In 1977, the revered film director Roman Polanski raped a 13-year-old model named Samantha Jane Gailey at actors Jack Nicholson’s home. The French-born Polanski was Hollywood’s Golden Boy. His first feature-length film, Knife in the Water (1962), although made in Poland was nominated in the US for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It was the first of five nominations he would receive. He followed Knife in the Water with the equally well-received British made Repulsion (1965) and 1960’s hit Rosemary's Baby. More hits followed including, Chinatown (nominated for eleven Academy Awards) Then in the summer of 1968, his pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate and four friends were stabbed to death by members of the Charlie Manson Family.
A friend of Polanski’s named Henri Sera suggested a teen model named Samantha Gailey for a shoot he was doing for the French edition of Vogue. Polanski met with Samantha Gailey and her mother at their home in the suburb of Woodland Hills, on February 13, 1977. Polanski later said he was disappointed because Samantha was “a good-looking girl but nothing sensational.” Also at the meeting was Susan Gailey’s boyfriend, who was an editor at Marijuana Monthly. Polanski explained that that the photoshoot would be done in a private session, and the mother agreed.
Polanski returned a week later to take some arriving at about 4 P.M. on February 20, telling the mother he would shoot in Benedict Canyon, but, concerned with the fading light in the late afternoon, he changed that to the hills just behind the Gailey home. When the mother asked to go along, Polanski told her no. “He said, No, that he would rather be alone with her because she will respond more naturally.”
Samantha said that in the first session, Polanski had her remove her blouse and bra for a topless shot and that she agreed to do, but reluctantly. The pair had a second session on 10 March 1977. Polanski again arrived in the late afternoon, and took the girl to the home of Jacqueline Bisset, who lived on Mulholland Drive, in the Hollywood Hills. They took about fifty pictures, but the light was fading, and there were guests at the house which caused a distraction. Polanski called Jack Nicholson’s house, (Nicholson was on a ski trip in Colorado) on the other side of Mulholland and reached Helena Kallianiotes, a professional belly dancer who worked as a caretaker for Nicholson as well as for Marlon Brando, who owned the compound. She told Polanski to come over and Kallianiotes agreed.
Once at Nicholson’s place, Samantha said she was thirsty, and Polanski poured her a glasses of Cristal champagne. Kallianiotes left and the photoshoot began. Polanski asked her to join him in the bedroom and once there, he asked her to lie down on the bed.
"We did photos with me drinking champagne," Samantha said "Toward the end it got a little scary, and I realized he had other intentions and I knew I was not where I should be. I just didn't quite know how to get myself out of there. We were alone, and I didn't know what else would happen if I made a scene. So I was just scared, and after giving some resistance, I figured well, I guess I'll get to come home after this…..I just kept drinking it for pictures,” Samantha said and then Polanski again asked her to pose topless, which she did. They took a short break and Polanski told the girl to call her mother to tell her they were running late. After the phone call, Polanski asked Samantha to pose in Nicholson’s outdoor Jacuzzi, at which point they shared a Quaalude. “I think I must have been pretty drunk” she said or else I wouldn’t have (taken it)”
She took off her clothes except for her panties before entering the Jacuzzi “I was ready to get in and he said, ‘Take off your underwear.’ So I did and then I got in” and Polanski started shooting then he took off his clothes and joined in the Jacuzzi. She said that when Polanski moved toward her she said felt an asthma attack coming on (She didn’t actually suffer from asthma) “I had to get out because of the warm air and the cold air or something like that”
Polanski began having intercourse with her and asked whether she was on the pill (she said no) and when her last period was (she couldn’t remember). Polanski said, “ ‘Oh, I won’t come inside of you then,’ . . . then he lifted up my legs farther and he went in through my anus,” despite her saying that she didn’t want him to. Samantha said she did not fight back physically, “because I was afraid of him,” though she continued to ask him to stop.
In his book, Polanski described the sexual encounter this way: “We dried ourselves and each other. She said she was feeling better. Then, very gently, I began to kiss and caress her. After this had gone on for some time, I led her over to the couch. There was no doubt about her experience and lack of inhibition. She spread herself and I entered her. She wasn’t unresponsive.”
Then Polanski performed oral, vaginal, and anal sex acts on her. She also testified that he shared a Quaalude with her.
Years later Samantha said “A word on the testimony. I was a terrified 14-year-old alone on the stand in front of more than 20 people. I was there to prove two things: that the sex had occurred and that I did not want it. I never told Polanski to “keep away” during the rape and I was not crying.”
The actress Anjelica Huston, with whom he had been living with, dropped by to pick up some of her belongings. She heard noises from behind the closed bedroom door. She banged on the door and Polanski called out that they were almost finished with the session. When they emerged, the three of them had a pleasant conversation and Polanski and the girl left.
Polanski took the child home. According to him, Samantha “talked a lot during the drive home” and mentioned that she was studying “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in school. “I tried not to wince when she started spouting Shakespeare in a strong Valley accent.” Before they reached the Gailey home, she testified, he said to her, “Don’t tell your mother about this, and don’t tell your boyfriend either. . . . This is our secret.”
Inside the house Polanski insisted on showing her mother, Susan, an aspiring actress, the photos he had just taken of her, including the topless photo. Susan looked over the photos and was upset at the quality of the shots and told Polanski they weren’t professional quality. The mother also felt that her daughter was “weird looking.” Samantha’s boyfriend came over later that night, and she told him what had happened, Kim overheard the conversation and phoned the police.
The following day, March 11, 1977, Polanski was arrested at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and charged with rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14, and furnishing a controlled substance to a minor.
A police detective named Vannatter and his partner went to the Beverly Wilshire hotel, in Beverly Hills, where Polanski was staying. “As we were walking through the lobby, I saw Polanski getting out of the elevator,” Vannatter said. “I walked up to him and placed him under arrest. I thought, The heck with this. I wasn’t going to let those D.A.s tell me how to do my job. Why not arrest the guy? Any other person would have been arrested. So I said I’m going to do what is right. After I read him his rights, I asked him to take me upstairs to his room, so I could do the search. I noticed that he had something in his hand, and he was just about to drop it. So I put my hand under his and said, ‘Why don’t you drop it into my hand instead of on the floor?’ ” and Polanski handed him a single Quaalude. “As we say on the farm” Vannatter continued “he was nervous as a hen on a hot rock. He kept asking me for the Quaalude back, so he could take it and calm down. By the time we got back to the station house, he told me he had had sex with her.”
From Polanski view, he said “I was incredulous; I couldn’t equate what had happened that day with rape in any form. When I was being driven to the police station from the hotel, the car radio was already talking about it. . . . I couldn’t believe. . . . I thought, you know, I was going to wake up from it. I realize, if I have killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But . . . fucking, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to fuck young girls. Juries want to fuck young girls—everyone wants to fuck young girls!”.
Polanski pleaded not guilty to all charges at his arraignment but as the trial came closer, Polanski accepted a plea bargain which would dismiss the original five charges in exchange for a guilty plea to the lesser charge of engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse. Polanski denied the rape allegation and that the sex was consensual.
Initially, Polanski was ordered to undergo a 90-day psychiatric evaluation at Chino State Prison whose results the court would use to determine his guilt or to recommended probation. However, Polanski was allowed time to finish his latest film in Europe. When that was done, he returned to LA and completed his evaluation term at Chino. The determination of the report was that Polanski receive probation.
But in February 1978, hours before he was to be formally sentenced, Polanski fled the country for France. He had gotten wind of a supposed conversation between LA Deputy District Attorney David Wells and the judge in his case wherein Wells was supposed to have shown the judge a photo of Polanski at Oktoberfest 1977 with his arms around some underage girls. The photo was said to have caused the judge to put the director in prison and then have him deported.
The D.A.’s office told the press “This case is about a 44-year-old defendant who plied a 13-year-old girl with drugs and alcohol, then against her consent, committed acts of oral copulation, sodomy and sexual intercourse upon her”
“By the end of the trial” Samantha later said “Judge Rittenband seemed completely unhinged and certainly had no concern for me. He wanted me on the stand to aggravate media interest, and when he couldn’t get that, he started to take it out on the defendant. The judicial process broke down entirely and there was no way to trust him or to know what he might do next. [Rittenband was later removed from the case.] I was relieved when Roman left and the court had no way to torment me anymore. What most people don’t know is that I was also put on a plane and sent out of state to hinder Rittenband’s plans to see me testify in the “trial of the century.” Roman and I deserve a fair justice system as much and anyone else does. 41 years later, we are still denied it because each new DA and every Judge wants something for themselves.”
Samantha sued Polanski in 1988 for sexual assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and seduction. Although she assumed that they had settled the case out of court Polanski missed the initial payment deadline forcing her to file a complaint with the court which agreed with Samantha’s argument and said that Polanski owed her over $600,000.
In May of 2010, the actress and former Playboy model Charlotte Lewis and the ambulance chasing LA attorney Gloria Allred accused Polanski of sexually assaulting Lewis when she was 16 years old during the filming of a movie called Pirates. However, the French daily Libération, tracked down a statement from Lewis that said she had been involved with the director for six-month tryst when she was 17 years old.
Polanski continues to live in countries that won’t extradite him to the U.S.
In 1972, Marlon Brando stepped out of semi-retirement to star in a seamy film called Last Tango in Paris. In the film, Brando’s character uses butter as a lubricant before forcing himself on actress Maria Schneider. Ten years later, Schneider revealed that the rape scene was real. Director Bernardo Bertolucci said that he and Brando come up with the idea to use the butter in the scripted rape scene, but didn’t tell Schneider “what was going on, because I wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress. I wanted her to react humiliated.”
Schneider said that she was only told right before they had to film that part. “I was so angry,” she said. “Marlon said to me: ‘Maria, don’t worry, it’s just a movie,’ but during the scene, even though what Marlon was doing wasn’t real, I was crying real tears. I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci. After the scene, Marlon didn’t console me or apologize. Thankfully, there was just one take.
I should have called my agent or had my lawyer come to the set because you can’t force someone to do something that isn’t in the script, but at the time, I didn’t know that.”
The 1970s was a strange time for Brando. In 1976, he confirmed the decade's old rumor that he was actively Bisexual, telling a French journalist, "Homosexuality is so much in fashion, it no longer makes news. Like a large number of men, I, too, have had homosexual experiences, and I am not ashamed."
However, he said nothing about his alleged lovers who were supposed to include James Dean. However, Cary Grant, Montgomery Clift, and Sir John Gielgud and, surprisingly, comic Richard Pryor.
In 1954, a major studio star raped a 16 year old Natalie Wood, allegedly the rapist was drunken Kirk Douglas. The story is that Douglas lured Wood to a meeting to discuss a possible film role. The rape was fairly brutal. Wood was taken to a private hospital by her mother and the entire affair was sept over. However Woods did tell the story to her daughter Natasha.