pregnant actress wife, and four of her guests.
The counterculture rhetoric of Manson and his youthful followers during the trial confirmed the country’s worse fears about hippies, with one defendant shouting “Your children will turn against you” as her guilty verdict was read.
Found guilty of ordering the murders (seven in all), Manson… Continue reading