Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

12-year-old Bryan Cranston had a brush with Charles Manson

Photo: Mike Marsland/WireImage/Getty Images

We know that murderous cult leader Charles Manson, who (fortunately) died this week, was obsessed with celebrities like The Beach Boys and longed for his own successful, star-making music career. But Manson eventually became the worst kind of celebrity, convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the deaths of seven people in the 1969 Tate-LaBianca killings.

Even a year before that, though, Manson made an impression on then-12-year-old Bryan Cranston, of all people. The Breaking Bad/Last Flag Flying star alluded to the run-in in a fairly cryptic tweet:


Those interested in more of the story can check out this 2016 interview in which Cranston describes the horseback riding incident at Spahn Ranch in detail. A bearded man came charging up to where Cranston and his cousin were getting horses, screaming, “Charlie’s on the hill!” Then when the two boys were riding, they spotted “the little man with crazy eyes”—Manson himself. When word broke a year later about the Tate-LaBianca murders and the Manson Family’s home on Spahn Ranch, Cranston and his cousin realized immediately that they had come in contact with Manson that day.

Cranston calls the whole event “creepy,” which is an understatement.

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