Charles Manson May Seem Larger Than Life, But In Reality He Was Anything But

Charles Manson probably would not have seemed like an intimidating man at first glance.

By Gina Tron
Digital Original
Former Profiler John Douglas On His First Interview With Charles Manson

Cult leader Charles Manson continues to loom over United States history after inciting his followers to commit brutal and horrific murders in 1969. His long mane of hair, his crazed eyes, and the red X (eventually turned into a swastika) sliced into his forehead are seared into the national consciousness, a physical representation of American evil. But while Manson was by all accounts a terrifying man with a larger than life personality, was he actually large in real life?

Turns out, no. Not really. He wasn’t even average sized. The average American male stands at about five feet nine inches while the average woman is about five foot four, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Manson was shorter than both.

In fact, he was only five foot two, as Jeff Guinn, author of “Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson,” told National Public Radio in an interview conducted after Manson’s death.

Guinn called Manson a “tiny man” in that interview.

Charles Manson

The tiny man had a big influence, though: He became America’s most famous cult leader as the head of the Manson Family. He, along with his mostly female followers, were behind a series of murders in California, including the brutal killing of pregnant actress Sharon Tate. "Manson: The Women," airing Saturday, Aug. 10 at 7 p.m. ET/ PT on Oxygen take a fresh look at Manson and the thrall in which he kept women under. 

Manson's small stature was referenced in the newest “Mindhunter” trailer, the second one that the show has released teasing its second season.

The show is based on the work of former FBI unit chief and profiler John Douglas. Holden Ford, a character based on Douglas, interviews killers to try to understand their mindset and see if it can provide useful insight for other cases. In the first season, Ford got familiar with serial killer Ed Kemper, while the second season will reportedly feature multiple killers and criminals, including Manson.

The trailer makes it clear that Ford really wants to meet Manson. 

The character based on Kemper has one warning for Ford if he gets to meet Manson, as revealed in the new trailer: “Manson is small, like, really small. Try not to stare.” As he delivers the warning, he puts his hand up to his belly.

In real life, Kemper stood at six foot nine.

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