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For decades in the media, George Spahn has been portrayed as an elderly ranch owner who gave Charles Manson and his followers a place to stay in exchange for sexual favors from the women in the group. In Quentin Tarantino’s new film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Lynnette “Squeaky” Fromme is portrayed as having a cringe-worthy sexual relationship with the several-decades-older Spahn.
But did some of the women in the Manson Family really have sex with Spahn?
It depends on who you ask.
Windy Bucklee, who once worked at the Spahn ranch, told The Daily Beast in 2017 that Spahn regularly benefited from the free love atmosphere at the ranch.
“The girls were spending the night two and three at a time with George,” she said.
However, Fromme, who was often tasked with helping to care for the blind octogenarian, told producers of the Oxygen documentary “Manson: The Women” there was nothing “lecherous” about their relationship.
“Some of the people that lived on the ranch did think that I had something going with George Spahn,” she said, but added that is because she believes people often want to associate “love” and “friendship” with “sex.”
Fromme said she did love Spahn, but compared him to her grandfather.
“I loved getting to know George because I love my grandfather and I never got to know him,” she said.
Fromme has been described by other women who lived at the ranch of somewhat of a house manager on the ranch—often staying in the front house where Spahn lived.
“I saw pretty early on that she was kind of a manager type,” Catherine “Gypsy” Share told Oxygen.
Fromme took joy in trying to anticipate Spahn’s needs and the needs of others employed at the ranch.
“If they were unhappy about something and we could do something about it, we could be helpful,” she said.
But while Fromme was often the woman who had the closest ties with Spahn, she wasn’t the only woman to care for elderly ranch owner. In an interview with Tin House one former Manson follower referred to as “Juanita” recalled helping care for the “sweet” 86-year-old.
“All of us lived there for free and ran the place for him, because George was blind and eighty-six years old,” she said. “We cooked for him, and we washed his clothes, and we gave him back rubs and we told him how wonderful he was.”
Juanita also claimed to have given Manson all her money shortly after joining the family, some of which was used to later pay back taxes Spahn reportedly owed on the property.
Spahn had bought the ranch, which had once served as the backdrop for Hollywood Westerns, in 1953, leaving his wife and 11 children behind, according to Curbed LA.
Share also told “Manson: The Women” she remembers caring for the elderly Spahn.
“I like cooking, and I could take care of George very easily because I was used to taking care of a blind step-father,” she said.
Everyone understood, she said, that they would have to work to help take care of the ranch so that they’d be able to continue to live there.
The idyllic life on the horse ranch would come to an end in the summer of 1969, when some of Manson’s followers savagely murdered pregnant actress Sharon Tate and three others at her home off Cielo Drive. The following night, the rampage continued with the murders of Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary.
Authorities would later arrest many of the family members after suspecting the group was stealing cars to create dune buggies. They’d later link some members of the family to the murders—after follower Susan Atkins bragged about the crimes to her cellmates.
But while the innocence of the ranch may have been lost, even after the arrests, Spahn continued to allow Manson followers to live there, including Fromme, according to Curbed LA.
Spahn would eventually leave the ranch to return to his long-forgotten wife after a wildfire reached the ranch in Sept. 1970 and the remaining members of Manson’s family would go their own way—some even later landing in prison for other crimes.
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