Manson and members of his "family" of followers were convicted of killing actress Sharon Tate and six other people during a bloody rampage in the Los Angeles area in August 1969. Prosecutors said Manson and his followers were trying to incite a race war he dubbed "Helter Skelter," taken from the Beatles song of the same name.
Tate, the wife of director Roman Polanski, was 8 1/2 months pregnant when she was killed at her hilltop home in Benedict Canyon on Aug. 9, 1969. Four others were stabbed and shot to death the same night: Jay Sebring, 35; Voytek Frykowski, 32; Abigail Folger, 25, a coffee heiress; and Steven Parent, 18, a friend of Tate's caretaker. The word "pig" was written on the front door in blood.
The next night, Manson rode with his followers to the Los Feliz home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, then left three members to kill the couple.
Manson initially was sentenced to death. But a 1972 ruling by the California Supreme Court found the state's death penalty law at the time unconstitutional, and his sentence was changed to life in prison with the possibility of parole. He has been denied parole 12 times.
During his four decades of incarceration, Manson has been anything but a model prisoner. Among other things, he has been cited for assault, repeated possession of a weapon, threatening staff and possessing a cellphone.
9:50 p.m.: Updated with Manson death. 7:23 a.m.: This article was updated with Bakersfield hospital information.