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As an older man, Mr. Blake trolled for women at jazz clubs, wooing them in the backseat of his truck. Bonny Lee Bakley was a woman with an unsavory reputation as a gold digger, a woman with at least a dozen aliases and 10 former husbands. The defense contended she had trapped Mr. Blake into an unloving marriage by becoming pregnant with his child.

They met at a Los Angeles jazz club in and had sex that night in the back of Mr. Blake's vehicle. Their daughter, Rose, was born in June , and the couple were married that November; Rose has been in the care of Mr. Blake's elder daughter, Delinah. It was established at trial that Ms.

Bakley, 44, recruited rich and famous men by sending them form letters and nude photos of herself. Her dream, she told friends, was to marry a celebrity. It was an unhappy marriage, there is no doubt, as Mr. Blake often referred to his bride as "pig" and told acquaintances that he wanted to "snuff" her, witnesses testified. All that behind him now, Mr. There was nothing Disney, nothing magical, about what happened in Idelwylde condominiums, just a block from the town's central square. On 29 November Matteo Giovanditto was found bludgeoned and strangled inside his apartment where he'd lived with his chihuahua.

On Monday police arrested a suspect, a transient man who lived in a town near Celebration. He told detectives that he'd been taken back to the apartment by the victim and had fallen into a rage after Giovanditto made sexual advances.


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He struck him with an axe that he'd found in a cupboard. The events were so starkly at odds with the town's seal of that little girl on the bicycle that you might think they would inspire a degree of soul-searching in Celebration's residents.

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Far from it. The murder merely appears to have reinforced their commitment to Disney's original ideals. Where can you go in this entire planet and find this type of statistic? Tell me," says Jodi Meyers, who lives on the same street as Giovanditto's apartment.

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She's an estate agent selling Celebration homes and thinks the murder and the suicide shoot-out that followed so soon after it will have done nothing to dent the town's reputation. He said: 'That's a great little town. One murder in 14 years, that's a good record. I want to buy a condo down there. Walt Disney always had a dream to build a model town. It was part of his master plan to create a new magic kingdom in Florida. How he came to put the plan together is the stuff of Disney legend — the numerous trips he took in private jets disguised so that no one would spot him, the front companies he set up to buy the land also incognito, the 30, acres he acquired before anyone noticed.

Less well known is that it was all part of his messianic desire for total control. Disney managed to persuade the local authorities to grant him absolute power within the confines of his new empire, including the ability to raise taxes and run the roads and public amenities. In effect, he had created a private Disney government. Rick Foglesong , a Disney watcher of long standing at Rollins College in Florida, calls it "the Vatican with mouse ears".

Yes he was an artist, but he was also a control freak. People tend to see the Disney creativity, they often miss the centralised control that lies behind it.

But when Celebration finally came into being it bore many of his hallmarks. At its core was nostalgia. While inner cities across America were in the grip of the crack cocaine epidemic, and middle-class Americans were fleeing to increasingly isolated and alienating suburbs, Celebration was conceived as a return to the glory days of America's pre-war small towns. As the authors of Celebration, USA, have put it: "The heirs to Disney's empire were designing the place where Walt had wished he'd grown up.

The planners did a trawl of the most picturesque southern towns — Savannah, Charleston, New Orleans — and borrowed the best from them: town squares, verandahs, gables and front porches. Then they boiled all the ideas down into a pattern book that dictated every detail right down to the plants that could be grown in the yards. There were only six house styles permitted, and only a limited range of colours — white, blue, yellow, pink and buff, all in pastel shades.

Though Disney sold most of its stake in Celebration to a property management company in , the Disney spirit very much lives on. The extent to which the Disney corporation went to control the warp and weft of Celebration speaks to one of the central paradoxes of modern American life. For a country that prides itself so fiercely on its untrammelled individualism and freedom, it has a strong streak of conformism. But in its own terms it worked. People came to live in Celebration, and stayed.


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  5. First-generation Disney obsessives have given way to their second-generation offspring. Alas, The Haunting of Sharon Tate is not a good movie. The dialogue is clunky, the delivery stilted, and the low production value makes it all feel like a flashback sequence from a very low-budget History Channel documentary about the Manson Family. Is it just to scare?

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    Is it a wish-fulfillment scenario in which the protagonists avoid the fate we know to be theirs? An excuse to poorly recreate late s decor? A commentary on Manson and his cult? A mind-altering theory about the multiverse? Having no prior knowledge of the plot, I was certain that they were all actually dead, and though unsure how the film would continue past that, I certainly never expected the actual outcome, which is that it was all a DREAM.

    Somehow, even when it succeeds at subverting expectations, this movie fails. Looking back at the driveway she just escaped, Sharon sees her own corpse, covered with a sheet, her bloodied pregnant belly peeking through the folds. At least, until we get it right.


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