His name was legend and, as we know, all legends must end. Famed cult leader Charles Manson died in California State Prison of natural causes on Sunday (November 19) after being imprisoned for 45 years on several counts of first-degree murder. Manson was 83.
Manson's notoriety grew to unimaginable heights in 1969 when members of the Manson Family, a flock of his crazed followers, brutally murdered actress Sharon Tate and four guests at her home on 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles. Tate, who had starred in such films as Eye of the Devil and The Wrecking Crew, was both eight-and-a-half months pregnant and without her husband Roman Polanski—as the filmmaker was working in Europe—when the murders took place.
A two-day killing spree between August 9 and 10, 1969 was birthed from Manson's twisted take on lyrics heard in the the Beatles' "Helter Skelter" from The White Album, which he interpreted as the foretelling of an apocalyptic race war.
In The Beatles Anthology documentary, Paul McCartney—sole writer of the record—discussed Manson's unhealthy obsession with the subliminal messaging of their music: "Charles Manson interpreted that 'Helter Skelter' was something to do with the four horsemen of the Apocalypse." McCartney would continue, "I still don't know what all that stuff is; it's from the Bible, Revelation—I haven't read it so I wouldn't know. But he interpreted the whole thing—that we were the four horsemen, 'Helter Skelter' was the song—and arrived at having to go out and kill everyone."
In April 1971, Manson would be convicted on seven counts of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. By December of that year, Manson would also be convicted on two counts of first-degree murder for the killing deaths of musician Gary Hinman and stunt actor Donald "Shorty" Shea.
Manson and his Family had gone on to become media sensations for their perceived antics, including carving x's into their foreheads—with Manson's later becoming a swastika—and their nightmarish, dark nature that had never been seen in American pop culture.
More recently, the exploits of Charles Manson and his following have been said to be subject of focus in Quentin Tarantino's untitled ninth film that will be set in 1969 Los Angeles. Suicide Squad actress Margot Robbie has been linked to the role of Tate while Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, have also been rumored for the project.