Sunday, July 20, 2014

Curt Gentry (Co-Author of "Helter Skelter") Has Died.

Curt Gentry, a San Francisco author who wrote or co-wrote 13 books including best-seller "Helter Skelter" about the Charles Manson case, died July 10 in a San Francisco hospital.
Curt Gentry in the study of his San Francisco home in 1991.
He helped elevate the true-crime narrative into the mainstream. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Curt Gentry had his biggest commercial success when he teamed up with Vincent Bugliosi to write the 1974 blockbuster “Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders.” 

Mr. Gentry had written books about California history and culture when he teamed with Mr. Bugliosi, who as a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles had prosecuted the Manson case, among the most sensational of the 20th century.

As the prosecutor, Mr. Bugliosi was in a position to deliver an authoritative, exclusive account. He provided the facts and the documentation; Mr. Gentry, the driving narrative.

The book’s title was taken from words written in blood at one of the crime scenes, a reference to the title of a 1968 Beatles song that had resonated with Mr. Manson. He and his followers were convicted; Mr. Manson, now 79, remains in prison.

The book became one of the best-selling titles of the 1970s, helping to elevate true-crime narratives into the mainstream. In 1975, it won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for best fact crime book.

The success of “Helter Skelter,” and the royalty checks it provided, gave Mr. Gentry the time to research and write “J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets,” published in 1991.

With nearly 850 pages of text and documentation, including previously undisclosed internal documents, the book, a 15-year project, shed new light on the man who led the Federal Bureau of Investigation for 48 years.

Excerpted from: HERE

Mr. Gentry, who was 83, had been ill for some time with lung cancer.
A modest man with an easy manner, Mr. Gentry was a fixture on the North Beach literary scene for years. His books, which ranged from a guide to San Francisco to an account of the search for the fabled Lost Dutchman Mine ("The Killer Mountains," 1968) to his Hoover biography ("J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets," 1991) were always carefully researched and beautifully written.
"Helter Skelter," written with Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. The Hoover biography won a PEN award for the best nonfiction book of 1991.
The Los Angeles Times called "J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets" "an absolutely fascinating study of the man who ran the Federal Bureau of Investigation for half a century."
The Chronicle called it "a blockbuster." The New York Times said it presented Hoover as a man with "an unrelentingly harsh profile in vindictiveness and egocentricity."
The Hoover book took 15 years to write. Mr. Gentry interviewed hundreds of former FBI agents and reviewed 100,000 pages of previously classified information.
Mr. Gentry told then-Chronicle book editor Patricia Holt that before the Hoover book he had been turning out a book every nine months for 11 years, "complete with post-partum depression."
The Hoover book was his last. After that, Mr. Gentry wrote articles and started various projects, including unfinished biographies of Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and John Steinbeckand a book on the origins of Las Vegas, said Tony Dingman, who was a friend for over 40 years.
"He was the perfect guy to do that book," Dingman said of the Las Vegas project. "It would have been great. Curt was the real deal, and people trusted him to tell their stories."
Curt Gentry was born in Lamar, Colo., in June 1931. "He always said Lamar was one stop west of Dodge City," Dingman said.
He served in the Air Force during the Korean War, mostly as a writer on the Pacific Stars and Stripes newspaper in Tokyo.
After military service, he attended the University of Colorado and then San Francisco State College. He stayed in San Francisco and became a professional writer.
Among his books was "The Last Days of the Late, Great State of California," a novel featuring a giant earthquake that caused California to slide into the ocean. He wrote "The Madams of San Francisco" (1964), an irreverent look at the city's past.
He took a look at the noted Tom Mooney case in "The Frame-Up," which told how the government blamed labor leaders Mooney and Warren K. Billings for a terrorist bomb attack that killed 10 people in San Francisco in 1916.
He also wrote a book about the U-2 spy case, involving pilot Francis Gary Powers, and another about the 1968 capture of the USS Pueblo by North Korean forces.
Mr. Gentry was friendly with many of the city's writers, particularly Richard Brautigan, and loved to talk about books. "He could talk about anything," said Dingman. "We talked about books, we talked about spy craft - he was interested in everything."
Mr. Gentry is survived by a brother, Pat Gentry of Novato.
At Mr. Gentry's request, there will be no services.
"He hated funerals, but he deserves a tribute, so we're going to do something anyway," Dingman said. It will be held sometime in August at Gino & Carlo, his favorite North Beach bar.
Carl Nolte is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail:


MrPoirot said...

Curt Gentry is why Bug's book was a massive seller. His editing made many a best seller in the 60s and 70s. Bug had never written a book before HS. Read Bug's books after HS where he had no editor and you can see the difference. Bug was a masterful attorney but an average writer. Curt Gentry was a masterful editor.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Many copies of "Helter Skelter" have been sold over the years.

I have to wonder what percentage of those sales Gentry received. (As compared to Bugliosi)

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Did Gentry ever participate in any interviews or follow-up commentary(s) regarding the "Helter Skelter" book, or the topic of TLB in general??

Personally, I've never seen any interview footage of Gentry, speaking on the subject.

If anyone has any video links featuring Gentry, please share them.

Kimchi said...

I read a comment on sfgate that said:

"i had the pleasure of meeting Curt at a party at his house on Russian Hill. He was a sweet, charming man and it pained him that Bugliosi grabbed the credit for writing Helter Skelter. Curt was the writer, the other guy wasn't."

MrPoirot said...

I first heard of Curt Gentry before TLB happened because he edited Green Bay Packer great Jerry Kramer's first book on the great Lombardi teams of the 60s. In high school I wore no 64 because it was Jerry Kramer's number.
Gentry also edited Johnny Sample's book on football. Sample played on Joe Namath's 69 super bowl winning team.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

(((((-----KIMCHI-----))))) said...

Kimchi, Curt told me the same thing, that he, not Bugliosi, wrote HS

Kimchi said...

Hi Lynyrd!

I would have loved to have to talked to Mr. Gentry - I would also love to have his library of notes from 1969-1972....

I was in SF last week, tried to visit North Beach, check out some hangouts there... I should have realized it was a Saturday in July, one hour to drive 1 mile....drove around the block 6 times, said F#@%k more said :-)

For you guys on the East Coast, it would be = to Coney Island or Atlantic City in the summer..

Kimchi said...

Hi Cielo Drive!

Yes, I just hope he got rich off it like Mr. B did....

I have no idea what his commission was....

That's a subject Leary should investigate, lol..

katie8753 said...

Hi Kimchi!

I'm wondering if Curt was the one who took all the notes in investigating this case.

I would think that would be Vince. He worked for hours on this case. Now who wrote it? I don't know. But I would think it would be based on the notations.

Just asking...

sunset77 said...

I basically have nothing on Curt Gentry.

I did read he wrote a book about Francis Gary Powers, the U-2 pilot that was shot down over the Soviet Union. I did read in an excerpt something I didn't realize, apparently Powers had a "poison pin" hidden inside a silver dollar he was supposed to use to kill himself in the event he was shot down. Obviously, Powers didn't use the pin and that was one of the reasons he was shunned by the CIA when he returned to the US after being traded for a Soviet spy.

When I worked as a roofer in DC, I went in a store that sold military memorabilia. They had a camera lens in there they claimed was from a U-2, they wanted $750 for it, I had to pass.

Rest in Peace, Curt Gentry.

Kimchi said...

Hi Katie -

I read somewhere that Gentry was allowed carte blanch to the trial - so it was speculated that Mr. B had a deal with him way before the book was written..I can't name sources, just stuff I read here and there...

What's going thru my mind is Charlie bitching all these years about this book and the movie and how much money Mr. B made off this - to now hear that Curt Gentry wrote this---and all this...

I dunno, gotta think about this a few days, lol....

I still want Gentry's notes~~~

katie8753 said...

Thanks Kimchi. Charlie bitching about money made. That's sound like the pot calling the kettle black. I would think that Charlie would be mad about money made no matter who made it. Do you think he'd be mad if Curt made the money?

I have no idea who took all those notes, but I'm surmising that Vincent did. Usually a DA does the investigation.

But of course, I wasn't there, so I don't know for sure. Anyway, thanks for your super input. You're always appreciated here!

Sunset, you rule!! :)

MrPoirot said...

Gary Powers died in a tv news helicopter crash in Los Angelos. said...

My understanding from Curt was that Vince gave him all his case files, notes, etc. and then Curt turned out the book.

katie8753 said...

Thanks Cielo! So from what I'm understanding, Vince gave all his notes, interviews and opinions on this case to Curt, and Curt wrote the book?

So how is Curt solely responsible? I would think the data you based the book on is the only reliable source. Is there another?

Am I misunderstanding something???

katie8753 said...

And another thing before I hang my hat, everyone keeps saying that Bugliosi's book is crappola, nonsense and downright evil.

So is that Vince's fault, or Curt's?

Just wondering. You can't have it both ways.

Bluestocking said...

Curt was a personal friend. His notes and research were impressive on all his work. He was also very witty and had a terrific sense of humor. He said covering the Manson trial was creepy. That the girls kept trying to meet up with him outside the courtroom but he didn't think that was such a great idea. He also said aside from Charlie, he was the only man in the courtroom with a beard. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer just before Christmas 2012. He fought a good fight. I miss him terribly already.

katie8753 said...

Hi Bluestocking. I'm sorry for your loss!

leary7 said...

Hi Kimchi...sadly me research skills are mediocre. DebS and CarolMR and many others are much better at finding info.

That said, it saddens me greatly that there isn't more on Curt. Imagine being the "real" writer of the best selling true crime book of all time and being an afterthought. And it sounds like Curt was a genuinely great guy. I wish I'd known him just for all his sports info and connections. I read that Jerry Kramer book as a kid and remember loving it. Man, I wish Brian Davis or someone had tapped into Curt before he passed.
Does Bluestocking have any idea if Curt donated his papers to a college or anything?
And who exactly could investigate the financial breakdown of HS profits? It would have to be a forensic accountant or something. Now that is a skill I wish I had.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...


It's great to see you!
It's always a pleasure to have your input!

Great website, by the way!

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Welcome Bluestocking!

Thanks for your input, and please accept my sincere sympathies on the loss of your friend.

By all accounts, it seems Mister Gentry was an upstanding man.

leary7 said...

With Curt's passing though, it does give pause to the thought of who you would like to talk to the most for the TLB story. Here's my short list, just for the hell of it.
1. Ruth Ann. Yeah, she is drop dead beautiful but that is not the reason. I just have a gut feeling she grew into an interesting person. And we haven't heard a peep from her in forty odd years. It would be such a treat to hear her perspective.
2. Stephanie. I just find her incredibly well-spoken. And though she was a short-timer she did get an engagement ring from Charlie.
3. Cappy. She reminds me of the Last Man Standing - a true blue warrior. And unlike Ruth Ann and Spephanie, I think Cappy may just still have some dark streaks in her psyche.
4. Nancy. She still gives me the chills but she's got to have stories. Her marriage (?) to Bruce in Vegas and their honeymoon in the LA sewers is a tale I'd love to hear.
5. Lyn. The Squeakster has her charms. She is just daffy fun.
6. Gypsy. Just because of her intelligence.
Sandy. Never. Ever. You couldn't pay me enough to talk to her.
Sue Bartell. I just liked her latest photo over on Liz's. She looks like a true funkster.

There are others but I am boring myself at this point.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Hi Leary,

I'm very happy that you're feeling better... and that you're once again, able to join us.
As always, it's a pleasure having you.

I was reading about your health issues the other day (on a previous thread), and I simply didn't have enough time to respond appropriately.
(My personal life has been ridiculously busy lately.)

I wish you all the best my brother, and of course, a very speedy recovery.

Please accept my sincere apologies for this belated response.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...


Thanks for the thread.
Good job!

leary7 said...

all good L/S. I fight if only to outlive Charlie. I'm just to curious to see if he's got something dramatic planned for an exit.
you're right, great thread by Starship. We're going to be seeing a whole lot more of these. Vince can't be to far behind.

We all need to lobby bluestocking for more info. Did HS at least make Curt financially sound and free? I can't imagine selling 7-8 millions books and not being set financially.

MrPoirot said...

Leary, Hillary, just made $8mil for selling 160,000 books. Top that!

Leary that Jerry Kramer book "Instant Replay" which Gentry edited was a best seller.
There was a funny story Kramer told in that book. Kramer was talking about a team mate who grew up on a farm in Iowa in the 50s. The two of them walked inside Yankee Stadium for the first time the day before the game. Kramer was in silent awe of the famed arena.
His farm boy team mate whispered, "boy, I bet you could store a lot of hay in this place".

Bluestocking said...

Thank you for the kind welcomes. Curt has many, many friends from all walks of life. His family is very sensitive to how important his work is- especially the unfinished pieces. I am confident they will find a good home for his papers. If I hear anything, I'll share. He was a huge presence in North Beach before he became ill. Decades ago, he had a circle of single male friends who hung out at Gino and Carlos they must have terrorized the women in and around Coit Tower. I know one of them is putting together a wake at G&C sometime in the coming weeks. There's a FB page on this historic bar. @LynyrdSkynyrdBand, Curt has done myriad interviews when the Hoover book came out. I was a little young to remember if it was the same with HS. Also, I don't think that sort of coverage was so common 40 years ago as it is now. I think a little internet sleuthing may yield some results for you. Curt was indeed an outstanding man and a delightful friend for many, many years. When I brought my new beau, now longtime husband to meet him, Curt was just finishing the Hoover book. My male friend thought "hah, that's one that will go to the discount tables fast." He still laughs about how wrong he was. said...

Hi Lynyrd, thx for the kind words!

Vera Dreiser said...

Sorry, but Curt was a coward. He perpetrated the lie when he knew that's exactly what it was.

Unknown said...

I'm sure Gentry did most of the real Work but I can detect some of Bugliosi's need to put down others while building Himself up when the Book goes into the Police Departments incompetence.
You can find the same snide kind of 'I'm so much smarter than these Idiots' Attitude in His JFK Book 'Reclaiming History'.

Unknown said...

Its like He can't help Himself...

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Vera said:
"Sorry, but Curt was a coward. He perpetrated the lie when he knew that's exactly what it was."

I don't know Vera...

Here we are... almost a half-century removed from the original crimes... and try as we might... not one of us, has been able to "prove" an alternate motive.

My point:
At the time of writing, it's very possible that Gentry may have simply assumed (like most people, of the time), that Bugliosi's interpretation (and presentation) was accurate.

Bear in mind, Vincent Bugliosi WAS the chief prosecutor... and as bizarre as "Helter Skelter" seems to us now, it WAS successful in jailing these criminals.
Those two facts alone, would carry some weight, with the average layperson.
(I don't believe Gentry was a lawyer, judge or police investigator... hence, my characterization of Gentry, as a "layperson").

The jury evidently "bought" Helter Skelter... as did, many others at the time.
How can you say for sure, WHAT Gentry knew or believed, 4 decades ago???

For the record:
I don't believe, that Bugliosi's "Helter Skelter" was challenged on a very large scale, until the 1980's, or even the 1990's.
Heck... in 1976, the famous "tv movie" about "Helter Skelter" was aired on major television stations, during prime-time.
(That "tv movie" aired fairly regularly for many years after that, as well)

You might be right Vera.
Gentry may have been aware of alternate motives (at the time of writing).
But then again... you might be wrong.
You can't know for sure.
None of us can.
We can't turn back the clock several decades, and crawl inside Gentry's head.

I respect your opinion... but, that's all it is.
You can't "prove" what Gentry did (or didn't) know, at the time of writing.


LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...





MrPoirot said...

One thing I've learned about this whole saga over the years is that if you try to use logic to explain it; that is a mistake.

Kimchi said...

LSB said:

"At the time of writing, it's very possible that Gentry may have simply assumed (like most people, of the time), that Bugliosi's interpretation (and presentation) was accurate."

Nicely stated!

And still believed as truth by the general public....99.999%

Vera, you're a rude punk!

sunset77 said...

Apparently, the Manson case just keeps right on going. I watched the original movie in 1976 on the CBS Late Movie. I think it came on at like 11:30 pm Eastern time. I watched the CBS Late Movie semi often back in those days. I'm pretty sure Helter Skelter 1976 originally aired in 2 parts, what I remember is that after I watched the first part, I wanted to make very sure I wasn't doing anything else so I seen the second part.

Steve Railsback played Manson in that movie, I sent him an e-mail and got a brief reply. He talked about some other movie he was in, I think about Ed Gein or some other killer. One night I ran across the web page of a woman that designed some of the sets for that movie, she didn't reply to an e-mail. The film can still be found online here--->Helter Skelter.

The Manson Direct website recently uploaded an interview with Irving Kanarek who was a defense attorney for Manson. Kanarek is apparently 94 years old now, "It wasn't a difficult decision to take the Manson case. My purpose was to fight legally admissible evidence, and the amount of that was scant. His guilt was based on a few hearsay words, inadmissible in court, that he supposedly told this guy to do a number on the Tate residence. No question he was legally innocent. And, more than that, he was actually innocent. There was no evidence connecting him to those murders." That can be seen on-->Manson Direct.

Finally, MichaelsBackporchtapes YouTube channel recently uploaded a rare song of Charles Manson-->Devil's Canyon Charles Manson music spot across from Spahn's Ranch.

leary7 said...

as usual, dead on bobby. Thanks Kimchi, you said it. why idiots come on here to denounce good people they have no clue about is beyond me. You don't like HS, fine. But calling someout out with the coward tag (and a recently deceased person at that) is just plain below scum level.
not cool, not cool at all.

katie8753 said...

Hey Vera. Which lie were you talking about?

louis365 said...

NOW is the Time

Chris B said...

Curt gentry also enters into the Manson saga as being the person who confided to Bugliosi (July 1971?) that he had heard rumours about a planned breakout, prior to the Hawthorne Shootout.

MrPoirot said...

Paul Watkins mentions in his book that "the breakout" was mentioned. Cops came to Spahn and asked Brenda about a breakout but she didn't know anything about it.

"The breakout" may have been just wishful thinking spoken out loud.

MrPoirot said...

The real "Breakout" was Como's escape from the top story jail later in the 70s.
Como was swinging out the windows from the 12th floor on a bed spread! Fricken Crazy!!!! LOL!

Then Como swings through a glass window and crashes into the inside of the 11th floor and ran out the window. Sandy or Gypsy-I forget who-picked him up in a van but got caught by cops.

Personally if I had been the cop that caught Como and he told me he swung out the 12th floor window on a bed sheet I would have been so amazed and impressed I would have let him go.

The Como escape may have been dreamed up by Manson years earlier. Maybe this is what Gentry heard about.

MrPoirot said...

Maybe Charlie wasn't dumb enough to swing from the 12th floor window by a bed sheet?

Even the brilliant and arrogant Bugliosi said he knew better than to underestimate Charlie's intelligence.
I never heard Bug say Como was intelligent.

CarolMR said...

Hi, Leary. So glad you are feeling better. I can't find anything about how much money Mr. Gentry made from HELTER SKELTER, but I did find this from the LA Times:

"Gentry conducted extensive interviews with Bugliosi and reviewed thousands of pages of trial transcripts to help the prosecutor produce what Time magazine critic Paul Gray called 'a valuable book on a lurid subject … a record of savagery and official bungling.' The New York Times praised the authors for telling the tale 'in the language of a D.A.: methodical, tight, occasionally ironical and rising to emotional pitch only on rare occasions.'

“All I want is the facts, ma'am' -- Curt was that type of writer... He had a way of telling people they were going to be surprised without telling them what it was.”
- Former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, who co-wrote "Helter Skelter" with Curt Gentry.

The book won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America and, with 7 million copies sold, remains one of the most widely read works of true crime in American publishing history."

louis365 said...


sunset77 said...

I ran across and excerpt that might be from the book "Helter Skelter", I haven't read it for years, much of the website is in Russian:

"In late July of 1971 my co-author learned from a Family member in the San Francisco Bay Area that the Family was planning to break out Manson sometime within the next month. Though he was not told how they intended to accomplish this, he was given some additional details: the Family was stockpiling arms and ammunition; they had secretly rented a house in South Los Angeles and were hiding an escaped convict there; and with Manson's escape "Helter Skelter will really start; the revolution will be on."

I'm guessing the "escaped convict" was Kenneth Como, he possibly escaped police custody 6 times according to a news article.

Anyway, it seems possible someone was giving Gentry "partial" inside info about Manson family plans, who then gave it to Bugliosi, who then passed it on to police.

That excerpt can be read-->HERE.

katie8753 said...

Sunset said: "they had secretly rented a house in South Los Angeles and were hiding an escaped convict there; and with Manson's escape "Helter Skelter will really start; the revolution will be on."

Why do people call Helter Skelter a lie? It's obviously what Charlie had been preaching! Jeeezzzz!

Chris B said...

Speaking of authors, I didn't realise that Lawrence Schiller is still about and has a website.

Apart from cobbling together Atkin's first book, he also appeared as a witness during the penalty phase of the the TLB trial in 1971.

Chris B said...

Katie, just for fun I've been looking into Helter Skelter and its uses before 1970.

The Schiller article and Killing of Sharon Tate, Life magazine and Five to Die, do not mention it.

DEC 5 1969 Atkins tells the grand jury: I’d like to say the words came from his mouth that helter-skelter was to be the last war on the face of the earth. It would be all the wars that have ever been fought built one on top of the other, something that no man could conceive of in his imagination. You can’t conceive of what it would be like to see every man judge himself and then take it out on every other man all over the face of the earth.

NOV 25 1969 Ronnie Howard is interviewed by police and says: Uh huh, yeah she said where is some song out, helter skelter or something. It means, most everyone, I guess, in the group knows what helter skelter means. It is supposed to be like their new movement, you know... It means you have to die in order to live, you know.

OCT 3 1969 Brooks Poston tells police: And that Helter Skelter – that’s what he calls the negro revolt. He says the negros are going revolt and kill all the white men, except the ones that are hiding in the desert. And he said it was getting worse and worse, and that he wanted to hide in the desert.
And that, when Helter Skelter comes down, that, the cities are gonna be mass hysteria and the cops won’t know what to do – the piggies he calls them. And that, the beast will fall, and the black man will take over.

OCT 3 1969 Paul Crockett tells police: And so Charlie has set up the whole thing, it’s kind of like a story book. It’s all working out just like he said it was. And so he was going to have his problems. He said helter skelter is coming down. The only helter skelter that I can see is the helter skelter that he’s built in his own mind, that he’s created for himself. And all the people that are with him. And to him, that will be helter skelter and it will come down.

Bearing in mind OCT 3 1969 no one has been arrested for anything.

sunset77 said...

If anyone doesn't know, a "helter skelter" is a British term for a carnival type ride where people climb up the center of a windmill looking thing without the blades, and slide down a spiral slide around the outside. It's also called a "tornado slide". The Beatles wrote a song about it:

"When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide
And I stop and I turn and I go for a ride
And I get to the bottom and I see you again"-Helter Skelter-The Beatles

I think John Lennon said later something like "it wasn't about knifing guys".

My personal opinion is whether or not Charles Manson was preaching some delusions about that song is mostly immaterial to murder. From what I can gather, Charles Watson and various other members of the so called "Manson family" committed the murders, not Charles Manson.

If a delusional person commits a murder and says "Jesus told me to do it", the police don't go that guys church and arrest his preacher, (usually).

There is a big difference between talking about murder and committing murder. If every murderer was allowed to blame someone else, and claim "so and so told me to do it" for whatever reason, everyone would be in prison.

katie8753 said...

Thanks Chris! It's obvious that Manson was talking about Helter Skelter long before they moved to the desert. That was his excuse to move there.

Sunset, we all know that the Beatles song Helter Skelter was about a slide, and Charlie's version was about killing.

That's really a moot point. Charlie could have used the song "Mary Had a Little Lamb" to get people to kill. And Charlie sure as heck isn't Jesus.

And if a person tells others to commit murder, then that person is guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, just as guilty as the murderers.

And that's how the story ended. I'm not sure what "lie" is being attributed to this book.


leary7 said...

thnks CarolMR. Man, I gotta meet a forensics accountant someday. There are just so many money questions that remain around crimes and their aftermath. Maybe said accountant could even verify the rumor that Lynyrd is a millionare mogul.

MrPoirot said...

Because the book and the movie were named Helter Skelter and Charlie presched an Armageddon philosophy he said he got from that Beatle White album some people think all the murders were committed with the single motive called HS by Vinny Bugliosi. This is not true.
In the book HS and in Bugliosi's opening statement at the trial he clearly states there were many complicated motives. Bug never says HS was the single motive.

In late 68 Charlie's schizophrenia began to exhibit worsening symptoms. Charlie began to turn violent and extremely paranoid. His peace and love, hippie Guru style changed to a violent style.

This violent, paranoid ideology that Charlie dreamed up in his mentally deteriated state of mind is the Helter Skelter part.

During the period of Charlie's mental collapse in 68-69 he ordered his most devoted cult members to go kill some people.

MrPoirot said...

There were specific causes for each murder but all the murders were committed because a crazed cult leader ordered them to be committed. Charlie had trained them to be violent. They all trained with knives and guns.

Hinman was a robbery.
Cielo was multiple: Charlie was mad at Melcher, Bobby was busted for murder, Sandy and Mary were busted for credit fraud. Charlie's anger became incredibly intense; murderously intense at the rapid response society and police were exhibiting towards Charlie and his Family. Charlie ordered murders in retaliation.
Labianca was a continuation of Cielo.
Shorty's murder was revenge for the Aug 16 raid.

MrPoirot said...

All of this ideology and murder fit under the ideological umbrella that was named Helter Skelter.

katie8753 said...

Mr. P, I couldn't have said it better!!! You've outlined everything that we've all been arguing about in a few paragraphs.

KUDOS to you!!! :)

Unknown said...

Helter Skelter

One of my all time favorite books. Along with The Amityville Horror- it is one of only two books which have ever scared me as much as a movie. This book both put me in the moment several times in an extremely uncomfortable way, and also laid out the timelines and facts in a methodical and linear manner.

The Story itself was unlike any I had ever read, and sparked a life long obsession with the times and areas asssocaited with the plot.

For many years, on many sites,with many people- I have debated the validity of those two words as possible motive for the TLB crimes. I dont know if, at the end of the day, it was the motive or not....

I do not know if Curtis Gentry really believed it or not.

I do know that he was brought in to do a specific piece of work, and after all these years of reading and re-reading that work - I am facinated by,frightened of, and forever grateful for- the excellent work he did...

While we kill each other over the why- we should take a momnet to appreciate the job they did of telling the who, what , where, and when.

To me it doesn't get much better.

RIP Mr. Gentry

Your Favorite Saint

katie8753 said...

Hi Saint! Good to see you!!

I agree, that movie was very scary. It was unnerving to see how they could do something so horrendous then act so callous and flippant about it. Like they were soul-less zombies.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Saint said:
"While we kill each other over the why- we should take a moment to appreciate the job they did of telling the who, what , where, and when."

That is one of the most poignant statements that I've read (on any blog), in a very long time.

Great statement Saint!


poign·ant [póynyənt]: sharply perceptive. particularly penetrating and effective or relevant

MrPoirot said...

One of the motives in Hinman's murder was his threat to Bobby to go to the cops. Motive #1.
But robbery was why they were there. That is a 2nd motive.
Both Hinman and Bobby were drug dealers. There was a dispute over drugs. That's a third motive.
Don't forget Cappy had told somebody Hinman had just inherited $20K for a 4th motive.
Would Bobby had killed Hinman in the identical situation a year earlier? No. Charlie was not preaching violence to Bobby and slinging knives a year earlier(Helter Skelter motive).

There is FIVE MOTIVES from just this one murder and Tate-Labianca is still two weeks away. We will have more motives appear at TLB murders and then more motives again at Shea's murder.

These people were killing for a lot of reasons. They even killed for no reason at all because they had been brainwashed to kill.(Helter Skelter)

There's probably 20-30 motives behind these murders.

MrPoirot said...

Oops. I left out a sixth motive for Hinman's murder. Charlie is going completely insane. Bobby has no idea that Charlie had been diagnosed twice before as being schizophrenic. Charlie's schizophrenia was still dormant just a few months earlier. In july 69 Bobby has no idea he is taking orders from a man twice his age who has suddenly gone mad.

leary7 said...

Oh happy day, the Saint speaks.

It does boggle the mind the venom and antipathy some have for Vince and Curt and of course Helter Skelter. The words Helter Skelter were written in blood, and on a door at Spahn. And HS was talked about by folk like Springer, Jakkobson and others who were not core members.

As I have said before, the key word for me in the TLB story however is "pigs". It was written in one form or another at all three murder scenes. And one of my favorite quotes - Ouisch saying to Donkey Dan at Barker, "I can't wait to off my first pig".
Charlie hated the rich and successful the same way Hitler hated the Jews. Hitler was able to elevate the anti-semitism that had been prevelant in German culture for centuries to a new level, sometimes referred to as "extinction anti-semitism". Charlie, in effect, did the exact same thing with his followers - he elevated their anti-establishment feelings to a militant point where they actually felt justified in their killing.
What I remain most curious about, and what I would give all my savings to know, is how many still feel that TLB was justified. I know Squeaky felt that way right up through the 80's. And Cappy seemed to insinuate she still believed the Family had done no wrong.
It would be nice to know, to say the least.

MrPoirot said...

Charlie and Stephy Schram went to Schram's sister's house in San Diego the night before Charlie sent his people off to Cielo to kill. While eating dinner with Stephany's sis and hubby during the meal; Charlie told everyone present at the dinner table about the coming race war(helter skelter). Stephany's sister, who wasn't a core Family member in any way; testified about this dinner table race war story at the trial.
Was Helter Skelter the single reason Charlie sent killers to Cielo? No!
I don't believe that the people who claim Helter Skelter was a fairy tale made up by Bugliosi are deliberately denying that HS is fact out of malevolance. They are merely misled by where their sympathies lie.

katie8753 said...

Mr. P., Stephanie's sister was aghast at Charlie's blabbering about race wars. She pretty much ran him off with a broom.

In reality, what you've laid out is true. Charlie was just pissed off and wanted to kill pigs to show the world that he somehow mattered. But you can put the Helter Skelter in there somewhere. It fits.

Oh, and there are some who would have you believe that Charlie wasn't at Spahn's on August 8th, but they are dead wrong. He was there alright, blowing his top and giving orders to his minions.

katie8753 said...

You know what's ironic and hilarious?

Of all the Presidents that Charlie could ask to help him to get out of prison, he picked Obama. After preaching that there would be a race war between the whites and blacks, and blackie would win, but would be so stupid that he couldn't run the country, and would have to ask whitey (Charlie) to run the country.


MrPoirot said...

Interesting comments by Leary about "pigs".
Looking at Hinman's murder and the many motives as to why Hinman was attacked: did Hinman become a pig in Charlie's eyes? Had Hinman's persona in Charlie and the Family's eyes changed? Had Hinman gone from hippie friend to enemy pig?
The Family believed he had inherited $20K. Hinman owned a house.
Bobby even said to Hinman he was doing him a favor by killing him. Had Bobby been brainwashed into hating pigs? Yes.
Would Bobby have said that to Hinman in July 68; five mos prior to Charlie hearing the voices of armageddon coming off the White Album? No.

katie8753 said...

Mr. P, Gary Hinman didn't go from friend to pig. Gary went from friend to "non friend".

Gary Hinman had gone down a different road. A road to Buddhist peace. Gary was trying to rid himself of user people like Manson who broke the laws, took drugs and sucked people dry.

Gary was trying to reach Nirvana. And he couldn't possibly reach it with joke-boys like Manson poking him all the time. He was trying to rid himself of these leeches.

BTW, he was supposed to have inherited $5000, not $20,000.

katie8753 said...

Charlie was a "friend"? Get outta here!

What did Charlie ever give back to anyone. He sucked Dennis Wilson dry like a ripe tomato, and what did he offer as a friend? Some stupid weird cantra? That anyone with half a brain would dismiss with a shudder? Or did he offer some ripe tomatoes of his own? Some blackened vaginas that were so diseased that they were building germs upon germs.

How was Charlie a friend to anyone? Please tell me, I'd really like to know.

katie8753 said...

Another thing of interest...Mary said that she and Susan went to Gary's house alone, and once they got in, they were supposed to signal Bobby that the coast was clear and he could come in.

So Bobby came in uninvited. There are probably lots of reasons that Gary didn't want Bobby in his house. But my guess is, he didn't trust him.

MrPoirot said...

When you get into the area of Bobby and Gary's personal get-a-long status at the time of the murder that is a grey area where ive read hundreds of discussions where opinions differ. Why do they differ? Because it isn't known if Gary delt defective mescaline to Bobby or not. Bobby says he did but is Bobby telling the truth? Well that is the grey area.

A better question than was there bad mescaline involved is, "what was Gary's reaction when he saw Bobby was in his house". I would think his ears stood up not because he thought Bobby was there to kill him or hurt him but because he must have realized instantly Mary and Sadie set him up for something.

louis365 said...


Was Helter Skelter the single reason Charlie sent killers to Cielo?

C'mon Mr. P., Charlie is a Party Guy. Neil Young partied with Manson, over 40 years ago, and he's still talking about it!

Charlie sent Tex et al to Cielo to party!! But an argument broke out, people started running around, things got out of hand, and well, I guess you could say, things went Helter Skelter.

MrPoirot said...

Cielo had a shitload of reasons.

MrPoirot said...

I read where the Dems want Gov Jerry Brown to run for prez.
I think Bruce needs to forget about being released because of that.
I think this is a textbook example of what a political prisoner is: when a politician's decisions are based on what is best for him instead of society or the inmate.
I've never liked Bruce but I believe in the rule of law. I think Bruce is ready to be released.

Dilligaf said...

One can believe that any of the killers are now "political" prisoners, but absent proof, it is only a belief. It is possible that a governor can run for office, and deny parole for someone without the two being connected. However, given that a governor is an elected position, than everything a governor does, is by definition, "political". In this case however, the punishment is still fitting the crime...

MrPoirot said...

50 year prison sentences are pointless for all but a few criminals. At some point we are keeping people in prison who have atoned and rehabilitated to the point that they don't resemble the person they were many decades ago.
In Europe they are looking at ending exceptionally long sentences because these long stays rarely have a logical reason to continue incaceration.
It sounds good to sentence a heinously acting killer to life at age 25 but 45 years later it doesn't look so good.

Dilligaf said...

Mr. P,

When we look at life sentences, they are typically given to those who have demonstrated a callous disregard for society through their actions. How do you rehabilitate a murderer? Do you believe that the killer did not know killing was wrong, but through rehabilitation, the killer know understands?

I really do not care what European countries do in regard to sentencing, as it has no bearing on the U.S., however I do believe that some acts are henious enough to warrant punishment that includes a loss of freedom, or life. Society demands that of our penal system, and until Society changes its mind on that, I am okay with it. Waht is a human life worth in your opinion? If someone were to remove one of your loved ones from the face of this Earth forever, never to feel the embrace of you, talk to you, laugh with you, cry with you, do you really believe that removing the killer for a mere 25 years equals punishment for eliminating someone's existence forever?

MrPoirot said...

I see your point Dillg. There's a guy now in S California who killed at least ten women. He already has one death penalty. Certainly he should never see the street again. Nor should Tex or Charlie.
The US and Europe now have significant prison populations of senior citizens.
There are shoplifters in prison who get released and then commit murders. Releasing no inmate is a safe thing.
Keeping inmates incarcerated 40-50 years is something that needs reconsideration. Some are fit to be released and some aren't.
These long term incarcerations are not something we can continue to do. This is really a new issue for society. It's very expensive to incarcerate the elderly.
Clem was as vicious as any of the killers at Spahns and he has done a fine lob with his life on the outside. I do believe Clem now knows he did wrong and he changed his ways.
Does this mean we don't miss Shorty? No.

louis365 said...

AC/DC has recently revealed Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap-Was written for Tex! et al.

louis365 said...

Clem is the dummy of the group....but he's out.

katie8753 said...

Bruce Davis is right where he belongs....