Charles Manson Biography

Name at birth: Charles Milles Manson

Charles Manson was the most notorious mass murderer of the 1960s. A would-be musician and charismatic petty criminal, Charles Manson found his way to San Francisco when the 1960s drug culture was at its height. He began to collect followers, and by the end of the decade he and several members of his "family" had settled on borrowed land outside of Los Angeles. Believing he was a modern incarnation of Jesus Christ, and figuring he could benefit from a race war in America, Manson convinced several followers to go on a murderous spree in 1969, during which they killed seven people. The most prominent victim was actress Sharon Tate, the wife of film director Roman Polanski. The subsequent murder trial lasted seven months (at that time the longest and most expensive trial in U.S. history), and resulted in guilty verdicts and death sentences for Manson and his followers. (Manson was convicted of planning and encouraging the killings, even if none of them was by his hand.) California outlawed the death penalty in 1972, and Charles Manson was sentenced instead to life in prison. He has remained in California prisons ever since.

Extra credit:

Many biographies list his name at birth as "No Name Maddox," but a copy of his birth certificate shows he was given the name Charles Milles Manson several days after his birth... Charles Manson married the former Rosalie Willis, a waitress, in 1955. They had one son, Charles Jr., and were divorced in 1958... Vincent Bugliosi, the district attorney who prosecuted Manson, wrote a best-selling book about the case titled Helter Skelter... Manson was fascinated with The Beatles and used the title of their song "Helter Skelter" as a name for his expected apocalypse... Charles Manson was played by Steve Railsback in the 1976 film Helter Skelter and by Jeremy Davies in the 2004 TV movie of the same name.

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