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Charles Manson TV Movie Helter Skelter Premiered 45 Years Ago Today

  • On April 1, 1976, CBS premiered Part 1 of the made-for-television movie Helter Skelter, about the Charles Manson Family murders, with Part 2 airing the following night. It was only five years after Manson's trial had resulted in a death sentence, and four years after California outlawed the death penalty. The title was taken from the Beatles song of the same name, which was scrawled in blood at one of the murder scenes, as it was a term that Manson would use to refer to his belief in an inevitable race war.

    In this clip, Manson (Steve Railsback) has insisted on testifying on his own behalf, and this is the wild and fiery speech he gives while on the stand, blaming society for making him what he is, claiming that "the people you call my family were people you didn't want," and yelling about how much he wants to beat people to death because "that's what you deserve."

    The broadcast was the most-watched TV movie of all time until it was surpassed in 1983 by The Day After, and it was nominated for three Emmy Awards.

    Andy Hunsaker has a head full of sitcom gags and nerd-genre lore, and can be followed @AndyHunsaker if you're into that sort of thing.

    TOPICS: Helter Skelter (1976 TV Movie), CBS, Charles Manson, Steve Railsback