Showing posts with label Debra Tate Interview. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Debra Tate Interview. Show all posts

Friday, March 22, 2013

Debra Tate did an interview recently
with her photgrapher, Alan Mercer.
Debra states that she's hoping to write a book with David Wills.
(All Photos:  Alan Mercer   Lighting:  Eric V.)
Alan Mercer:
I have always LOVED the film work of Sharon Tate so I was very excited when my friend David Wills asked me if I would do a photo session with Debra Tate.  Of course I was quite familiar with her name and I knew of her hard work.  What I didn’t know was that Debra would be so warm, intelligent, engaging and beautiful.  Having the opportunity to take some photographs and visit with her on a recent Saturday afternoon was a total delight.  

Debra’s older sister, Sharon Tate was a rising young movie star in such films as ‘Valley Of The Dolls’ and just 26 when she, along with four others, were fatally attacked by Charles Manson and his cult members on August 8, 1969.  She was married to movie director Roman Polanski and eight and a half months pregnant.  Debra called Sharon that day asking her if she could spend the night at her house, but Sharon said no. Debra was almost seventeen at the time.

Debra Ann Tate is the middle child of Colonel Paul James Tate and his wife, Doris Gwendolyn.  She was born in El Paso, Texas.  Debra got married in 1984 to William E. Mussenden, their daughter and only child Arieana Tate Mussenden, was born in 1985.

After her mother’s death in 1992, her sister Patty continued to work on her mother’s foundation, The Doris Tate Crime Victims Bureau, when Patty died 13 years ago, Debra took over.  Doris Tate was the first person to make such an impact statement under the new law, when she spoke at the parole hearing of one of her daughter's killers, Charles ‘Tex’ Watson. She believed changes in the law had afforded her daughter dignity that had been denied her before, and that she had been able to "help transform Sharon's legacy from murder victim to a symbol of victims' rights.”

Over the years we have seen Debra on several television shows and documentaries plus she has been a guest in Dateline NBC and Larry King, among many others.  She has no intention of slowing down in her determination to do the right thing.

The Interview:

AM:  What is going on that you need some photographs Debra?

DT:  At this moment I am looking for some photographs that will put me in a good light.  I’m doing a lot of television work with the news like CNN and the Fox Network.  This has to do with the possible release of Bruce Davis who is a Manson family equal, not a follower.  They want to release him into the middle of Los Angeles.  The Governor has 30 days starting February 1st to make that decision.  Hopefully we can stop this because this man is a true menace.

AM:  I can’t even believe this.

DT:  People don’t know.  There is an agenda in the state of California.  This particular governor wants his political career to end on a high note that he has balanced the unbalance-able California budget.  They have already released all the minor prisoners they can.

AM:  Why are they doing this?

DT:  What the public needs to take into consideration is any inmate over the age of fifty, just like the rest of us, becomes a medical liability.  The costs can be millions of dollars.  So the governor doesn’t care who they are or what they’ve done.  He wants them out.  It helps him balance that budget. 

AM:  What can we do as members of the public?

DT:   All of us need to email the Governors office at and let him know how we feel as citizens, that we don’t want this man released into the general population.  The clock is ticking.  The parole board granted Bruce a parole date.  The Governor got the papers on his desk February 1st.  He has thirty days to make up his mind, but he could make up his mind anytime before March 1st.

AM:  Obviously this is a personal crusade for you.

DT:  It is a personal crusade and it isn’t.  At this point in time there is nothing that can be done to help my immediate situation, but what I can do is to prevent it from happening to anybody else with the best of my abilities.

AM:  You seem to know a lot about these people.

DT:  I do sit in the parole room with each of these individuals and I can honestly say they are definitely sociopathic individuals.  There is no cure or deprograming for a sociopath.  I’m genuinely worried that it’s business as usual.  They have cell phones and Internet connections.  They are still speaking with each other and they are very organized.  There’s no reason for me to believe that there’s any other agenda with those factors in place. 

AM:  Is this something you are prepared to do for the rest of your life?

DT:  Yes.

AM:  Are you aware of how much the public feels for you?  Do you feel this energy aimed at you?

DT:  I know that some power somewhere feels I’m doing the right thing and I feel support from that power.  I’m not sure that I realized it was from people or not because I do have a small group of vocal haters.  Sometimes I feel that’s the more prominent voice.  So sometimes I doubt myself.   

AM:  Please do not doubt yourself at all.  

DT:  I would like to state that one reason I’m not aware of my following in the general population is because I can work my rear end off, and others can as well, and I have never been able to break more than 80 letters against the killers release.  I need all the support I can get.   

AM:  Why do you think people don’t do it?

DT:  I realize there’s a strong possibility that people are afraid to put their names and addresses on things but I’d like to take this opportunity to assure them that, I really need the help and all the names and addresses are blacked out by the prison board.  Nobody ever gets to see them.  

AM:  Have you given any thought to getting the word out on social media like facebook and Twitter?

DT:   My webmaster runs facebook for me.  I haven’t done it myself.  I’m scared due to the fact that I get at least four death threats a year.  I don’t want to taint anything to do with Sharon with this negativity.  Now these threats have been around whether I’m on facebook or not.  They have always managed to find their way to me.  Also, I have many crazy stalkers and imposters and people who try to say I’m not a member of my own family.  It’s all absolutely absurd.  It all hurts my feelings.

AM:  I think it’s the fact that your personal story has taken on a mythological status.  The story is just so famous.

DT:  I think you’re right. It just seems like people with weak personalities want to be me.  I don’t get it.  I don’t think I’m famous and I certainly don’t have any money as a result of all this.  All of this business has just cost me, it’s never made me a dime.  It’s a terrible waste of notoriety.  It’s not what people think it is.   

AM:  It’s not even possible to imagine what you’ve been through.

DT:  I wouldn’t want anyone to even try to imagine it.  It was all so brutal.  I counsel people who have had to deal with a brutal murder on a regular basis.  I will be there for anybody at anytime for something like this.  It’s all so devastating.  So those people who want to be me are are not reality based. 

AM:  You were so young when the incident happened.

DT: I was almost seventeen at the time, but I was integrated right into Sharon and Roman’s social crowd.  Being a military brat, when you are traveling the globe every three years, the only thing that’s consistent in your life is your family members, so Sharon and I were extremely close, even though there was almost a ten year age difference.  

AM:  She was the big sister you idolized.

DT:  She was everything.  She was my whole world.   

AM:  Are you happy with the way Sharon is remembered?

DT:  No, not at all.  

AM: What would you like to change?

DT:  Well I’m hopefully going to be doing a beautiful book about Sharon with David Wills that will say nothing about the last twenty minutes of her life.  Sharon had an amazing body of work.  I don’t know when she had time to interact with friends and family, she was so incredibly busy.  I want to fortify her beauty as a person and as a style and fashion icon.  I want to put that back out there again because she is not just a victim.  That was a very small portion of her life. 

AM:  Well you’re a beautiful person and sister yourself Debra.

DT:  Thank you.

AM:  Do you think Sharon has a bigger following today than ever?

DT:   Her fan base is growing again.  It’s been growing for the last five years or so.  Fashion repeats itself every thirty years so since the Sixties styles came back in again, the Stars have been wearing the Sharon Tate hairdo and the Sharon Tate look.  She is reaching a younger generation who is becoming aware of who and what she was.  I’m told that Kelly Osborne is a big fan.  Drew Barrymore did a VOGUE layout that was modeled after Sharon.

AM:  I hear about her all the time.  She is a contemporary ongoing subject.

DT:  She should be.  The maniacs shouldn’t be able to take that away. 
(All Photos:  Alan Mercer   Lighting:  Eric V.)