Nearly 46 years after initially receiving the death sentence for directing his "Family" to commit the brutal Tate-LaBianca murders of 1969, Charles Manson has died of natural causes at the age of 83. Click through for 20 strange facts about the petty criminal turned cult leader and mass murderer, whose actions brought a horrifying end to the '60s.
He Was Born With No Name
Charles Manson was born on November 12, 1934, in Cincinnati, Ohio. His mother, a 16-year-old runaway named Kathleen Maddox, wouldn't identify the father and refused to name her child, so the infant was referred to in hospital records as "no name Maddox." Some weeks later, he was named Charles.
His Father Was a No-Show
Manson is the surname of a man his mother was briefly married to after Charlie was born. The boy reportedly never met his biological father, Colonel Walker Scott. A court ordered Scott to pay $5 a month in child support, but the deadbeat dad ignored the order.
He Married Young
At 21 and fresh out of prison for burglary, Manson married a waitress named Rosalie Willis and headed to California. Soon he was back in prison. Rosalie gave birth to a son, Charles Manson Jr., while her husband was incarcerated. Before long, she divorced him.
He Became a Pimp
After leaving prison, Manson started pimping out a 16-year-old girl named Leona. The two got married, reportedly so that Leona could not be forced to testify against Manson as he faced a series of criminal charges. This marriage, too, ended in divorce.
He Had a Famous Guitar Teacher
Alvin "Creepy" Karpis—the brains behind the Ma Barker gang and for a time Public Enemy No. 1—taught Manson how to play guitar when the two met in prison. Charlie made use of his musical skills after moving to San Francisco when he set out to gain a hippie following in Haight-Ashbury.
He Lived With a Beach Boy
Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson picked up a couple of Manson's female followers hitchhiking; soon, his home was inhabited by dozens of Manson Family members and even Charlie himself. After a few months, Wilson had his manager evict everybody.
He Built a Commune on a Movie Set
After they were kicked out of Dennis Wilson's home, the Manson Family moved to Spahn Ranch outside Los Angeles. Once used as a set for TV and movie westerns, the place had fallen into disrepair. Instead of paying rent, the Family provided manual labor and Charlie's female followers were occasionally ordered to have sex with the ranch's 80-year-old owner, George Spahn.
His Songs Got Covered
Manson never succeeded as a musician, but he wrote songs that were eventually covered by artists like Axl Rose (seen here wearing a Charles Manson T-shirt) and Marilyn Manson (who took his surname from the notorious killer). Charlie's first success was the Beach Boys' "Never Learn Not to Love," but he didn't get credit for that one. Dennis Wilson based the song on Manson's "Cease to Exist" and credited it to himself, infuriating the cult leader.
He Was a Beatlemaniac
Manson viewed the Beatles as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelation. In January 1969, his commune moved from Spahn Ranch into a canary-yellow house in Canoga Park that Manson named "Yellow Submarine." He spent much of his time preparing his followers for an apocalyptic race war that he called "Helter Skelter."
Grandpa Munster Remembered Him Fondly
On a few occasions, Manson served as a babysitter for the children of actor Al Lewis, aka Grandpa Munster. According to Lewis, Charlie "was a nice guy when I knew him."
He Let His Followers Do the Killing
The Family's killing spree took place less than a week before Woodstock, in the summer of '69. Although he led the slaughter, there's no evidence that Manson personally killed anyone. In fact, he wasn't even at the scene during the grisly Tate-LaBianca murders.
He Tried Defending Himself
Judge William Keene agreed to let Manson act as his own attorney in his murder trial. But Manson's "outlandish" behavior and failure to abide by a pre-trial gag order changed the judge's mind before the trial even began, and a lawyer was assigned to the case. On the first day of the trial, Manson showed up with an "X" carved into his forehead. ("I have X'ed myself from your world," he said.) Other Family members quickly followed suit.
The Judge Was Packing Heat
At one point during the trial, Manson jumped over the defense table and tried to attack Judge Charles H. Older, who'd replaced the original judge in the case. After that incident, Judge Older reportedly began carrying a handgun under his robe.
The Devil Got His Due
After being convicted on all counts, Manson and four of his female followers were sentenced to death on April 19, 1971. Before the sentencing, Manson shaved his head and declared, "I am the Devil." In February 1972, the California penal code was modified and the death sentences were reduced to life in prison for all five Family members.
He Did a Late-Night Talk Show
Manson's first interview while he was incarcerated took place in June 1981 when he appeared on "The Tomorrow Show" with Tom Snyder. The "X" carved into his forehead had been revised—it was now a swastika. "You scared to die?" Snyder asked his guest. "Living is what scares me," Manson answered. "Dying is easy."
He Tried Scientology
After completing 150 hours of Scientology training, Manson declared the religion "too crazy" even for him.
He Studied Dale Carnegie
In prison, Manson took classes held by the Dale Carnegie Institute, based on Carnegie's best-selling self-help book "How to Win Friends and Influence People." The book was a longtime favorite among business people, including Warren Buffett.
He Had 12 Parole Hearings
The last was in 2012, and for the 12th time the petition was denied. His next parole hearing was set for 2027.
He Got Engaged in Prison
In November 2014, Manson and 26-year-old Afton Elaine "Star" Burton obtained a marriage license, but the wedding never took place. It has been reported that Burton only wanted to marry Manson so that she could collect his corpse after his death and create a tourist attraction.
He Thought He Was the Smartest Guy in the Room
"Look down at me and you see a fool; look up at me and you see a god; look straight at me and you see yourself." —Charles Manson, as quoted in the book "101 People You Won't Meet in Heaven"
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