Is Charles "Tex" Watson From 'Aquarius' A Real Person? Charles Manson Had A Follower Of The Same Name
The first season of the NBC pseudo-historical crime drama Aquarius featured a young and charismatic Charles Manson seducing young women away from their boring lives and building his list of followers. The series is back Thursday night for another summer of love; this time, Aquarius jumps straight into the Manson Family's most infamous acts. The two-hour season premiere of Aquarius begins and ends with flash-forwards to the Cielo Drive and LaBianca murders, which were carried out over two nights in August of 1969. In the show, Manson invites more acolytes to join his cause before those murders are carried out, including Charles Watson (played by Cameron Deane Stewart). In the show, Watson is approached casually by Manson, given the nickname "Tex," and takes a very active role in Manson's violent ministry. Aquarius has been known to mix fact with fiction; is Charles "Tex" Watson a real person?
The Tex Watson character appears to be modeled after a real-life Manson follower with the same name. According to his personal website, Watson met Charles Manson through Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, which is slightly different than the scenario presented in Aquarius. In real life, Watson was just 24 years old when he participated in the Family's two-day massacre, which was designed by Manson to ignite a "race war" according to The Los Angeles Times. On August 8, 1969, Watson joined Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, and Patricia Krenwinkel in breaking into a house where director Roman Polanski's wife Sharon Tate was spending time with friends Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, and Jay Sebring. Several Manson Family members including Watson were later convicted of murdering all the house's occupants, as well as teenager Steven Parent when he drove up to the house as the break-in was in progress, according to ABC News.
The Aquarius premiere includes that scene. In the interview below, the real Watson talks about his lack of "conscience" at that time.
Watson was also instrumental in the Family's next mission. The night after the Cielo Drive murders, Manson insisted on coming along with his followers to a party in Los Feliz, California, and a larger group than the previous evening was involved, though Watson, Atkins, Kasabian, and Krenwinkel were all present again, according to The Guardian. Manson chose the house next door to the party, Time reported, and Rosemary and Leno LaBianca were killed that night.
Watson was convicted of the murders in 1971 and sentenced to death by the state of California, according to The Daily Mail. The death sentence was later scaled back to life in prison when the death penalty was temporarily removed in the state, also according to The Daily Mail. Watson married a woman named Kristin Joan Svege while incarcerated and fathered four children during conjugal visits, according to Rolling Stone. They are now divorced.
Watson is still alive and serving time at Mule Creek State Prison in California. He has been eligible for parole since 1976, but all requests thus far have been denied, according to Fox News. However, according to his website, Watson has claimed responsibility and believes he has shown remorse for his crimes. He has authored several books from prison, including two that detail his life as a Manson follower and his later conversion to Christianity. Will You Die For Me? and Manson's Right-Hand Man Speaks Out are both available for free download on Watson's outreach website, Abounding Love.
In April 2016, a letter was sent to Wikipedia, supposedly written by Watson, according to The Independent. The outlet reported that the convict allegedly printed out his entry from the site and wrote corrections in the margins. Wikipedia has since added "citation needed" notes to some of the facts that Watson allegedly called into question.
The focus on those two bloody home invasions in the premiere in Aquarius indicate that Manson's increasingly violent ideology will be a major factor in Season 2, as will the dramatized participation of "right-hand man" Tex Watson.
Image: Vivian Zink/NBC