• Polanski On Recovery Road



Polanski On Recovery Road

Dec. 9 – “Roman Polanski is never alone. He needs his friends and we are with him. He is staying with his friends at the beach. We don’t talk about the murders. We don’t bring it up. We cook out on the beach and he reads poetry. This has been a real trial of his faith.”

So said one of Sharon Tate’s husband’s closest professional friends as he told of the slow and painful recovery now being made by a “genius of writer and director in his field.”

Words about his friend didn’t come easily for co-producer Gene Gutowski, 44, who has worked closely with the Polish-born Polanski for the past five years.

“We (Polanski’s close friends) agreed not to talk about him in interviews. However there were so many bad things said…so many distortions — I will say some things to clear things up,” Gutowski said in an exclusive interview at this newspaper’s office.

Asked about reports the long-locked and talented producer had been seen in the company of beautiful women in several Beverly-Hills-Hollywood night spots, Gutowski said, “He (Polanski) is always with people. He is a kind man, sensitive and friendly, who ever hurt anyone. And that’s an unusual trait for a man in his business.

“I can remember when we drove in to London after the murders and my wife, who is a beautiful blonde, kissed him. Someone saw it and right away rumors began. That’s how these rumors started.”

Gutowski was accompanied by Polanski’s attorney, Wallace Wolf. Wolf was asked to describe his role in the breaking of the Tate case.

“I never discussed the case with Mr. Polanski,” Wolf said. “I had no knowledge that it was about to be solved.”

Polanski was described as “relieved” that the investigation has yielded suspects and that it appears justice will be done. His friends were worried about his safety since that fateful night of Aug. 9.

His legal representative termed his reaction to the announcement that Charles Manson and his “hippie family” were involved in the killings this way:

“First of all, he believes the police did a fantastic job. He has the utmost respect for them. Secondly, he is grateful that it seems the case has been solved. It could crush any man to go on living his entire life with such a question being left unanswered. Lastly, it hurt him…that the loss of his beautiful wife and good friends would be for such a reason as that which we read about in the newspapers.”

Gutowski and Polanski had been working together overseas on “Day at the Beach,” which was written by Polanski.

Referring to an interview Gutowski had with columnist Sheilah Graham in London, Gutowski said he wanted to clear something up.

“She remarked that this might become one of those ‘unsolved murders.’ I said that it was entirely possible the police might have a good idea who did it and were collecting evidence.

“This proved to be the case, but I want to emphasize that I had no prior knowledge of the case before the arrests were announced. It was just pure supposition on my part.”

He also disclosed what happened to the 1955 Rolls Royce which was to have been Sharon’s anniversary present. It arrived shortly after her death. The four-seater, the smaller version, is now in storage, up on blocks in a garage, awaiting settlement of the estate.

Since the murders Polanski has traveled in Mexico and the Virgin Islands seeking movie locations and returned to England. He has been in the U.S. for the past 11 weeks and has plugged away at refining his scripts and preparing for the future.

“Yes, he was grasping for anything…any answer right after the murder,” Gutowski said. “That’s why a psychic was allowed to go on the property and so many unfortunate things happened early in the investigation.

“It seems strange that nobody believed what he was trying to say when he held that press conference after Sharon’s death. If you remember he said that he loved his wife, that it was the happiest time in his life and that he had confidence that the police would bring the murderers to justice,” Gutowski said.

It was Attorney Wolf who introduced Polanski that day to the media-packed room in the Beverly Hills hotel.

Both men were asked if Polanski had now counter-reacted to people who looked at him and his wife and friends under a magnifying glass in the hope of finding some internal motive for the mass slaying?

Was he bitter to those who didn’t take him at his word that whatever the cause of the murder, his wife and friends were blameless?

“No, he’s not that kind of man,” said Gutowski. “He blames no one. He doesn’t discuss it. We don’t discuss it with him.”

Will Polanski pull out of what any man of his abilities and career potential might call a tailspin?

“He has what it takes,” his long-time friend answered.

“He was in a concentration camp as a youngster and was rescued from the Germans by his father. During the war he was hidden. He survived that experience and he will eventually survive this one. There are so many people who care for him they won’t let him feel his life has come to an end because of this.”

During the interview Gutowski wore a plaid, stylish mod suit and his hair, though shorter than Polanski’s, is worn in similar fashion. He often spoke of the kind of press coverage the case has received, especially from the “movie magazines.”

“Sharon Tate did not know any of the people police have arrested and she was never on the Spahn Ranch,” Polanski’s legal council said. “We have received retractions from people who reported that story. It just isn’t true.”

What are Polanski’s plans for the future?

“He is a genius in his own right in his field. We are all sure he will continue to produce and direct and write.

“Of course the trial will be a terrible experience to be relived. It will hurt him once more, deeply.”

Gutowski said Polanski’s friends had no idea that the case would turn out as it did. Apparently the paths of the movie set and the mysterious “Jesus” leader of the cult Manson did not cross. When three of the alleged killers were in custody Polanski’s friends were openly relieved.

Gutowski said that several projects Polanski had under negotiation were up in the air right now and he wasn’t particularly concerned at closing any deals. His new office at Warner Bros. does not, Gutowski said, indicate he will be making a picture for Warner Bros. in the near future.

“I’m glad that people who didn’t know him before can now begin to see what kind man Roman Polanski is, Gutowski concluded.


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