Tate was eight months pregnant and married to filmmaker Roman Polanski (Rosemary’s Baby). She lived at 10050 Cielo Drive, where Manson’s music industry associate, Terry Melcher, previously resided. After moving to Hollywood during the early ’60s, Tate gained career momentum upon starring in Don’t Make Waves (1967), Valley of the Dolls (1967), and The Wrecking Crew (1968). Given Polanski’s career accomplishments and Tate’s star power, the couple was popular amongst Hollywood celebrities, including Steve McQueen.
At the time, Manson was regarded as a strange yet talented singer-songwriter. He and several women lived with The Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson for several months in 1968, and were introduced to the aforementioned Melcher, who produced hit singles for The Byrds and Paul Revere & the Raiders. By the summer of ’68, however, Wilson’s manager kicked the Manson group out of the home. Now known as a spiritual guru, Manson took his followers to Spahn Ranch, a once-popular filming location for Hollywood movies and television shows. The property owner, George Spahn, gave the nickname “Tex” to a new arrival, Charles Watson.
By March 1969, Manson first encountered Tate on Cielo Drive and learned that Melcher had moved. By late spring, he began discussing “Helter Skelter” – a plan to incite a race war in Los Angeles. After a drug deal gone wrong, Manson murdered a black man named Bernard Crowe, and later believed him to be a Black Panther.
That same month, Manson Family members killed a UCLA student named Gary Hinman. These events set the tone for “Helter Skelter”, which would theoretically create a racial divide in Los Angeles as the Manson Family remained at Spahn Ranch and prepared for an uprising. Manson wanted to start a revolution.