Bryan Cranston recalls childhood encounter with Charles Manson: ‘I was within his grasp’

Bryan Cranston shared a story about crossing Charles Manson's path in 1968.
Bryan Cranston shared a story about crossing Charles Manson's path in 1968. Keystone Press

Upon hearing about the death of Charles Manson, Bryan Cranston took to Twitter to share an encounter he had with the cult leader when he was a child. The 61-year-old Breaking Bad actor shared a story about crossing Manson’s path in 1968, one-year before the brutal murders by the Manson Family.

“Hearing Charles Manson is dead, I shuddered,” he tweeted on Monday. “I was within his grasp just one year before he committed brutal murder in 1969. Luck was with me when a cousin and I went horseback riding at the Span [sic] Ranch, and saw the little man with crazy eyes whom the other hippies called Charlie.”

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It isn’t the first time Cranston has mentioned his encounter with Manson. In a 2016 interview posted to YouTube, the actor detailed his encounter while growing up in the San Fernando Valley area near the Spahn Ranch where Manson and his followers lived.

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“I didn’t actually meet Charles Manson,” Cranston clarifies. “Where I grew up in the San Fernando Valley was an area called Santa Susana Pass that goes from one valley to another. And in the middle of this pass was the Spahn Ranch where they rented horses, you could go horseback riding.” The actor and his cousin were renting horses one afternoon when someone yelled, “Charlie’s on the hill!” and a group set out on horses towards the hill.

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Not sure what was happening, Cranston and his cousin got on their horses and proceeded on their ride. Half an hour later, the boys saw a trail of horses coming down the path towards them.

“In the middle of the pack was a guy holding the reins of the horse behind him,” Cranston remembers. “On the horse behind him was this little bearded guy with big, dark eyes and wild hair and his eyes were wide.”

“I couldn’t take my eyes off of him,” the actor recalls. “We’re deducing it must be Charlie. Flash-forward to a year later and we hear the murders, they go to Spahn Ranch, they found it’s Charlie Manson.” After seeing his picture in the newspaper, Cranston says he and his cousin realized it was the same man with the “crazy eyes” they had passed near the ranch.

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Watch Cranston describe his encounter in full below.