Charles Manson and his murderous Family have long been one of my biggest fascinations. I read “Helter Skelter,” the definitive account of the infamous murders that rocked Los Angeles and the world in 1969, at least once a year. My battered, dog-eared copy is one of my prized possessions.
I just devoured “Manson,” a new biography by Jeff Guinn and gained some new insights into the mind and history of Manson. His terrifying hold on society, even now, is something that really interests me and many others. Manson books, documentaries, movies and miniseries are still being churned out.
By no means do I support what was done under Manson’s sick rule. I just find it fascinating. And if you do too, here are ten things you might not have known about Charles Manson.
1. His mother was only 15 when he was born, but she wasn’t the wild child the press made her out to be. Kathleen Maddox, Manson’s mother, did run around and party through much of his childhood, but she tried to do her best for her troubled son later in her life. She had a deadbeat husband and a series of bad jobs, which didn’t help her make the best home for Charlie. Young Charlie lived with his grandmother and his aunt and uncle, who once made the small boy go to kindergarten in a dress after hearing Charlie had cried in class.
2. Charlie was always a bad seed. His schoolmates and cousins didn’t like him because he lied, cheated and blamed others for his wrongdoings. He later learned how to “act crazy” when he wanted to get attention or shift the focus.
3. Charlie was married to a teenage girl named Rosalie. She gave birth to a son, Charles Manson Jr., who committed suicide in the ‘90s. He went by his stepfather’s last name, but even still, the shame of Manson must have been too much.
4. Manson was NOT a genius. His IQ, when tested, charted in the “high normal” range.
5. Manson was heavily influenced by Scientology and the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Both made a lasting impact on his religious beliefs and method of luring followers.
6. Manson did not allow the Manson Family women to carry money. This way, if they tried to leave the Family they’d be penniless and unable to make calls or buy food. They weren’t allowed to wear glasses, either, even if they desperately needed them.
7. Manson didn’t think the Tate murder scene was gruesome enough, so he went in and rearranged things. He moved the American flag closer to the bodies and rearranged furniture.
8. In 1984, a fellow inmate tried to kill Manson by pouring paint thinner on him and setting him on fire.
9. In 2010, incarcerated Manson was caught with a cell phone. Can you imagine picking up the phone to Charlie Manson on the line?
10. He’s been denied parole 12 times. He’ll be 92 the next time he’s up for parole.