Sharon Tate and Philippe Forquet – The Untold Story
How serious was Philippe’s relationship with Sharon? It has been said that they were engaged, is that true?
LM: The relationship of Sharon Tate and Philippe Forquet was as serious as it gets. It was 1962 and Hollywood was still under the control of the big studios and powerful producers. Stars were still put under contract, which had strict morals clauses. The stars were compelled to adhere to the studio’s guidelines and standards.
We all know the story of how Sharon Tate was being groomed to be Hollywood’s brightest new star, mysteriously being kept under wraps by a Svengali-like producer. A wealthy man, son of a successful California family, the producer was a brash, powerful figure, who took one look at the incredibly beautiful young beauty and signed her on the spot. He had found someone with the polished class of Debra Kerr, the cool beauty of Kim Novak, the clean cut innocence of Natalie Wood and the warm naiveté and natural sexiness of Marilyn Monroe. Moreover, she could do her own stunts.
She was bright, articulate and altogether lovely. During the next several years, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars were invested by the production company to tweak and tone her fabulousness into a perfect package. Everything was going along perfectly but the studio had not reckoned with the prospect of her falling in love….
Philippe Forquet “In the French Style.”
Philippe Forquet was one of the handsomest men in Hollywood in the early 60′s. He was being compared with a young Montgomery Clift. In the Sixties French film stars were all the rage. Brigitte Bardot, Jeanne Moreau, Yves Montand, Charles Boyer, Alain Delon and Louis Jourdan were big box office names. There was room for a new young, Gallic hero with an edge. When 20th Century Fox was looking for a handsome French star for their newest film “Take Her She’s Mine,” the natural choice was the Forquet.
Not only had he proved he could act well in the role of a sixteen-year-old French aristocrat, who falls in love with a beautiful twenty-something, played by Jean Seberg, he also had star-quality, a certain self-assurance and inherent breeding. He was flown over from France as the hottest young French heartthrob, fresh from a very successful film debut in “In the French Style.” He was enjoying the delights of A list Hollywood, attending the parties, meeting the stars and working with the beautiful and beloved teen star Sandra Dee and the super star, Jimmy Stewart. He was appearing in fan magazines, working with the best acting coach to perfect his talent and his English, and getting tons of fan letters a week.
LM:There are different accounts of how they met. I forget if he told me or not. I believe it was outside a Hollywood restaurant with mutual friends. Oh yes, it was the Swiss Cafe and they were with Hal Gretzky, Sharon’s agent. I only know that one day he met by chance this most lovely of all women. It was love at first sight for both of them. However, for the young French leading man it was a date with disaster.
What ended their relationship?
The relationship ended with a bang after the stress of living with Sharon’s obligations to the studio culminated in a dreadful scene. There was a huge fight between Sharon and Philippe and a third party. The third party was very influential. There were not paparazzi like there are now and the studios still had power over the press. Philippe Forquet’s contract with Fox was cancelled and he was blackballed in Hollywood. His career was in shambles and he lost Sharon too. As far as his fans and the public were concerned, he just disappeared. I remember looking for him in the fan magazines, where he had often appeared, before I met him.
No mention was made of him any longer in any newspapers. Little or nothing was reported about the incident. There were only rumors. It was assumed that he had voluntarily returned to his homeland. Things were different then. Scandals would be hushed up; stories could be invented or embellished. Stars were born but in order to shine they had to be made. Nowadays a violent incident between two Hollywood hotties would be front-page news. However, because of who was involved it was all hushed up.
What is the truth behind the rumored violence in their relationship?
LM: I only know of the incident on the last day that they ever saw each other. I was told that there had been much throwing of dishes throughout the relationship but that no one had gotten hurt. They were both young, proud, gorgeous and on the road to fame and fortune. Career pressures, the demands from the image-makers, contractual obligations put stress on the relationship. He wanted to marry; she could not and would not. Her understanding with the studio was that she should remain an object of desire. Being married would have greatly reduced her sex appeal at this stage of her career. Maybe later. He was jealous and she was a free spirit. He no longer cared about his career and became obsessed with Sharon.
But she would not, could not fulfill the engagement.
What did Philippe tell you about Sharon? (i.e.: stories/memories, vacations they went on, her personality, etc.)
LM: He told me a lot about her, but a lot was critical. All during our courtship, she was always in the news and she came out in four movies. We were just starting our relationship. It was hard for me to have so many reminders of her everywhere. I remember he was not pleased with the Playboy spread. We looked at it on the newsstand and he made a wry face. He was not going to say his real thoughts to me. Who knows how it feels to see your former love on display like that. However, he did say she should not have done it. He was very conservative. I thought she looked beautiful. My ideas were a bit more liberal than his were too. He was adamant about not appearing in nude scenes. In the Seventies things loosened up a bit more and he became more open to nudity in film although he never did so himself.
Philippe thought she should have tried to be more serious and not for the sex-goddess route. He had started in theater and considered acting an art form. He believed she was a very good actress, but that acting was not a good career choice for a womwn, and even for a man. But there was nothing he could do now and there was nothing he could do when they were together. That was in the program.
Sharon was to be a sex-goddess. What’s more, Sharon had nothing at all against it. She jokingly referred to herself as “Sexy Little Me.” She was like a Flower Child with her attitude toward sex and nudity. She thought these things were entirely natural and inherently beautiful and good. And you couldn’t help believing her.
Philippe did not approve of the opening scenes of “Don’t Make Waves” Sharon’s second movie. This was the POV of Tony Curtis being dragged by Sharon who played a lifeguard named Malibu.
We went to see ”Don’t make Waves” together. He almost died when the film opened with a close up of a very shapely bikini clad butt and it turned out to be Sharon’s. Quite undignified, He hated the movie. He wanted her to be represented in a more serious light. More like Jean Seberg, his leading lady in the Robert Parrish movie, In the French Style. Her role as Odile in Thirteen was much more serious and she played it well. He liked that film.
Philippe had been brought up in a very Catholic and very old aristocratic family. His title was Philippe Forquet Viscount de Dorne. He was Old School, kind of a conservative outlook. He had wanted to legitimize their relationship. She would become a Viscountess, they would move to France on his family’s estate. He would put lawyers on her contract with the producers and buy her out. But there was no getting out of the contract.
For a few months they ran away to New York where they were happy for a while keeping house on the Upper East Side and socializing with the New York literary crowd, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams and John Knowles. Philippe attended the Actor’s Studio. But Sharon was summoned back to Hollywood when their engagement was announced in the gossip columns. That is when the real trouble started and the studio made a concerted effort to break them up.
When/how did Philippe find out about her death? How did he handle it? Did he attend her funeral?
LM: That fateful summer of 69 found Philippe Forquet, his friend the American author John Knowles, and me in a villa in the South of France. We had just run into Sharon and Roman in Rome coming out of the Cafe des Paris. She was in town shooting Thirteen Chairs with Orson Wells, one of her favorite actors. She looked well and happy.
Philippe was notified by an attorney friend in Rome by telephone. He was profoundly affected. Put yourself in his place, someone you loved and lived with was killed in such a grotesque way. And don’t forget, for quite a while no one knew who did it. Philippe himself was a suspect at first. The significant other, former and current, always is a suspect.
But, of course, he was 6000 miles away. So it was a horrible mystery for about two agonizing months. We were constantly seeing headlines in the papers and reporters were calling. John Knowles was in the middle of writing a book based on Sharon and Philippe’s story and how they broke up. He had spoken to me about his impression of their relationship. We were all deeply shocked at the news;
None of us attended the funeral. We would have if we had been in LA. Philippe was due to shoot Waterloo in Rome. John did finish the book, though. It was called “The Paragon” The story was changed around but the lovers are Sharon and Philippe. The book is even dedicated to Philippe.
Many people have said their lives completely changed because of it – they never felt safe again, etc., is that true with Philippe and you as well?
LM: Because I lived so far from LA, in Europe, I was not fearful in the way that people who lived there were. When I look back, I see that I was so self absorbed that I did not really realize the depth of Philippe’s pain. Perhaps I could have helped him more but I was only twenty and in the middle of planning my wedding, which was called off because of the tragedy and another strange incident that happened a week later. Philippe himself, as well as John and I, were attacked by a knife-wielding maniac. But that’s another story.
We were constantly bombarded with headlines in the international press accusing Sharon and her friends of horrible things, trying to say she brought it upon herself. This was very hurtful and offensive to anyone who knew her. There was endless speculation about Satanism etc. Her fans know all about it. Philippe refused to read about it, but I read some. He turned down interviews. Fortunately, he had to go deep into the Russian countryside, behind the Iron Curtain, to shoot Waterloo at the end of 1969 and got away from the whole circus of the Manson trial. We were living in Rome at the time, but she was known and written about there as well as in France England and Spain. So there was no escape from the headlines, the magazine covers and the endless speculation.
How were you affected by the tragedy?
LM: The tragic deaths affected my life in many ways. First of all, as I said, my wedding to Philippe which was to take place in September of 1969 in the South of France. a few days after the murder, had to be called off. Philippe was devastated and frankly I was very upset too. We finally got married the next year in carmel, California.
When he returned from Russia, Philippe and I moved to LA so he could shoot “The Young Rebels.” On every street corner, in every restaurant, there were reminders of Sharon for him. He was depressed and withdrawn, throwing himself into his work but moping around most of the time. He redoubled his efforts to keep me out of show business, which he blamed for their break up and her eventual tragic death.
What was his relationship like with Sharon’s family?
LM: .I don’t really know much. From what I understand, her mother and sisters liked Philippe at first. However, when it became clear that he was going to be interfering in Sharon’s life, causing problems with the studio, and talking about taking her away to France, they encouraged her to break it off.I know that he liked her father and sisters, but has lost touch with them. He said they were very nice people and that Sharon had been well brought up, something important to him. He could not abide vulgarity.
What were his, and your, thoughts about Roman? Did Philippe approve of their relationship?
LM: Philippe did not like Roman much. He did not know him, but from what I could see Roman was the antithesis of Philippe in every way, physically, mentally, philosophically and politically. We both respected his work. I believe that Sharon truly loved him. And this time she was allowed to buy out of her contract. He was not warm toward me, but he was polite and nice the times I met him. I thought then and still do that he is tremendously talented. I could see what she saw in him.
Did he remain in touch with Sharon after their relationship was over?
LM: Philippe said he had run into her in London and Rome a few times before he met me. As far as I know, the only time he ever saw her again was the day we both ran into Sharon and Roman coming out of a café on the Via Veneto in Rome. This was sometime in 1969. She and Philippe exchanged the ritual French cheek kissing and she introduced him to Polanski. We exchanged a few pleasantries and spoke of mutual friends and acquaintances but she did not mention the baby. She was wearing a loose dress and I did not realize that she was so pregnant. She looked positively radiant. She said she was happy and on her way to LA. I do know that she remained in some sort of contact with John Knowles and other of their mutual friends, who sometimes mentioned what she was up to. I got the impression she was on top of the world. She was glad to get out of her contract with the producer and was eager to be a wife and mother.
I don’t know if you could answer this but a fan would like to know… Did Philippe ever mention one thing that he would always remember about Sharon, like a certain characteristic or memory?
LM: Philippe was not really into talking about what he liked about Sharon to me. As we all do, when speaking of ex’s, he tended to downplay his fonder feelings for her. He wanted to reassure me and, I guess himself, that it was over between them and that he was able to give his all to our relationship. However, I got the impression that she was very special. I know he and John Knowles said that her actions had hurt him very much
At that time, she was in all the magazines in Europe and on the covers. I could not escape seeing that beautiful face. It was a bit daunting. Philippe encouraged me to give up modeling and all thoughts of being an actress. I did not have as much at stake as Sharon and tried to comply. I knew that a model’s career is limited and I was in love and wanted to get married.
What about you, what has stuck in your mind about her and allowed you to still remember her today? I was struck by her incredible beauty, inside and out. I think she would have been a worthy successor to Marilyn Monroe as far as Sex Goddess goes, but I thought she could have gone very far in her career. Not only was she beautiful but she was NICE. Didn’t seem to have a bitchy bone in her body. There was no guile in her.
You’ve mentioned meeting Sharon twice, what – aside from her looks/beauty – has stuck in your memory about her?
LM: She held herself in good posture; she was very well groomed and spoke in very clear tones. If you have ever seen the promo film “All Eyes on Sharon Tate”, you will know how she was. She was like the “finished” Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady.” She had obtained a European polish, which was charming. She was very straightforward. People seemed to take to her as they took to Lady Di a few decades later, of course not yet on such a grand scale. However, she had the potential of a superstar.
As fans, it is always nice to hear people’s thoughts on Sharon. What do you have to say about her and your impression of her as a person… for example: did she have a good personality? Was she quiet/shy or very bubbly? Did she have an ego? Etc.
LM: Of course, my meeting was short, only a few hours, but I did get to know her a little when we ladies of the dinner party, all went to the Powder Room of Chez Castel in Paris together. In Paris when two Americans meet, they tend to bond immediately, strangers in a strange land, and that happened between Sharon and me. Of course, it was strengthened by the fact that I was engaged to Philippe Forquet.
I had quite a few questions for her. We spoke for some time and she told me many things about them as a couple, about him and about his friend, John Knowles. She seemed to be concerned about me, to care. She was an absolutely lovely person. We continued our conversation at the dinner table where I was seated across from her and beside Polanski. Fortunately, he was engaged in a long conversation with his partner on the left, so Sharon and I had no one else to talk to anyway. We chattered away about the handsome and elegant, yet somehow tragic Philippe.
According to some, Sharon had slept around with a lot of men and tried to further her career by doing so, did Philippe ever mention if Sharon was unfaithful to him?
LM: I don’t know about Sharon sleeping around with a lot of men. I do know she dated Richard Beymer and he helped her. He was a big star at the time. But she genuinely liked him. I did not get the impression that she slept around a lot to further her career. She did not need to anyway. She had her producer and he was the one to give her work. Their relationship has been spoken about by those who knew her. I will not go into what was said.. What she did before she met Philippe, I don’t know. Philippe did mention one incident, the one that led to violence..
Sharon had been summoned to the studio one evening after they returned from New York and she was trying to continue seeing him while pretending to the studio that she was not. He had been visiting her in her apartment when the phone rang. He told me he followed her along the Pacific Coast Highway. He found her with someone. There was a fight. She got caught by flying debris. Whether it was deliberate or an accident I don’t know. I only know they both told me the same story. She had to be taken to the hospital. I have left out some of the details because I don’t want to mention any names. This is what I have been told, but I have no way of knowing if it is accurate.
Did Philippe ever mention Sharon having a temper with him?
LM: He said she stood up for herself, but her argument was wrong. She wanted to carry on like the rising sex goddess and keep her fiancé a secret. It just could not work. There was yelling and throwing of things. It has been written about before. I doubt there was any physical hitting. However, flying objects can be dangerous.
Did Sharon ever discuss Roman or Jay Sebring with you and/or Philippe? If so, what did she say?
LM: She mentioned in the ladies room in Paris that she was planning on marrying Roman and that she was very happy. When one of the other girls pointed out that Roman was a real ladies’ man, Sharon said she didn’t care. That is just the way men are. Some of the European girls agreed. I was not so sure. She never mentioned Jay Sebring. Philippe did a few times. But, I have heard from others who knew him that he was a very nice guy.
In your last meeting with her she was pregnant. Did she discuss the baby with you? If so, what all did she say? Did she seem upset about anything? Some people feel she was going to leave him, did she mention any problems, etc.?
LM: Unfortunately, the last meeting was brief, just two couples running into each other. Polanski and Forquet wanted to separate us two chattering magpies. Were the circumstances different, I am sure Sharon and I would have been friends. At least I would have liked to be. She did not seem upset about anything at all. I doubt that she was planning on leaving him.
I believe she was planning to join her two best friends in being Hollywood Wives and putting her career on the back burner, just as I was doing. It was more usual then. She was greatly looking forward to the child as far as I know. Philippe always said that she really did not want to be an actress. It was more or less thrust upon her a combination of luck and location and of course those incredible good looks. She thought of it as an opportunity for an interesting life, fame and fortune. But she could have been just as happy raising babies in the country, Philippe seemed to think. That is not to say that she did not take her career seriously. Once she signed that contract, she did her utmost to become what the studio wanted her to be. She was highly intelligent and a quick study.
What is your favorite Sharon film? Modeling session?
LM: My favorite film was Valley of the Dolls. I thought Sharon did a great job. I don’t have a favorite modeling session…I liked them all. She was wonderful in Thirteen.
Do you think she and Roman would have been good parents?
LM: That’s hard to say. Being in the limelight as they were, it may have been difficult to maintain a good home life. I know she would have loved the child dearly. In addition, she would have had the support of her family who were good people. I believe family life, something that Roman probably never would have thought he could have, would have tamed him a bit. He would have made sure the child had a good education and never wanted for anything. But he never got that chance. That part of his life is such a tragedy and I doubt that a day goes by that he does not think of the terrible fate of his wife and child. My heart goes out to him, Sharon’s family and Philippe too.
Do you still keep in touch with Philippe? What are both your lives like today?
LM: I spoke to Philippe a few years ago and he was doing quite well. He gave up the acting profession and went into art, antiques and other businesses. I heard he also owns a thriving French boulangerie where he supervises the creation of wonderful French pastries. Cooking was a hobby of his and he was a fine chef. He remarried twice and has three children. His last wife and he have been together for years and are very happy.Once in awhile someone contacts me about him and he still has a few fan clubs on the net. People just do not realize how his life was destroyed by his love for the beautiful Sharon Tate. Somehow, he just rates a few speculative lines, with some unattractive allegations. There was never a police record and he was never indicted for anything. He just stepped on some big toes.
Things got better as the years went by but we began to drift apart, too. Because of his experiences with Sharon, he did not want me to work in the entertainment or modeling industries. It was the cause of many arguments, He felt that I was too naive and trusting and would get into some bad situations with unscrupulous directors and producers.
After Philippe and I divorced amicably in the mid Seventies, I went back to modeling and had some success in Europe. I remarried and have four children. I live in New York City where I am writing my memoirs. These questions have helped me think about that fateful time and organize my thoughts.
Below are just a few of the magazine headlines that Philippe had to see everywhere.