Weeping Polanski Denies Slain Wife Used Narcotics
Tuesday, August 19th, 1969
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 19 – Film director Roman Polanski today had paid a dramatic, tearful tribute to his wife, slain actress Sharon Tate, denying she used narcotics and describing her as a vulnerable woman who “couldn’t refuse any friendship.”
In his first public appearance since the slaying of the 26-year-old star of the movie “The Valley of the Dolls,” Polanski told reporters his marriage to the actress brought him his “only true happiness.”
Miss Tate and four other persons were stabbed and shot to death last Aug.9.
The Polish-born film maker said his wife’s pregnancy was her “greatest picture.”
Miss Tate had been scheduled to give birth to a son in about a month when she and the others were slain in a vicious unsolved massacre at her Benedict Canyon home.
Her husband’s dramatic unfolding of the couple’s relationship did not cast any light upon why his beautiful wife and the others were slain.
He refused to answer questions of the more than 50 newsmen gathered at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, explaining he had decided to make a public statement because the memory of his wife was being distorted by news accounts of the murders.
Polanski who was in London at the time of the killings, charged newsmen “for selfish reasons” wrote “horrible things” about his wife and their relationship.
At one point during his statement, the 26-year-old Polanski turned away from the microphone when he could not control his sobs.
“You all know how beautiful she was,” said the diminutive director of his wife.
“Only few of you know how good she was,” Polanski said, adding his wife was “vulnerable” and “couldn’t refuse any friendship.”
Polanski, who during most of his meeting with newsmen stood with both hands jammed into the pockets of his gray suit, again broke down as he said:
“There was always Sharon and the dogs and friends waiting for me when I was coming back from the studio.”
The director criticized news reports that his separations with Miss Tate were a forewarning of an end of their year-and-a-half old marriage. He described the separations, due to movie commitments they both had in different parts of the world, as “agonizing.”
He said he and his wife had always tried to dismiss rumors “with laughter and with silly jokes.”
Polanski spoke at length of his wife’s pregnancy and said if anyone would visit the rented estate where she was murdered they would fine “innumerable books on natural birth…baby clothes..see the room she was painting for the child.”
Polanski’s statement dealt mostly with his personal tribute to his dead wife.
He said a lot of news reports had dealt with discussions of drugs.
“Sharon didn’t use drugs, she didn’t drink alcohol, she didn’t smoke cigarettes,” Polanski insisted.
However, he claimed two other murder victims, 37-year-old Voityck Frokowski and 35-year-old hair stylist Jay Sebring “smoked marijuana.”
Polanski denied there was a party at the estate the night of the murders.
Polanski said he had talked by telephone with his wife “a few hours before the tragedy happened” and she told him “a little kitten came from the hills and they were trying to feed it with an eyedropper. There was no indication of a party.”
He said police found “a few glasses, maybe six, used — does that look like a party?”
Although Polanski’s criticism of the news coverage of the murders was harsh, he had only praise for the Los Angeles Police Dept.
He said “the people who we know as ‘fuzz’ were most understanding…they were really very, very good to me.”
No questions and answers were allowed after Polanski finished his statement, but he made mention of a news report that he had sold exclusive pictures of the home to Life magazine.
“I don’t think I have to comment on it,” he said as he bowed his head. He previously had denied the report.
A spokesman for Life magazine in Los Angeles, meanwhile, announced that the magazine’s Aug. 29 issue, out next Monday, would carry “exclusive” photographs inside and outside the Polanski estate.
However, the spokesman said “Life did not buy” the photographs from the film director and “did not have any contractual agreement” with Polanski for the pictures.
The spokesman said the photographs were taken by Life magazine photographer Julian Wasser on assignment during Polanski’s first visit to the home after returning from London following the murders.
Besides Frokowski and Sebring, Polanski also spoke of another murder victim, 26-year-old coffee heiress Abigail Folger.
He said Frokowski and Miss Folger met in New York City some time ago and came to Los Angeles together.
Polanski said Frokowski was a “very kind human being who wanted a success, who had little talent.”
He said Frokowski had worked for him in Poland “as a production manager.”
Polanski said when he and Miss Tate went to Europe four months ago they decided to let Frokowski stay at the house and care for their dogs.
Polanski explained Miss Tate had made a movie in Rome and then went to London for a film he was directing.
“By that time she was six months pregnant. I put her on the boat, the Queen Elizabeth Second, and that’s the last time I saw her.”
The director said he called his wife often while he was in London and she was in Bel Air and “my telephone bill is reaching astronomical figures.”
Polanski said he had expected to return to California shortly before his birthday
— which was Monday — and Miss Tate had said he was going to attend natural child birth classes with her.
“I don’t know too much about it,” said Polanski as tears ran down his cheeks, “but she said I had to go” to the classes.
The child would have been the couple’s first.
Polanski said police had shown him pictures of many persons who had visited the home recently, but he explained most were friends of Frowkowski and he only recognized one.
However, he declined to name the man, saying he had come to a housewarming at the estate and was “thrown out” because he “wasn’t invited — he was bothering people.”
The director spoke about 20 minutes and abruptly ended his statement by telling newsmen, “I hope you’ll treat me kindly.”
He said he was “leaving Los Angeles now” and had decided only Monday night to speak to reporters.
The decision, he said, was against the advice of friends.
Polanski did not mention the fourth murder victim, Steven Parent 18, of El Monte, also shot to death at the home on Cielo Drive.
Police were apparently back where they started in their investigation after releasing a 27-year-old man they had been seeking for questioning.
He was Thomas Michael Harrigan, who voluntarily went to police headquarters. He apparently cleared three other acquaintances whom he placed out of the state at the time of the slayings
By SANDI METTETAL