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In 1968, Charles Manson, a man who had spent half his life to date in prison and lived in a hippie commune, listened to The Beatles' The White Album. He heard hidden messages on the album (or claimed to, at any rate) about a race war that would break out the following year, and got along with his mates, from then on known as the "Manson Family", to provoke said war - by committing several brutal murders (including Roman Polanski's pregnant wife, Sharon Tate), leaving the message "Helter Skelter" (the name of a song on the The White Album) written in blood on the walls. He was arrested in December 1969, and three years later his death penalty was commuted to a life sentence. He has remained in prison since then (largely in solitary confinement, for his own safety) and is today perhaps the most internationally famous criminal in custody.
Unrelated to Shirley Manson, but Marilyn Manson's Stage Name is based on him.
Charles Manson and the Manson Family murders in media:
Manson (1973), documentary by Robert Hendrickson and Laurence Merrick that featured interviews with Charles Manson and other members of the Manson Family.
Helter Skelter (1976), TV adaptation of the Bugliosi-Gentry non-fiction book (see below).
Charles Manson Superstar (1989) by Nikolas Schreck, another documentary about Charles Manson, filmed mostly inside San Quentin Prison.
Helter Skelter (2004), remake of the 1976 movie, with a greater focus on Charles Manson's backstory and motives.
The US horror movie The Strangers (2008), as stated by its director Bryan Bertino, is partially based on the Manson Family murders.
The Canadian film Leslie, My Name Is Evil (2009) revolves around a young juror falling in love with Leslie, a member of the Manson Family, during her trial for the LaBianca murders.
He's played by punk rocker Robert Hecker in Raymond Pettibon's irreverent take on the Manson mystique, The Book Of Manson (1989).
Helter Skelter (1974), a bestselling non-fiction book by Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor in Charles Manson's trial, and writer Curt Gentry. Up to today the most important publicly accessible source of facts about the Manson Family murders.
The character Alice McMillan in John Kaye's noir crime novel The Dead Circus (2003) is a former member of the Manson Family, which becomes a plot point.
Claire Vaye Watkins's short story "Ghosts, Cowboys", from the collection "Battleborn" (2012) is about the weight of history, including her personal history as the daughter of Manson's right-hand man.
Live Action TV
Manson was mentioned in the first episode of Series/Gangland, which covered the Aryan Brotherhood. The episode described Manson's brief alliance with the AB.
The Ozzy Osbourne song "Bloodbath in Paradise" from No Rest for the Wicked is about Charles Manson and his Family.
Neil Young's "Revolution Blues" is written from what may be Manson's PoV. Young claimed to have met Manson during his days hanging around the LA hippie scene.
Britpop band Mansun were accused of having named themselves after Manson, although they insisted it was after an early track by The Verve called "A Man Called Sun". Their own first single, however, had spelt their name with an "o" on the label and cover.
Deicide wrote a song called "Lunatic of God's Creation" about him (one of the few anti-religious/Satanic songs they've written, incidentally) on their Self-Titled Album.
The Manson Family (1990), an opera by American composer John Moran.
Charles Manson is an off-stage character in Stephen Sondheim's musical Assassins (1990). Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, a real-life member of the "Manson Family" who attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975, figures on stage.
In South Park episode "Merry Christmas, Charlie Manson!", Cartman's uncle Howard breaks from prison to celebrate Christmas with the rest of the family. He is accompanied by his prison pal, a certain "Charlie" Manson, who (after a shootout with the police) ends up learning about theTrue Meaning of Christmas.
In a five-minute Claymation segment on MTV's 1997 Cartoon Shushi which would eventually become the pilot for Celebrity Deathmatch, he fought Marilyn Manson, ultimately losing when the musician ripped his skeleton out through his mouth.