By Julia Marsh, NY Post Hack
Ava Roosevelt was very nearly Charles Manson’s sixth victim — and she has her old, broken-down Rolls-Royce to thank for her life.
In an exclusive interview with The Post on the eve of the murders’ 45th anniversary, the former countess and Roman Polanski confidante shared for the first time the horror and hope of narrowly surviving the slaughter.
- Ava Roosevelt
“I’ve always said to myself how incredibly lucky I am,” said Roosevelt, who had been invited to the Beverly Hills mansion of Polanski and his wife, actress Sharon Tate, on Aug. 8, 1969, just hours before the madman’s minions’ predawn orgy of blood. “It was the death of innocence,” Roosevelt, 66, of South Norwalk, Conn., recalled of the Manson Family cult’s murder of eight-months-pregnant Tate and four friends.
On the eve of the murders, Roosevelt was a golden-haired stunner who had run away from a Polish convent dreaming of a career in fashion. “I left Poland with $5 in my pocket,” she told The Post.
Just 19, she had already been married twice — first to a French count and then to Mia Farrow’s brother, John. She would marry twice more, to a steel magnate and then for 20 years to William Donner Roosevelt, grandson of FDR.
But back in 1969, “Sharon and Roman were my family.”
Tate, 26, “was like my older sister,” she recalled. “The last words Sharon said to me were, ‘I love you and come to see me. Try to come after dinner.’ She sounded happy — Roman was coming back [from London] in a couple of days. Her child was coming. I think it was such a horrible twist of fate.”
The gas gauge was acting up on Roosevelt’s 1955 Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn, and so, fatefully, she stayed home.
“He was as devastated as a human being can be,” she recalled of seeing her fellow Pole, Polanski, days later. “He was barely standing up. I have never seen anyone grieving like that.
“Sharon Tate’s murder and the murders of the others [including Rosemary and Leno LaBianca the next day] shed a light on what was possible — that mad people like Manson had the power to dispatch people, to kill with such hate,” she said. “It certainly changed me irrevocably.”
Roosevelt now writes for South Florida’s Opulance magazine and is hoping to see her romance novel, “The Racing Heart,” optioned by Hollywood.