The sixties were a time of change in many ways. Political and cultural upheaval were the order of the day. Fashion and style were evolving quickly. If one has seen video clips of the Beatles' historic first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, one might remember seeing a shot of the camera panning across the audience. What struck me about this shot was that everyone--whether youngster or adult--looked like they were in their fifties or older. It was as un-stylish as a crowd could ever be. All that was about to change.
I met the actor Robert Phillips (The Dirty Dozen, The Killers) on the set of Mission: Impossible--either The Contender or The Council episode, I can't recall which--when Paul Stanley was directing. We met again at a party Paul and Jacqueline Stanley threw at their home in the Pacific Palisades. Robert usually played 'heavies', a movie term for bad guys. He looked like a bad guy but wasn't. We talked about movies and acting and the business, which is to say that I drew him out wanting to learn as much as I could--an instinct that would serve me well a lifetime later with (Interview). Before we parted company that evening, Robert gave me the name of his barber saying he thought I would like him. The name was Jay Sebring.
It was a time when hair stylists were becoming celebrities. Gene Shacove--the inspiration for Warren Beatty's character in the movie Shampoo and an owner of the hot disco The Candy Store--was known for taking care of well-known ladies. Jay Sebring was becoming known as the hair cutter to the male stars of Hollywood with Steve McQueen and Warren Beatty among his clients. I called for an appointment and remember seeing Jay's black Porsche parked in front of Sebring International on Fairfax Avenue when I arrived. I think it was the first time I ever walked away from a haircut without a scowl on my face--probably because the way he cut my hair made it look as though I hadn't had a haircut. I became a regular customer. The photo of me below taken during that period shows his handiwork.
Later, I met Sharon Tate on the set of the Dean Martin film The Wrecking Crew. Jay and Sharon had been a couple before she became involved with Roman Polanski. Thus, I had encountered two of those present at the house on Cielo Drive that terrible evening of August 9, 1969. Another person I'd met was supposed to be there that night but didn't go. His name was Steve McQueen.
In yet another eerie connection to these events, my friend John Andrews recently had a number of cars stolen from his property in Riverside County. One of them was a very desirable Ferrari 275 GTB/6c which had previously been owned by Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Brian would allow the Ferrari to be driven by an acquaintance who ultimately ran the car off the road and into a mountainside at which point Brian lost interest in the car and it passed into the hands of another. The fellow who wrecked the car was none other than Charlie Manson.
Sometimes, six degrees of separation turns into one.