Abigail Folger: Wikis

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Abigail Folger
Born August 11, 1943(1943-08-11)
San Francisco, California
Died August 9, 1969 (aged 25)
Los Angeles, California
Occupation Heiress, Social worker
Religion Roman Catholic

Abigail Anne "Gibby" Folger (August 11, 1943 – August 9, 1969) was an American coffee heiress, debutante, socialite, volunteer social worker, civil rights devotee and member of the prominent United States Folger family. She was the great-great-granddaughter of J. A. Folger, the founder of Folgers Coffee. She is also known as one of the murder victims of the Manson Family.

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Early life

Folger was born in San Francisco, California. Her parents were Peter Folger, Chairman and President of the Folger Coffee Company, and Ines "Pui" Mejia (June 25, 1907–July 15, 2007), the youngest child of Gertrude and Encarnacion Mejia, a consul general of El Salvador. Her Roman Catholic parents divorced in 1952 when she was still young, after her mother ended the marriage on the grounds of extreme cruelty. In 1960, her father married again, this time to his 24-year-old private secretary, Beverly Mater.

Growing up in San Francisco, Folger was raised in the closed tradition of San Francisco society. As a young girl she was interested in art, books, poetry and playing the piano. Close friends and family called her 'Gibby'.

Folger attended the Santa Catalina School for Girls in Monterey, California, near Carmel. She graduated with honors in June 1961. She then matriculated at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the fall of 1961. During her stay at Radcliffe she became an active member of the college's Gilbert and Sullivan Players, a musical theatre group. She starred in two of its productions, starting with The Sorcerer in April 1963 where she played the part of one of the town's villagers. In December 1963 she starred in The Gondoliers as one of the Contadine. She graduated with honors from Radcliffe College in 1964.

While a freshman in college, she became a debutante on December 21, 1961 at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, where she made her official debut into San Francisco's high society. Her debutante ball was one of the highlights of the social season, with Folger wearing a bright yellow Christian Dior gown that she had purchased in Paris the previous summer.

After graduating from Radcliffe, she enrolled in the fall of 1964 at Harvard University, also in Cambridge, where she did graduate work and received a degree in Art History. After graduating in the spring of 1967, she took a job at the University of California Art Museum in Berkeley, California as a publicity director. While employed there, her main job was to organize the fine art museum council.

New York City

In September 1967, Folger decided to move away from California in order to find herself and to probe the other side of life. She soon made the move to New York City, where she got a job working for a magazine publisher. She eventually left for a job at the Gotham Book Mart on 47th Street. While living in New York, she lived well beneath her means. As the daughter of an incredibly wealthy family, Folger's annual income from her inheritances, after taxes, was $130,000 a year (the equivalent of $838,193 a year in 2009 dollars).

It was at a bookstore party in December 1967 where she met Polish author Jerzy Kosinski, who was married to American steel heiress Mary Hayward Weir. Weir ran in the same wealthy circle as Folger, and it was she who introduced Kosinski to Folger. In early January 1968, Kosinski introduced Folger to his friend, aspiring writer Wojciech Frykowski, at a party and the two hit it off. Frykowski had been living in the United States for one month at the time.

Folger and Frykowski

Frykowski was not then fluent in English, but, like Folger, he was fluent in French. She gave him a tour of New York, began to teach him English, and a romance soon blossomed. He moved into her New York City apartment and she soon found herself supporting him financially.

In August 1968, both Folger and Frykowski decided to move to Los Angeles, California. He wanted to pursue his writing career while Folger wanted to get involved with a new welfare project that was currently under way. She rented a car, and she and Frykowski drove across the country.

In Los Angeles, she found a two-story hilltop home to rent at 2774 Woodstock Road for her and Wojciech in Laurel Canyon, and bought a 1968 yellow Firebird. Their neighbor across the road was singer Cass Elliot of the rock group The Mamas & the Papas, whom the couple quickly befriended. Through Frykowski, she met Roman Polanski and his wife, Sharon Tate. Through the Polanskis, Folger and Frykowski were introduced to Jay Sebring. The five quickly began to hang out together and were known to be a part of 'the beautiful people crowd' in Hollywood. In a 2006 interview for the History Channel show Our Generation: Death of the Counterculture, Michelle Phillips, also of The Mamas & the Papas, said that she was very good friends with all of the Tate murder victims (presumably excluding Steven Parent) and that it was still hard to talk about the murders.

Social work

Like her mother, Ines, who was active doing charity work with the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic in San Francisco, Folger continued to be involved with volunteer work. She registered as a volunteer social worker for the Los Angeles County Welfare Department in September 1968. Earlier, in the spring and summer of 1968, she attended fundraisers set up by her mother to aid the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic. It was around the same time many of the Manson family women were being treated there. Back in Los Angeles, Folger spent long days in the ghettos doing her job as a volunteer social worker with children, waking up at dawn each day.

On March 15, 1969, Folger, Sebring, and Frykowski attended the catered housewarming party of the Polanskis at 10050 Cielo Drive. Over one hundred guests, such as Jane Fonda, Roger Vadim, Peter Fonda, Tony Curtis, Warren Beatty, Nancy Sinatra, Michael Sarne, Michelle Phillips, John Phillips, and Cass Elliot, attended. The next day, Polanski left for London to begin work on a new film.

Meanwhile, Folger's work as a social worker soon began to take a toll on her and she became depressed.

On March 23, 1969, an odd incident occurred at 10050 Cielo Drive. That afternoon, Folger and Frykowski went over to the Polanskis' home for a going away dinner party for Tate, who was leaving for Rome the next day. Sebring was there, as well as Tate's friend Shahrokh Hatami, an Iranian photographer. Rudi Altobelli, the owner of the Cielo home, had attended the party briefly, but soon returned to his guest house to pack for his upcoming trip to Europe. The incident involved a strange-looking man who had appeared on the property as the occupants of the house sat in the dining room, which faced the front of the residence. Hatami felt uneasy about this stranger roaming the Polanski estate, so he left the house to confront the man. From the front porch, the party inside could be seen through the large dining room windows. Hatami asked the stranger if he could help him. The stranger said he was looking for someone by the name of Terry Melcher, a name Hatami did not recognize. Hatami made it clear to the stranger that this was the Polanski residence, and suggested that perhaps the person he was looking for lived in the guest house. Later, this stranger was identified as Charles Manson.

Politics

From April to May 1968, Folger became a political volunteer for the ill-fated presidential campaign of New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy. She donated both time and money to the Kennedy campaign. The campaign soon came to an end when Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles in early June.

The next year during the month of April and continuing through most of May, she was a political volunteer for the campaign of Tom Bradley, a black councilman running for mayor of Los Angeles. She contributed both her time and a large amount of her own money to the Bradley campaign. Bradley lost to Sam Yorty in late May, which left Folger feeling bitter and disillusioned. This led her to become very involved with the civil rights movement that summer.

10050 Cielo Drive

On April 1, 1969, while Roman Polanski was away in Europe filming movies, Folger and Frykowski moved into the Polanskis' Cielo Drive home in Benedict Canyon, at Polanski's request. At the same time, their Woodstock Road home was being occupied by Wojciech's friend, Polish artist Witold-K, who had arrived in the United States the previous December. A day earlier, Folger had quit her job as a social worker. Constantly fighting, the pair began to sink lower into their world of experimental drug use.

In May 1969, Folger and her mother attended the San Francisco opening of Jay Sebring's newest shop at 629 Commercial Street. Folger enjoyed the champagne reception and found herself mingling with such guests as Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Doris Tate, and her husband Paul Tate (Sharon's parents).

In June 1969, she and her mother took a vacation together in New York.

On July 8, 1969, Folger and Frykowski learned that Sharon Tate would be returning to the U.S. later that month. The couple then began to move most of their clothing from Cielo Drive back to their own home on Woodstock Road. They informed Wojciech's friend, Witold-K, that they would be soon returning to live in their home after Tate's arrival.

On July 20, 1969, Tate returned to California from London and asked Abigail and Wojciech to remain at 10050 Cielo Drive with her until her husband Roman Polanski arrived on August 12. Folger, Frykowski, Tate and Sebring, along with Tate's parents and two younger sisters, all watched the moon landing on television.

On Wednesday August 6, 1969 film director Michael Sarne invited Folger, Frykowski and Tate over for a dinner party at his rented Malibu beach house. After dessert had been served, Tate began to feel unwell, so it was decided that Folger and Frykowski would drive her home.

Death

On August 8, 1969, Folger and Frykowski ran some errands together. Folger purchased a yellow, lightweight bicycle around 2 p.m. from a shop on Santa Monica Boulevard and arranged for it to be delivered to Cielo Drive later that afternoon. She and Wojciech then drove back to the Polanski home and had a late lunch with Tate and her friends, Joanna Pettet and Barbara Lewis, on the front lawn patio. The late lunch was served to the party of five by Winifred Chapman, the Polanskis' housekeeper. Shortly after, at around 3:45 p.m., Folger left Cielo Drive in her Firebird in order to keep an appointment she had later that afternoon. Frykowski left minutes later, in Tate's rented 1969 red Camaro, to unload a box at the couple's Woodstock Road home.

That evening, just after 9 p.m., Folger, Frykowski, Jay Sebring, and Sharon Tate went out to a Mexican restaurant called El Coyote. Returning home, Frykowski fell asleep on the couch while Folger was in her room reading. Her mother called her at 10 p.m. that night to verify their weekend plans. She was scheduled to fly to San Francisco at 10 a.m. Saturday morning on United Airlines in order to celebrate her birthday. Her mother was to join her later, as she was coming in from Connecticut after spending time with friends.

Manson's followers broke into the house in the early morning hours of August 9, 1969. When one of them (Susan Atkins) passed Folger's bedroom door, Folger, believing the woman was a friend of the Polanskis, waved and smiled at the intruder. When the occupants of the house were assembled in the living room, their captors asked if any of them had any money. Folger responded that she did and was led to her bedroom to empty her purse. After being stabbed and struggling with the murderers, she escaped the house only to be overcome on the lawn outside by Patricia Krenwinkel. She was stabbed 28 times and died from a stab wound to the aorta. Allegedly, Folger's dying words were, "You can stop now; I'm already dead." Although coroners found a large amount of the drug MDA in her system, they reached the conclusion that she was fully aware of what was happening when the attack occurred.

Abigail Folger's body was returned to San Francisco and taken to Crippen and Flynn Mortuary in Redwood City. Her funeral was held on the morning of August 13, 1969, at Our Lady of the Wayside Church in Portola Valley, a church that had been built by her grandparents, the Mejias, in 1912.

Following a Catholic requiem mass, Abigail Folger was entombed at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California. (Main Mausoleum, Hallway N)

After her death, investigators reported that Folger's estate was worth $530,000. She left no will.

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