With the help of Charles Manson, Bobby Beausoleil went from just another struggling actor and musician to a world-famous murderer.
The world of Charles Manson was populated with a cast of characters to rival Batman’s rogue’s galleries — not to mention the head honcho himself. But one of the most fascinating members, however, had to have been Bobby Beausoleil: musician, part-time porn star, Haigh-Ashbury bum, and eventual Manson murderer.
Though he wasn’t involved in the murders of actress Sharon Tate and her houseguests as well as the wealthy LaBianca couple, Beausoleil did kill in Manson’s name. Once a handsome punk with a juvie record and some acting chops, the angelic-looking felon — whose very name loosely translates to “beautiful sun” — eventually sentenced to life imprisonment even before the most famous Manson violence was even committed.
Bobby Beausoleil: Born To Be Wild
Robert Beausoleil’s childhood was fairly normal like most of the Manson Family members.
Born in 1947 to a working-class French Catholic family in 1940s California, Bobby Beausoleil’s father supported them as a milkman before working his way up the latter. Despite his sunny name and angelic looks, Beausoleil’s youth was full of petty antics and infractions which eventually resulted in a year of reform school when he was 12.
He then drifted to the Counter-Cultural capital of the World in 1960s San Francisco and specifically to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. There he lived with alternative filmmaker Kenneth Anger, and Beausoleil consequently fell into the film industry.
His early forays into film, however, included pornographies. Then Anger cast Beausoleil as Lucifer in his underground film Lucifer Rising, among some of Beausoleil’s other bit parts. The eeriest thing he starred in, however, was the documentary Mondo Hollywood. Today the subject matter seems a bit trite as the documentary follows the swell of the hippies and “freaks” of the Counter Culture and their “perversities” like drug use and homosexuality.
Alongside a pouty young Beausoleil in this film was none other than Jay Sebring, a celebrity stylist, and future Manson Family victim in the 1969 Manson murders.
Early Days With Manson At Spahn Ranch
According to Beausoleil, he met Charles Manson in L.A. in the mid-60s when the cult leader was freshly released from prison. With his piercing stare and shoulder-length mop, Manson looked a bit like a biblical prophet to a bohemian like Beausoleil.
According to Beausoleil himself, the “Manson Family” was a term established only after the fact. Before that, there were just “a bunch of girls, a few guys, a couple of ex-cons, a bunch of kids, some runaways with no support from home, and they were living in a garbage dump called the Spahn Ranch.”
Indeed, Beausoleil did spend a fair amount of time at Manson’s hacienda at Spahn Ranch. The ranch was classic cult hideaway as it was isolated with more than a dozen children running amok rife with orgies in its heyday. For whatever reason, Beausoleil found himself drawn into Manson’s “helter-skelter” world.
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