Sharon Marie Tate was an American actress and sex symbol. During the 1960s she played small television roles before appearing in several motion pictures. She also appeared regularly in fashion magazines as a model and cover girl. After receiving positive reviews for her comedic and dramatic performances, Tate was hailed as one of Hollywood's most promising newcomers. She made her film debut in the occult-themed Eye of the Devil, which was produced by Martin Ransohoff. Tate also starred as Jennifer North in the cult classic, Valley of the Dolls, which earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination.
Tate married her director and The Fearless Vampire Killers co-star, Roman Polanski, in 1968 in London. Tate was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with the couple's son when she was murdered in her home, along with four others, by a group known as the Manson Family on August 9, 1969. Tate's last completed film, 12+1, was released posthumously in 1969 with the actress receiving top-billing.
A decade after the murders, Tate's mother, Doris, in response to the growing cult status of the killers and the possibility that any of them might be granted parole, organized a public campaign against what she considered shortcomings in the state's corrections system. It resulted in amendments to the California criminal law in 1982 allowing crime victims and their families to make victim impact statements during sentencing and at parole hearings. Doris Tate was the first person to make such an impact statement under the new law when she spoke at the parole hearing of Charles "Tex" Watson, one of her daughter's killers. She believed changes in the law had afforded her daughter dignity that had been denied her before and that she had been able to "help transform Sharon's legacy from murder victim to a symbol of victims' rights".