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Manson, Charles Milles

Manson, Charles Milles, 1934–, American criminal and cult leader, b. Cincinnati, Ohio, as Charles Milles Maddox. As a youth Manson began a life of crime, mainly burglaries, thefts, and robberies, and was imprisoned for many years. After his release in 1967, he lived mostly in California. He wrote songs (he longed to be a rock star) and gathered about him what became known as the Manson Family, a cult or commune consisting mainly of young women whom the charismatic Manson indoctrinated with his belief that a coming race war that would destroy American society and empower Manson and the Family. After police arrested a Family member who had committed murder, Manson directed (Aug., 1969) his followers to precipitate the war. He ordered the murder of the occupants of a Los Angeles home (actress Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski , and six others) the next night two other people were killed. Manson was found (1971) guilty of murder and sentenced to death (commuted to life in prison when California abolished the death penalty in 1972).

See biography by J. Guinn (2013) V. Bugliosi, Helter Skelter (with C. Gentry, 1974, repr. 1996) N. Emmons, Manson in His Own Words (1987).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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