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Charles Manson's enduring legacy
How Manson has profited as the legend of the "Helter Skelter" killings has grown

"Feel-good nostalgia tells us that 1969 was the height of the hippie, warm-fuzzy era of peace and love," said Murray Whyte in the Toronto Star, but Charles Manson's "stamp on the culture is arguably deeper and more lasting" than even Woodstock's. Forty years ago, "puppetmaster" Manson orchestrated "a generation's defining criminal atrocity"—the "Helter Skelter" killings in Los Angeles, Calif., during which director Roman Polanski's pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was among those murdered. To this day, "legions of gawkers" still make a "macabre pilgrimage" to the scene of the crime.

"Long after his capture and incarceration," said Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly, Charles Manson's legend "has only kept growing." Even though he is "the hippie-psycho cult-killer equivalent of Adolf Hitler," he is a huge part of popular culture—his "dark" image has become "as larger-than-life as that of Che Guevara." Maybe what still holds our fascination is the way that Manson convinced a group of "smiling middle-class achievers and homecoming queens" to commit such atrocious murders.

"There are still those who are mesmerized by this evil maverick," said Ivor Davis in the Daily Mail, and "the story of the Manson murders has grown into something of a monster cottage industry." As sick as it is, "there is a huge demand for Manson memorabilia," and Manson has reportedly "become the richest prisoner in the California system, raking in a small fortune by running a lucrative autograph business from behind bars."

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