Saturday, March 21, 2009

An Interview with Valentine Michael Manson

A newly released prison photograph of notorious murderer and pop culture icon Charles Manson reminds me that that one of his sons, Valentine Michael Manson (“Pooh Bear”), who was born in April 1968 in Topanga Canyon, California, is named after Valentine Michael Smith, a human raised by Martians and the main character in Robert A. Heinlein’s Hugo Award-winning SF novel Stranger in a Strange Land (1961). Allegedly, Stranger in a Strange Land was one of Charles Manson’s favorite books and some even claim that the novel was in Manson’s backpack when he was arrested in October 1969 for grand theft auto and later charged with the Tate-LaBianca murders.

Valentine Michael Manson’s mother was Mary Brunner, a former library assistant at UC Berkeley who quit her job in 1967 and became one of Charles Manson’s earliest followers. Due to his mother’s entanglement in various Manson Family crimes, Valentine Michael Manson was sent to Wisconsin ca. 1970 to be raised by Mary Brunner’s parents. He grew up under the name Michael Brunner.

Check out a scattered video interview with Michael Brunner from a two-part KCBS-TV special (Part 1, Part 2) on the Manson children that was done by Harvey “TMZ” Levin back in the early 1990s (or read a transcript of the interview). There’s no mention of Heinlein’s novel Stranger in a Strange Land, but it’s a neat interview if you’re a fan of 20th-century pop culture.

Pictured above: Michael Brunner (i.e., Valentine Michael Manson).

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