She Found Sharon Tate’s body

H. Allegra Lansing
12 min readAug 9, 2020

51 years ago today…

A July 1969 photograph of Sharon Tate is one of the last formal photographs taken of the pregnant actress, in London. She is pictured with gifts for her baby of clothing. She was expecting a boy just a month after her tragic murder. IMAGE RIGHTS: TERRY O’NEILL.

American actress Sharon Tate and Polish film director Roman Polanski met in 1966 on the London set of the movie “The Fearless Vampire Killers”. It was not love at first sight (Sharon was seriously dating men’s hairstylist Jay Sebring and Polanski was a divorcee, playing the field and didn’t think much of his leading lady’s acting abilities) but after they spent a weekend together at a hotel, dropping acid and having sex, they soon fell deeply in love.

They were married January 1968 in Chelsea, London and then promptly moved to Los Angeles. They stayed for several months at the famed Chateau Marmont and then moved to a home on Summitridge Drive, owned by Sharon’s “Valley of the Dolls” co-star, Patty Duke.

It was while at the Summit Drive home that Sharon and Roman met Winifred Chapman.

Mrs. Chapman (who we believe was either divorced or widowed) was a 54-year old African American woman from the greater Los Angeles area. She considered herself as a “light housekeeper” which according to later testimony meant cooking and generally keeping the house in order (tidying up, emptying ashtrays, bringing glasses in from the pool area, sweeping and dusting, mopping floors, cleaning doors and windows. She did not consider herself a maid because she didn’t do what she called “heavy housekeeping.”

Winifred Chapman was living at 1163 E. 46t Street in Los Angeles. She rented a 300-square foot tiny flat in a 20-unit apartment building in the Central Alameda neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Winifred Chapman’s apartment was in this building, current view via Google Maps

Apparently, Ms. Chapman’s cooking and housekeeping were enjoyable enough that when Roman and Sharon planned to move out of Duke’s Summitridge home, they asked Winifred to come work for them.

Winifred agreed, and left Patty Duke’s employ to become a full-time housekeeper for the Polanski’s at their new rented house, 10050 Cielo Drive.

Sharon and Roman had just learned that she was expecting their first child. Roman was against having children — as a Holocaust survivor (he lost his mother in the gas chambers at Auschwitz and was separated from his…