Cult leader Charles Manson, who orchestrated several murders in the late '60s, died on Sunday of natural causes. He was 83 years old. In his long life, spent mostly in prison, he was responsible for some of the most gruesome crimes of the 20th century — along with strange connections to the biggest pop culture names of the '60s, such as The Beatles, The Beach Boys and director Roman Polanski, whose wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by Manson's followers.
Here are 22 facts about Manson you may not have known.
1. Manson was born to a teenage girl named Kathleen Maddox and was initially named “no name Maddox.” He later became Charles Maddox, and then Charles Manson after his mother married a man named William Eugene Manson.
2. Even as a young teen, Manson was a frequent juvenile delinquent for crimes such as stealing cars, burglarizing stores, and robbing fill stations.
3. He was deeply influenced by Dale Carnegie’s book "How To Win Friends and Influence People" and used its techniques to manipulate people.
4. Once, after he was imprisoned for stealing a car, he tried to escape prison — by stealing a different car. This happened less than two weeks before his parole hearing.
5. He requested not to leave the Federal Correctional Institution Terminal Island because he told officials that it had come to feel like his home.
6. At the age of 32, he had spent more than half his life in prisons and other institutions.
7. He learned to play the steel guitar in prison and wanted to be a musician.
8. He met the first member of the Manson Family, Mary Brunner, just a few weeks after being released from prison. They soon became lovers and Manson convinced Brunner to let her bring other women into the relationship. Soon 18 women were living with the couple.
9. Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys once picked up two hitchhiking Manson women and let them stay at his house for a few hours. He left for a recording session, came back, and found Charles Manson and over 10 members of the Family crashing there. The Family stayed there for several months, costing him about $100,000.
10. The Beach Boys song “Never Learn Not To Love” was co-written by Charles Manson. Dennis Wilson had been a friend of Manson’s at the time and promised Manson that the group would record his song “Cease to Exist,” as long as he didn’t change the lyrics. When Wilson did change the lyrics, Manson threatened to kill him.
11. After Wilson evicted the Family, they moved into the Spahn Movie Ranch rent free, in exchange for labor. The ranch had been used in Western TV shows like "Zorro," "The Lone Ranger" and "Bonanza."
12. The actor Al Lewis, who played Grandpa on the Munsters, was friends with Manson and let him babysit his kids on several occasions.
13. Manson told his followers that the White Album was written for the Family about an impending race war, which he called “Helter Skelter” — and that they needed to create a response album to trigger that war.
14. Manson visited the house of actress Sharon Tate and her husband, the director Roman Polanski, a few months before Tate’s murder. A photographer talked to Manson on behalf of Tate, who called Manson “that creepy-looking guy.”
15. When Manson finally ordered his followers to kill people, he did it with the instructions to make the killings look like the work of Black Panthers, in order to trigger a racial panic. When Gary Hinman was murdered in July 1969, his followers wrote “political piggy” and a panther paw on Hinman’s wall using his blood.
16. Little over a week later, the Family was directed to kill the occupants of the Tate-Polanski house in the same way, writing “pig” using Tate’s blood on the door of house. Tate was eight months pregnant at the time of her death. Four other people were murdered at the Tate home that night. Though Manson didn’t commit the murders himself, he returned home to rearrange the crime scene for maximum, gruesome impact.
17. Polanski was in London working on a film at the time. When he released Macbeth a year after the Tate murders, a production designer complained he was using too much blood in violence scenes. Polanski replied “I know violence. You should’ve seen my house last summer.”
18. A day after the Tate murders, Manson directed his followers to enter the house of supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary, and to kill them both. Rosemary was stabbed a total of 41 times, after she fought off her attackers with the lamp they had tied around her neck.
19. Today, Jeff Franklin, the creator of Full House, lives on the former Tate-Polanski property.
20. Manson carved an X onto his forehead during the murder trial to say that he had removed himself from society. His followers did the same. Later, Manson turned this into a swastika.
21. The female defendants in the Manson trial tried to confess to the murders so that they’d be convicted instead of Manson. The prosecution claimed that this idea had been planted in their heads by Charles Manson himself.
22. Manson told his followers that he would put on a “Crazy Charlie” act if captured to convince law enforcement that he was insane. Many of them claim that’s what he’s still doing today.
[Photo: Getty Images]