John Lennon’s untimely murder at the hands of Mark Chapman rocked the world in 1980. The singer’s message of peace and love had been so intrinsic to his identity that this killing felt like an evil attack on the world’s constitution for goodness. Was this a senseless murder or was there something darker at play? Surely, The Beatles legend, John Lennon wasn’t another victim of the Rosemary’s Baby curse? Let us explain.
Hollywood, and America, in general, is often at fault for the perpetuation of so-called ‘curses’. Not only does it add mystique and fervour to productions but it allows the conversation about the project to carry on for years. In our case, 51 years, as the tale of the Rosemary’s Baby curse continues to swirl around the darker corners of the internet.
In the Roman Polanski directed horror film of 1968, Rosemary’s Baby the lead character is an actor who, in exchange for the sweet taste of fame, is willing to give up his wife’s womb to Satan. It was a hit across America and made Roman Polanski a household name and a very wealthy man. But while success ran parallel to the film’s screenings, many believed that the Satanic overtones of the picture shrowded all who worked on it in a curse.
Thanks to Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the curse, the film and Polanski are back in the limelight. One of the film’s weaving storylines is the shocking murder of Sharon Tate, an up and coming actor in her own right, and the wife of Rosemary’s Baby director Polanski. In 1968, shortly after the film’s release, Tate was cruelly murdered while eight months pregnant at the hands of the Manson Family. While this was clearly the vilest moment of any possible curse, sadly, this was not the end of the bad times.
Also to suffer at the hands of the potential curse was the film’s composer who died weeks after completing his work. Mia Farrow, the film’s star was served divorce papers on set. Producer William Castle suffered kidney failure shortly after the film’s release, even hallucinating about the film as he went in for surgery allegedly shouting “Rosemary, for God’s sake drop that knife!” later admitting that he was “very frightened of Rosemary’s Baby.”
Another producer on the film, Robert Evans, was also in for his share of bad luck. He was arrested for cocaine possession, falsely tied to a murder, and suffered multiple strokes in his lifetime. Writer Ira Levin, despite writing a best-selling novel, also suffered at the hands of the alleged curse, with his wife leaving him shortly after the film’s release as well as receiving countless threats from the Catholic Church. Not to mention Polanski’s fall from directorial auteur to deplorable and horrendous abuser following the abhorrent assault of a 13-year-old girl in 1977 which he fled the country for.
And, hopefully, finally, John Lennon was brutally murdered outside the hotel in which Rosemary’s Baby was shot.
As well as being friends with Polanski and the film’s star Mia Farrow, John and Yoko had lived for many years in the Dakota Hotel, where Rosemary’s Baby was filmed. Called ‘The Brampton’ in the 1968 film, the gothic architecture of the 19th century building lent itself to the film’s foreboding, ominous Satanic style. It would also be the setting of John Lennon’s final moments.
Lennon was gunned down outside the Dakota Hotel on 8th December in 1980 by alleged “fan”, Mark David Chapman. We should say that Chapman in no way cites Roman Polanski’s film as inspiration, instead, being influenced by Salinger’s novel Catcher in the Rye. But this hasn’t stopped horror fans and film fanatics linking the curse to Lennon’s death.
Of course, when dissecting anything related to the occult or Satanism in any way, it is hard to not guffaw around in scientifically-backed silliness at the very notion of something demonic at play. It’s hard not to see the audience colouring in between the black and white facts to make themselves a prettier picture. The likelihood is that this is pure coincidence mixed with a little Hollywood glamour and Lennon and Tate’s murders, as well as all the other misfortunes, are just bad luck.
That’s probably the best way to think about it. Mainly, because thinking any other way is too damn frightening.