Charles Manson’s Hollywood, Part 1: What We Talk About When We Talk About The Manson Murders / by Karina Longworth


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This season, You Must Remember This will explore the murders committed in the summer of 1969 by followers of Charles Manson, and the Hollywood music and movie scene surrounding the killings. Throughout the series, we’ll learn how a single sociopath’s thwarted dreams of fame and fortune led to the gruesome events which became the symbolic “end of the sixties.” Future episodes will explore the various celebrities, musicians, movie stars and filmmakers (including Roman Polanski, Sharon Tate, The Beach Boys, Dennis Hopper, Doris Day and more) whose paths crossed with Manson’s in meaningful ways, both leading up to the murders and in their aftermath. Today, we’ll talk about what was going on in the show business capital that made Manson seem like a relatively normal guy. Then we'll lay out the basic facts of who was killed, and how, in order to begin to explain how these unthinkable crimes fit in to the tapestry of one of the most tumultuous times in Hollywood history. 


Welcome to our new season! This series will run a total of 11 weeks (I think; I’m still researching and writing) and will touch on topics as disparate as Doris Day and Michaelangelo Antonioni, Pet Sounds and Pink Flamingos. I became interested in these stories about a year ago, when I somehow found myself reading the obituary of Terry Melcher. Melcher had a really full Hollywood life, which we’ll talk about in one of these episodes, but the headline is that he was born to a teenage Doris Day, and 27 years later he became convinced he was the person the Manson family were really looking for the night they massacred everyone at Sharon Tate’s house. I knew Day and Melcher’s stories were enough to fill at least one episode; as I began researching Melcher’s connection to Manson, many, many other Hollywood stories began to emerge. I realized the story of Charles Manson and the murders he is responsible is really (or, also) the story of Hollywood and its mythology draining of hope, and I wanted to tell that story.

This should probably be obvious given the subject matter, but every single episode of this season is going to contain content and language that will probably be offensive to someone. Apologies in advance.


The foundational text of this series is Jeff Guinn’s recent biography Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson, which I read in long stretches late at night when I was supposed to be on vacation. I couldn't put it down to go to sleep, partially because I would have nightmares every time I tried. 

Here are some other books that I read or re-read to prepare myself generally for this season. I’ll make note of additional/specific sources as we go along:

Manson: The Unholy Trail of Charlie and the Family by John Gilmore (This book was previously published as The Garbage People, a much better title, I think) 

Waiting For the Sun: A Rock n’ Roll History of Los Angeles by Barney Hoskyns

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind

Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood by Mark Harris

Weird Scenes Inside The Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & The Dark Heart Of The Hippie Dream by Dave McGowan

Shadows and Light: Journeys with Outlaws in Revolutionary Hollywood by Gary Kent


The Last Ones by Jahzzar

Stormy Moods Orchestra by Apache Tomcat

Scubba Adventure by Apache Tomcat

Alabama Song by The Doors

Alabama Song by Bertolt Brecht

Beware of the Fall by Apache Tomkat

Au coin de la rue by Marco Raaphorst

Private Hurricane (Instrumental) by Josh Woodward

Divider by Chris Zabriskie

Devastation and Revenge by Kevin MacLeod

Helter Skelter by The Beatles