Sharon Tate Biography
Valley of the Dolls
or not Sharon would again be cast in a role that emphasized her beauty. Valley
of the Dolls, the novel by Jacqueline Susann that broke all sales records
and ended up in the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest selling
novel of all time, was being made into a major motion picture. Almost immediately
there was speculation about who would be cast in the leads. Candice Bergen,
Raquel Welch, Ann Margaret and Bette Davis were all considered for parts
in the movie. By the time filming got underway Patty Duke, Barbara Parkins,
Judy Garland and Sharon were cast in the four main female roles. Sharon was
to play Jennifer North, a role that many felt was based in part on both Carole
Landis and Marilyn Monroe.
Sharon would tell Roman that she didn't think much of either the book or
the movie. She felt they were trashy, and that yet again she was not doing
anything artistically worthwhile. However, Sharon was a trooper and went
into filming ready to give it her all in the hopes that she might get noticed
in the highly visible vehicle and earn better roles because of it. It was
not to be an easy shoot though. Judy Garland was promptly let go when she
was unable to make it to the set on time and was replaced by Susan Hayward.
Patty Duke would remember the director, Mark Robson, as a tyrant who particularly
enjoyed humiliating Sharon. Roman Polanski would say later that Robson told
him, "That's a great girl you have there. Few actresses have her kind of
vulnerability. She's got a great future."
The set of Valley of the Dolls was not a happy one. Patty Duke and Barbara
Parkins were said to be jockeying for position, both feeling that this was
an important film for them and could set the tone for the rest of their careers.
According to costar Robert Viharo, Sharon alone was above the bickering.
He described her as "the sweetest, purest, most open spirit." By the time
filming was complete all three stars felt that the movie was unsalvageable.
On November 14th 1967 the completed movie was premiered on a docked cruise
liner The Italia in Venice, Italy. The international press was on board to
see one of the most anticipated films in history. The fears of Duke, Parkins
and Tate were confirmed. The movie had unintentionally became a comedy.
Afterwards Sharon gamely met with the press while some of her costars tried
to avoid them. In later years Valley of the Dolls would come to be considered
a camp classic. It has been remade for television, and stage. There are
conventions and fan clubs. In that way it is the film that Sharon will probably
most be identified with. If the current feelings of her costars, Patty Duke
and Barbara Parkins are any indication Sharon herself would probably have
come to view Valley of the Dolls with bemused affection.
As Sharon was filming Valley of the Dolls Roman was busy making Rosemary's
Baby. Roman had initially wanted Sharon for the main role of Rosemary but
felt it would have been presumptuous to put her forward himself. The role
eventually went to Mia Farrow. Sharon visited Roman often on the set in New
York, and became fast friends with Mia. Roman and Sharon accompanied Mia
and Frank Sinatra to dinner on several occasions and it was on the set of
Rosemary's Baby that Frank Sinatra served Mia with divorce papers. Mia would
remember that Sharon and Roman took her in and made her part of their group
of friends. Of Sharon, Mia would say "She was like a princess in a fairy
tale. As kind as she was beautiful."
one weekend while visiting Roman in New York, Sharon posed for photographs
to appear in the December, 1967 issue of Esquire. Sharon and Esquire had
a long running relationship and she had appeared in the magazine several
times. The producers of Valley of the Dolls felt that this layout would be
important for promoting the film Sharon posed in a black miniskirt with a
rifle on the first page of the layout. It was a very provocative and cutting
edge session and generated a great deal of publicity.
As 1967 ended the first four movies Sharon made, Eye of the Devil, The Fearless
Vampire Killers, Don't Make Waves and Valley of the Dolls had all been released.
1967 was proclaimed by Playboy as the year Sharon Tate happens.
Going to the Chapel
The buildup Ransohoff had been working toward was realized. When all was
said and done only Valley of the Dolls was a commercial success, but Sharon
had garnered favorable reviews for Don't Make Waves and Valley of the Dolls.
The Hollywood Reporter said of Sharon in Valley of the Dolls, "William Daniels'
photographic caress of her faultless face and enormous absorbent eyes is
stunning". In reality Sharon had made a favorable impression on critics and
the movie going public but she had not had a breakthrough role that catapulted
her into super stardom.
Roman and Sharon returned to their home in London and were seen out often
with friends such as Peter Sellers, Warren Beatty, and Mia Farrow. They were
proclaimed by the movie magazines to be the "Groovy couple of the year."
Sharon and Roman's place was the place to be. They managed to mix both old
and new Hollywood in a way that worked. They were candid with the press.
They were interesting and interested. No other couple better represented
chic Hollywood culture at that time than Sharon and Roman.
It was in London in January of 1968 that Roman proposed to
Roman had been hurt in his first marriage and had shied away from commitment
until he met Sharon. He described her as an "angel", the "perfect woman".
Sharon said yes and they set about planning an impromptu wedding in London.
Sharon's costar in Valley of the Dolls, Barbara Parkins, would be her maid
of honor. It was a mod wedding and Sharon and Roman were dressed in the height
of fashion for the time, which was called "rich hippie". Press from London
and around the world covered the wedding, It was considered big news that
such a nontraditional couple as Roman and Sharon would do such a traditional
thing as marry.
Though Sharon was now married to one of the most acclaimed directors of the
era she did not take advantage of her position. When asked if she would like
to do another movie for Roman, Sharon answered "I'd be thrilled to death
to do another Polanski film. But he has to ask me first. I wouldn't ever
dream of asking him for a part."
Sharon was determined to make it on her own and to that end she went to Martin
Ransohoff and asked that he let her out of her exclusive contract. He agreed
with the proviso that she turn over twenty five percent of her earnings for
the next four years. Sharon agreed to those terms feeling it was the only
way that she could begin to look for roles for herself that would best showcase
first choice of films was an action/comedy The Wrecking Crew with Dean Martin.
It was the fourth in a series of Matt Helm special agent pictures. Sharon
would play Freya Carlson, Martin's bumbling alley, posing as his Danish tour
guide. The movie would also star Elke Sommer, Tina Louise and Nancy Kwan.
role gave Sharon a chance to shine for the first time in a fully comedic
role. The Hollywood Reporter took notice saying, "Sharon Tate reveals a pleasant
affinity to scatterbrain comedy and comes as close to walking away with this
picture as she did in a radically different role in Valley of the Dolls."
Again, Sharon would impress the directors of her film by doing her own stunts.
Columbia had hired Bruce Lee to assist Sharon in martial arts for scenes
in the movie. Bruce and Sharon became friends and Sharon brought Bruce to
the home she and Roman were renting from Patty Duke, to teach Roman as well.
It was not unusual for Sharon to make friends with almost everyone on the
sets of her movies. It was a habit she would repeat over and over again.
Dean Martin was very pleased with Sharon's performance in the film and decided
he would do another in the series with Sharon costarring.
Sharon had become very interested in the Presidential campaign of Robert
Kennedy. She went to fund raising dinners in support of Kennedy and on June
3rd 1968 attended a dinner at the home of John Frankenheimer. At the dinner
was Robert Kennedy and his wife Ethel. Sharon was thrilled to be able to
spend some time with Kennedy and felt even more convinced that he would make
a wonderful president. However, the next day Kennedy was assassinated. Sharon
was devastated not only over the death of an incredible man but also for
the loss to the country. During this time Sharon and Roman also attended
fund raisers for the Theater of the Deaf as well as other charities making
sure to give back some of what they had been so richly blessed with.