Last pictures of heavily pregnant Manson murder victim Sharon Tate4 min read

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A celebrated photographer has spoken of the heartbreak he felt revisiting photos he took of actress just days before she was brutally murdered by a cult.

Celebrity snapper Terry O’Neill spent a day in August 1969 taking photos with Tate, then heavily pregnant with her first child, including some of her unwrapping baby clothes.

Three days later Tate and her friends were murdered at her Hollywood home by a hippy cult led by Charles Manson.

The story of her murder – which shocked the film world to its core – is currently being retold in a new film by Quentin Tarantino which stars Margot Robbie at Hollywood starlet Tate.

Celebrity photographer Terry O'Neill took these snaps of pregnant film star Sharon Tate, wife of film director Roman Polanski, on August 6 1969 - three days before she was murdered

Celebrity photographer Terry O’Neill took these snaps of pregnant film star Sharon Tate, wife of film director Roman Polanski, on August 6 1969 – three days before she was murdered

Tate, heavily pregnant with her first child, was snapped with baby clothes after O'Neill spent the day with her

Tate, heavily pregnant with her first child, was snapped with baby clothes after O’Neill spent the day with her

Celebrity snapper Terry O'Neill spent a day in August 1969 taking photos with Tate, then heavily pregnant with her first child, including some of her unwrapping baby clothes (stock photo)

Celebrity snapper Terry O’Neill spent a day in August 1969 taking photos with Tate, then heavily pregnant with her first child, including some of her unwrapping baby clothes (stock photo)

O’Neill – who had declined an invite to Sharon’s home that evening – recalls he was ‘shocked to the core’ by news of her death, and finds it ‘hard’ to look back at the last photos he took of her.  

‘Fifty years later these are still difficult photos to look at. Sharon was a beautiful young woman. Her ending is one of the most tragic stories of our generation,’ O’Neill told the Sunday Mirror.

‘Sharon was a delight, as lovely as she was beautiful. And she was so excited about becoming a mum.

‘I worked with her a year or so before she was expecting; some really beautiful studio portraits of her. 

‘It’s hard for me to look at these photos, especially, because there’s no way in the world anyone would have predicted what would happen next.’

Sharon Tate opening baby clothes

Sharon Tate looking at baby clothes

Tate had been due to give birth fourteen days after her photography session with O’Neill in London

Sharon Tate (pictured in Eye of the Devil in 1966) was brutally murdered at her home by members of the Manson Family cult

Sharon Tate (pictured in Eye of the Devil in 1966) was brutally murdered at her home by members of the Manson Family cult

Now 80, O’Neill says the time is ‘difficult to talk about’, and that looking at the photo makes him think of ‘what would have been’.

Tate had been due to give birth fourteen days after her photography session with O’Neill in London.

She travelled back to Los Angeles while her husband Roman Polanski remained for a few more days.

The gruesome story is being retold in the new film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The feature is directed by Quentin Tarantino and stars Margot Robbie in the role of Tate

The gruesome story is being retold in the new film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The feature is directed by Quentin Tarantino and stars Margot Robbie in the role of Tate

But on August 9, 1969, four members of the Manson Family broke into the couple’s home where Tate and friends Steven Parent, Jay Sebring, Voytek Frykowski and Abigail Folger had been having dinner.

Charles Manson, a failed musician, had planned an attack on the Beverly Hills home which was previously rented by record producer Terry Melcher, who declined Manson a recording contract.

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Each of the victims were shot and stabbed multiple times.

Charles Manson's hippie group was responsible for the murder of heavily pregnant Hollywood actress Sharon Tate

Charles Manson’s hippie group was responsible for the murder of heavily pregnant Hollywood actress Sharon Tate

It was only later when some of the Mansons were arrested on separate charges that the identity of the groups’ killers was uncovered. 

O’Neill added that the way in which Tate and her friends died ‘shook up not only Hollywood, but the world’.

Distraught from the ordeal, husband Roman Polanski took two years away from the director’s chair, but would eventually return to direct such classics as Chinatown, The Tenant and the Pianist.

His film Tess, released in 1979, is ­dedicated to Sharon.

Tarantino’s film Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, will also star Al Pacino, Damian Lewis and Kurt Russell, and is released in the UK on August 14.

O’Neill has said that he has no plans to watch it, but was happy that Debra Tate (Sharon’s sister) had been involved in the production.