It was only after I made the cross continental move to Los Angeles, Calif. did I actually begin to fully recognize the historical and cultural significance this town has on contemporary society.
The famous HOLLYWOOD sign can be seen from the rooftop of my apartment building. Members of famous rock bands grew up down the street from me. I’ve seen different celebrities wandering around my neighborhood and it’s not unusual to spot filming crews for TV shows, commercials and movies.
Even though this place is my home now, I still haven’t really gotten around to visiting any of the traditional tourist attractions– I have yet to go to any of the museums, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Disneyland or Griffith Park Observatory.
However, I have visited the house where Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were stabbed to death by members of Charles Manson’s followers, later called “The Manson Family”, in August of 1969.
Yes, I do know that this is more than a bit morbid.
I read “Helter Skelter”, the story of the Manson case by prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, the summer after my freshman year of college. I have since kept a close eye on the story, still following the lives of the people who were involved. There’s no other true-crime case that intrigues me as much as the Manson story. I decided that needed to go to these places where this history actually happened–the Tate-LaBianca houses, two of Los Angeles’ most famous haunted houses.
The house on Cielo Drive, where pregnant Sharon Tate and her dinner guests were massacred by The Manson Family, a crime that was committed 40 years ago last August, was torn down sometime in the 1990s. Another house, later called “The McMansion” was raised in it’s place.
But, the LaBianca house still stands. Renovated since the murders, the driveway is located in a different place in the yard and a heavy gate stands between the house and the rest of Waverly Drive. It also has a different address to keep away the curious.
And it’s located 10 minutes from my apartment in my neighborhood of Los Feliz.
Phil and I drove up the long, winding road looking for the house and immediately recognized it from the old black and white photos. Though I have read that people have occupied the house since the murders, I was still shocked to see that there were cars parked in driveway.
I parked Phil’s Ford Escape across the narrow street, just kitty corner from the LaBianca house. Phil waited in the car while I hopped out to take some photos.
The homeowners had padlocked the looming red gate with a strong silver chain. I noticed that no other house on the street had comparable security.
I loitered for a bit in front of the house and snapped a few photos. After standing there for a few minutes, I started to feel uncomfortable. We didn’t stay for very long.
Soon, I’d also like to go check out The Spahn Movie Ranch, the movie set where Manson and his cult lived during the late 60s.
There’s actually a “Helter Skelter” tour that takes people to the relevant locations, but it’s $50 per person and a 3.25 hour commitment. That might be a little bit much for me.