Death of Marilyn Monroe

Death of Marilyn Monroe

New York Daily Mirror front page article, August 6, 1962
Date August 5, 1962 (1962-08-05)
Location 12305 Fifth Helena Drive,
Brentwood, Los Angeles,
California, United States
Cause Barbiturate overdose
Burial August 8, 1962, at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery,
Los Angeles, California
Inquest August 17, 1962, in Los Angeles, California
Coroner Theodore Curphey
Verdict Probable suicide

On August 5, 1962, Marilyn Monroe died of a barbiturate overdose in Los Angeles. She was a major sex symbol and one of the most popular Hollywood stars during the 1950s. She was a top-billed actress for a decade, and her films grossed $200 million by 1962.[1]

At the time of her death, Monroe had suffered from mental illness and substance abuse for several years, and had not completed a film since The Misfits, released in 1961. She had spent 1961 preoccupied with her various health problems, and in April 1962 had begun filming Something's Got to Give for 20th Century Fox, but was fired in early June. The studio publicly blamed her for the production's problems, and in the weeks preceding her death, Monroe attempted to repair her public image by giving several interviews to high-profile publications. She also began negotiations with Fox on being re-hired for Something's Got to Give and for starring roles in other productions.

Monroe spent her last day, Saturday, August 4, at her home in Brentwood, accompanied by publicist Patricia Newcomb, housekeeper Eunice Murray, photographer Lawrence Schiller and psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson at various times. At Greenson's request, Murray stayed overnight to keep Monroe company. At approximately 3 a.m. the next day, she noticed that Monroe had locked herself in her bedroom and was unresponsive. Murray alerted Greenson, who arrived soon after and broke into the room, finding Monroe deceased. Her death was officially ruled a probable suicide by the Los Angeles County coroner's office, based on precedents of her overdosing and being prone to mood swings and suicidal ideation. No evidence of crime was found, and accidental overdose was ruled out due to the large amount of barbiturates she had ingested. Her funeral was held on August 8 at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, where she was interred at the Corridor of Memories.

Despite the coroner's verdict, several conspiracy theories suggesting murder or accidental overdose have been proposed since the mid-1960s. Many of these involve President John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert, as well as union leader Jimmy Hoffa and mob boss Sam Giancana. Due to prevalence of these theories in the media, the office of the Los Angeles County District Attorney reviewed the case in 1982, but found no evidence to support them and did not disagree with the findings of the original investigation.


Monroe performing at President John F. Kennedy's birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden in May 1962, less than three months before her death.
Monroe on a beach, wearing a bikini and laughing.
In one of her last photo shoots, by George Barris for Cosmopolitan in July 1962. The shoot was part of a campaign to counter the negative publicity resulting from her being fired by Fox.

By the early 1960s, Monroe had abused amphetamines and barbiturates and experienced mental health problems –including depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and chronic insomnia– for several years.[2] She had acquired a reputation for being difficult to work with, as she frequently delayed productions by being late to film sets and often had trouble remembering her lines. By 1960, this behavior was affecting her career, to the extent that Paramount Pictures declined to cast her as Holly Golightly in the film adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany's, despite endorsement by its author, Truman Capote.[3] The two films Monroe completed in the 1960s, Let's Make Love (1960) and The Misfits (1961), were both critical and commercial failures, and during the filming of the latter she had had to spend a week detoxing in a hospital.[4] Her third marriage, to author Arthur Miller, also ended in divorce in January 1961.[5]

Instead of working, Monroe spent a large part of 1961 preoccupied with health problems, undergoing surgery for her endometriosis and a cholecystectomy, and spending four weeks in hospital care – including a brief stint in a mental ward – for depression.[6][lower-alpha 1] She moved back to Los Angeles after six years in New York, purchasing a Spanish hacienda-style house on 12305 Fifth Helena Drive in Brentwood.[8] Monroe returned to the public eye in 1962; she received a "World Film Favorite" Golden Globe award and began to shoot a new film for 20th Century-Fox, Something's Got to Give, a re-make of My Favorite Wife (1940).[9]

Days before filming began, Monroe caught sinusitis; despite medical advice to postpone the production, Fox began it as planned in late April.[10] Monroe was too ill to work for the majority of the next six weeks, but despite confirmations by multiple doctors, the studio tried to pressurize her by alleging publicly that she was faking it.[10] On May 19, she took a break from filming to sing "Happy Birthday" on stage at President John F. Kennedy's birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden in New York.[11] Monroe and Kennedy had mutual friends and although they sometimes had casual sexual encounters, there is no evidence that their relationship was serious.[12] After returning from New York, Monroe returned to filming and celebrated her 36th birthday on set on June 1.[13] She was then again absent for several days, which led 20th Century-Fox to fire her on June 7 and sue her for breach of contract, demanding $750,000 in damages.[14] She was replaced by Lee Remick, but after co-star Dean Martin refused to make the film with anyone other than Monroe, Fox sued him as well and shut down the production.[15]

The studio publicly blamed Monroe's drug addiction and alleged lack of professionalism for the demise of the film, even claiming that she was mentally disturbed.[16][lower-alpha 2] To counter the negative publicity, Monroe gave interviews to several high-profile publications, such as Life, Cosmopolitan and Vogue, in her last weeks.[19] She also began negotiations with Fox about resuming filming on Something's Got to Give, and made plans for starring in What a Way to Go! (1964) and a biopic about Jean Harlow.[20]


Monroe spent her last day alive, Saturday, August 4, at her Brentwood home.[21][22][23] In the morning, she met with photographer Lawrence Schiller to discuss the possibility of Playboy publishing nude photos taken of her on the set of Something's Got to Give.[21][22][23] She also received a massage from her personal massage therapist, talked with friends on the phone, and signed for deliveries.[22][23] Present at the house in the morning were also her housekeeper, Eunice Murray, and her publicist Patricia Newcomb, who had stayed overnight.[22][23] According to Newcomb, they had an argument because Monroe had not slept well the night before.[22][23]

At 4:30 p.m., Dr. Ralph Greenson arrived at the house to conduct a therapy session with Monroe, and asked Newcomb to leave.[23][24] Before he left at around 7 p.m., he asked the housekeeper to stay overnight and keep Monroe company.[23] At approximately 7–7:15, Monroe received a call from Joe DiMaggio, Jr., with whom she had stayed close since her marriage to his father.[25][23] He told her that he had broken up with a girlfriend she did not like, and detected nothing alarming in her behavior.[25][23] She telephoned Greenson to tell him the news (about DiMaggio's parting from his girlfriend) at around 7:40–7:45.[23][26][27]

Monroe's house on 12305 Fifth Helena Drive

Monroe retired to her bedroom at approximately 8 p.m.[27] She received a call from actor Peter Lawford, who was hoping to persuade her to attend his party that night.[25][26] Lawford became alarmed as Monroe sounded like she was under the influence of drugs, and told him to: "Say goodbye to Pat, say goodbye to the president [Lawford's brother-in-law], and say goodbye to yourself, because you're a nice guy", before drifting off.[25][26] Unable to reach Monroe, Lawford called his agent Milton Ebbins, who unsuccessfully tried to reach Dr. Greenson, and later called Monroe's lawyer, Milton A. "Mickey" Rudin.[25][26] Rudin called Monroe's house, and was assured by her housekeeper that she was fine.[25][26]

At approximately 3:00 a.m., the housekeeper woke up "sensing that something was wrong", and saw light from under Monroe's bedroom door, but was not able to get a response and found the door locked.[23][28] She telephoned Greenson, on whose advice she looked in through a window and saw Monroe lying facedown on her bed, covered by a sheet and clutching a telephone receiver.[23][28] Greenson arrived shortly after. He entered the room by breaking a window and found Monroe dead.[23][28] He called her physician, Dr. Hyman Engelberg, who arrived at the house at around 3:50 a.m. and officially confirmed the death.[23][28] At 4:25 a.m., they notified the Los Angeles Police Department.[23][28]

Inquest and 1982 review

Monroe's autopsy was conducted on the morning of August 5 by deputy coroner Dr. Thomas Noguchi. The Los Angeles County coroner's office was assisted in the inquest by psychiatrists Dr. Norman Farberow, Dr. Robert Litman, and Dr. Norman Tabachnik from the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center, who interviewed Monroe's doctors and psychiatrists on her mental state.[29][30][31] Based on her advanced state of rigor mortis at the time she was found, it was estimated that she had died between 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.[32] The toxicological analysis concluded that the cause of death was acute barbiturate poisoning, as she had 8 mg% of chloral hydrate and 4.5 mg% of pentobarbital (Nembutal) in her blood, and a further 13 mg% of pentobarbital in her liver.[29][30] Empty bottles of these medicines were found next to her bed by the police.[29][30] There were no signs of external violence on the body.[30]

The findings of the inquest were published on August 17, with Chief Coroner Theodore Curphey classifying Monroe's death a "probable suicide".[29][30][31] The possibility of an accidental overdose was ruled out as the dosages found in her body were several times over the lethal limit, and had been taken "in one gulp or in a few gulps over a minute or so."[31] At the time of her death, Monroe was reported to have been in a "depressed mood", and had been "unkempt" and uninterested in maintaining her appearance.[1] No suicide note was found, but Dr. Litman stated that this was not unusual, as statistically less than 40 percent of suicide victims leave notes.[1] In their final report, Farberow, Litman, and Tabachnik stated:

Miss Monroe had suffered from psychiatric disturbance for a long time. She experienced severe fears and frequent depressions. Mood changes were abrupt and unpredictable. Among symptoms of disorganization, sleep disturbance was prominent, for which she had been taking sedative drugs for many years. She was thus familiar with and experienced in the use of sedative drugs and well aware of their dangers. [...] In our investigation we have learned that Miss Monroe had often expressed wishes to give up, to withdraw, and even to die. On more than one occasion in the past, she had made a suicide attempt, using sedative drugs. On these occasions, she had called for help and had been rescued. It is our opinion that the same pattern was repeated on the evening of Aug. 4 except for the rescue. It has been our practice with similar information collected in other cases in the past to recommend a certification for such deaths as probable suicide. Additional clews for suicide provided by the physical evidence are the high level of barbiturates and chloral hydrate in the blood which, with other evidence from the autopsy, indicates the probable ingestion of a large amount of drugs within a short period of time: the completely empty bottle of Nembutal, the prescription for which (25 capsules) was filled the day before the ingestion, and the locked door to the bedroom, which was unusual.[31]

Due to the claims that Monroe had been murdered that surfaced in the 1970s, Los Angeles County District Attorney John Van de Kamp assigned his colleague Ronald H. "Mike" Carroll to conduct a "threshold investigation" in 1982 to see whether a criminal investigation should be opened.[33][34][35][36] Carroll worked with Alan B. Tomich, an investigator for the district attorney's office, for over three months on an inquiry that resulted in a thirty-page report.[36] They did not find any credible evidence to support the theory that Monroe was murdered.[36][37][35]

In 1983, coroner Thomas Noguchi published his memoirs, in which he discussed Monroe's case and the allegations of discrepancies in the autopsy and the coroner's verdict of suicide.[38] These included the claims that Monroe could not have ingested the pills because her stomach was empty; that Nembutal capsules should have left yellow residue; that she may have been administered an enema; and that the autopsy noted no needle marks despite the fact that she routinely received injections from her doctors.[38]

Noguchi explained that hemorrhaging of the stomach lining indicated that the medication had been administered orally, and that because Monroe had been an addict for several years, the pills would have been absorbed more rapidly than in the case of non-addicts.[38] He also denied that Nembutal leaves dye residue.[38] He noted that only very recent needle marks are visible on a body, and that the only bruise he noted on Monroe's body, on her lower back, was superficial and its placement indicated that it was accidental, and not linked to foul play.[38] He concluded that based on his observations, the most probable conclusion is that Monroe committed suicide.[38]

Public reactions and funeral

Monroe's crypt at the Westwood Memorial Park

Monroe's unexpected death was front-page news in the United States and Europe.[39] According to biographer Lois Banner, "it's said that the suicide rate in Los Angeles doubled the month after she died; the circulation rate of most newspapers expanded that month",[39] and the Chicago Tribune reported that they had received hundreds of phone calls from members of the public requesting information about her death.[40] French artist Jean Cocteau commented that her death "should serve as a terrible lesson to all those, whose chief occupation consists of spying on and tormenting film stars", her former co-star Laurence Olivier deemed her "the complete victim of ballyhoo and sensation", and Bus Stop director Joshua Logan stated that she was "one of the most unappreciated people in the world".[41]

Monroe's funeral was held on August 8 at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, where her foster parents Ana Lower and Grace McKee Goddard had also been buried.[42][43] It was arranged by her former husband Joe DiMaggio and her business manager Inez Melson, who decided to invite only around thirty of her closest family members and friends, excluding most of Hollywood.[42][43] Police were present to keep the press away and to control the several hundred spectators who crowded the streets around the cemetery.[42][43] The funeral service, presided over by a local minister, was conducted at the cemetery's chapel.[42][43] She was wearing a green Emilio Pucci dress and holding a bouquet of small pink roses; her longtime make-up artist and friend, Whitey Snyder, had done her make-up.[42][43] The eulogy was delivered by Lee Strasberg, and a selection from Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony as well as a record of Judy Garland singing "Over the Rainbow" were played.[42][43] Monroe was interred at crypt No. 24 at the Corridor of Memories.[42][43] DiMaggio arranged for red roses to be placed in a vase attached to the crypt for the next 20 years.[42][43]

Administration of estate

In her will, Monroe left several thousand dollars to her half-sister Berniece Baker Miracle and her secretary May Reis, a share for the education of her friend Norman Rosten's daughter, and established a $100,000 trust fund to cover the costs of the care of her mother and the widow of her acting teacher Michael Chekhov.[44] From the remaining estate she granted 25 percent to her former psychiatrist Marianne Kris "for the furtherance of the work of such psychiatric institutions or groups as she shall elect",[44] and 75 percent, including her personal effects, film royalties and real estate, to Lee Strasberg, whom she instructed to distribute her effects "among my friends, colleagues and those to whom I am devoted".[45] Due to legal complications, the beneficiaries were not paid until 1971.[45]

When Strasberg died in 1982, his inheritance went to his widow, Anna, who claimed Monroe's publicity rights and began to license her image to companies.[45] In 1990, she unsuccessfully sued the Anna Freud Centre, to which Dr. Kris had bequeathed her Monroe rights, in an attempt to gain full rights to Monroe's estate.[46] In 1996, Anna Strasberg hired CMG Worldwide, a celebrity-legacy licensing group, to manage the licensing rights,[46] and in the same year prevented Odyssey Group, Inc. from auctioning effects that Monroe's business manager Inez Melson had obtained when she died.[47] Between 1996 and 2001 CMG entered into 700 licensing agreements with merchandisers.[46] Against Monroe's wishes, Lee Strasberg had never distributed her effects amongst her friends, and in 1999 Anna Strasberg commissioned Christie's to auction them, netting $13.4 million.[48] In 2000, she founded Marilyn Monroe LLC.[49]

Marilyn Monroe LLC's claim to exclusive ownership of Monroe's publicity rights became subject to a "landmark [legal] case" in 2006, when the heirs of three freelance photographers who had photographed her –Sam Shaw, Milton Greene, and Tom Kelley– successfully challenged the company in courts in California and New York.[46][49] In May 2007, the courts determined that Monroe could not have passed her publicity rights to her estate, as the first law granting such right, the California Celebrities Rights Act, was not passed until 1985.[46][lower-alpha 3]

The estate terminated their business relationship with CMG Worldwide in 2010, and sold the licensing rights to Authentic Brands Group the following year.[46][53] Also in 2010, the estate sold Monroe's Brentwood home for $3.8 million,[54] and published a selection of her private notes, diaries and correspondence as a book called Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters.[55]

Conspiracy theories

1960s: Frank A. Capell, Jack Clemmons

There were no widespread conspiracy theories about Monroe's death in the 1960s.[56] The first allegations that she had been murdered originated in anti-communist activist Frank A. Capell's self-published pamphlet The Strange Death of Marilyn Monroe (1964), in which he claimed that her death was part of a communist conspiracy. He claimed that Monroe and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy had an affair, which she took too seriously and was threatening to cause a scandal; Kennedy therefore ordered her to be assassinated to protect his career.[57][58] In addition to accusing Kennedy of being a communist sympathizer, Capell also claimed that many other people close to Monroe, such as her doctors and ex-husband Arthur Miller, were communists.[57][58]

Monroe with U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (left) and President John F. Kennedy (right) at the latter's birthday celebration in 1962. Many of the conspiracy theories allege that the Kennedy brothers were involved in her death.

Capell's credibility has been seriously questioned, as his only source was columnist Walter Winchell, who in turn had received much of his information from him; Capell was therefore citing himself.[57][58] He was aided in developing his pamphlet by his friend, LAPD Sergeant Jack Clemmons, who became a central source for conspiracy theorists.[59] Clemmons was the first police officer on the scene of Monroe's death, and later made claims which he had not mentioned in the official investigation in 1962: when he arrived at Monroe's house, her housekeeper was washing her sheets, and he had "a sixth sense" that something was wrong.[60]

Capell and Clemmons' allegations have been seen as linked to their political goals. Capell dedicated his life to revealing an "International Communist Conspiracy" and Clemmons was a member of The Police and Fire Research Organization (FiPo), which sought to expose "subversive activities which threaten our American way of life".[57][58] FiPo and similar organizations were known for their stance against the Kennedys and for sending the Federal Bureau of Investigation letters incriminating them; a 1964 FBI file speculating on an affair between Monroe and Robert F. Kennedy is likely to have come from them.[57][58] Furthermore, Capell and Clemmons, along with a third person, were indicted by a California grand jury in 1965 for "conspiracy to libel by obtaining and distributing a false affidavit" claiming that senator Thomas Kuchel had once been arrested for a homosexual act.[59] They had done this because Kuchel had supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[59] Capell pleaded guilty, and charges against Clemmons were dropped after he resigned from the LAPD.[59]

In the 1960s, Monroe's death was also discussed in Charles Hamblett's Who Killed Marilyn Monroe? (1966) and in James A. Hudson's The Mysterious Death of Marilyn Monroe (1968).[61] Neither Capell's, Hamblett's, or Hudson's accounts were widely disseminated.[56]

1970s: Norman Mailer, Robert Slatzer, Anthony Scaduto

The murder allegations first became part of mainstream discussion with the publication of Norman Mailer's Marilyn: A Biography in 1973.[62] Despite not having any evidence to prove it, Mailer repeated the claim that Monroe and Robert F. Kennedy had an affair, and speculated that she was killed by either the FBI or CIA, who wished to use the murder as a "point of pressure ... against the Kennedys."[63] The book was heavily criticized in reviews, and later that year Mailer recanted his allegations in an interview with Mike Wallace for 60 Minutes, stating that he had made them to ensure commercial success for his book, and that he believes Monroe's death was "ten to one" an "accidental suicide".[63]

Two years later, Robert F. Slatzer published The Life and Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe (1975), based on Capell's pamphlet.[64][65] In addition to his assertion that Monroe was killed by Robert F. Kennedy, Slatzer also controversially claimed to have been married to Monroe in Mexico for three days in October 1952, and that they had remained close friends until her death.[64][65] Although his account was not widely circulated at the time, it has remained central to conspiracy theories.[66]

In October 1975, rock journalist Anthony Scaduto published an article about Monroe's death in soft porn magazine Oui, and the following year expanded his account into book form as Who Killed Marilyn Monroe? (1976), published under the pen name Tony Sciacca. His only sources were Slatzer and his private investigator, Milo Speriglio.[67][68] In addition to repeating Slatzer's claims, Scaduto alleged that Monroe had kept a red diary in which she had written confidential political information she had heard from the Kennedys, and that her house had been wiretapped by surveillance expert Bernard Spindel on the orders of union leader Jimmy Hoffa, who was hoping to obtain incriminating evidence he could use against the Kennedys.[67][68]

1980s: Milo Speriglio, Anthony Summers

In 1982, Slatzer's private detective Milo Speriglio published Marilyn Monroe: Murder Cover-Up, in which he claimed that Monroe had been murdered by Jimmy Hoffa and mob boss Sam Giancana.[69] Basing his account on Slatzer and Scaduto's books, Speriglio added statements made by Lionel Grandison, who worked at the Los Angeles County coroner's office at the time of Monroe's death.[69] Grandison claimed that Monroe's body had been extensively bruised but this had been omitted from the autopsy report, and that he had seen the "red diary", but it had mysteriously disappeared.[69]

Speriglio and Slatzer demanded that the investigation into Monroe's death be re-opened by authorities, and the Los Angeles District Attorney agreed to review the case.[69] The new investigation could not find any evidence to support the murder claims.[69] Grandison was found to not be a reliable witness as he had been fired from the coroner's office for stealing from corpses.[69] The allegations that Monroe's home was wiretapped by Bernard Spindel were also found to be false. Spindel's apartment had been raided by the Manhattan District Attorney's office in 1966, during which his tapes were seized.[69] He later made a claim that he had wiretapped Monroe's house, but it was not supported by the contents of the tapes, which the investigators had listened to.[69]

Anthony Summers, one of the most prominent biographers to allege that Monroe's death involved a cover-up

The most prominent Monroe conspiracy theorist in the 1980s was British journalist Anthony Summers, whose book Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe (1985) is one of the most commercially successful Monroe biographies.[70] Prior to writing on Monroe, he had authored a book on a conspiracy theory of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. His investigation on Monroe began as an assignment for the British tabloid the Sunday Express to cover the Los Angeles District Attorney's 1982 review.[70]

According to Summers, Monroe was psychotic and severely addicted to drugs and alcohol in the last months of her life, and had affairs with both Kennedy brothers.[71] When Robert F. Kennedy ended their affair, she threatened to reveal their association, which Kennedy and Peter Lawford attempted to prevent by enabling her addictions.[71] Hysterical Monroe accidentally overdosed, and died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.[71] As Kennedy wanted to leave Los Angeles before the death became public, Monroe's body was returned to her house and the overdose was staged as a suicide by Lawford, the Kennedys and J. Edgar Hoover.[71]

Summers based his account on interviews he had conducted with 650 people connected to Monroe, but his research has been criticized by biographers Donald Spoto and Sarah Churchwell.[70] According to Spoto, Summers contradicts himself, presents false information as fact, and misrepresents what some of Monroe's friends said about her.[72] Churchwell has stated that while Summers accumulated a large collection of anecdotal material, most of his allegations are speculation; many of the people he interviewed could provide only second- or third-hand accounts, and they "relate what they believe, not what they demonstrably know."[73] Summers was also the first major biographer to find Slatzer a credible witness, and relies heavily on testimonies by other controversial witnesses, including Jack Clemmons and Jeanne Carmen, a woman whose claim to have been Monroe's close friend has been disputed by Spoto and Lois Banner.[74][75]

Summers' theory was discussed in BBC's documentary Marilyn: Say Goodbye to the President (1985), and in a 26-minute segment produced for ABC's 20/20.[72] The 20/20 segment was however never aired, as the channel's news executive Roone Arledge decided that the claims made in it required more evidence to back them up.[72] In retaliation, Summers alleged that Arledge's decision was influenced by pressure from the Kennedys.[76]

1990s: Brown and Barham, Donald H. Wolfe, Donald Spoto

In the 1990s, two new books alleged again that Monroe was murdered: Peter Brown and Patte Barham's Marilyn: The Last Take (1992) and Donald H. Wolfe's The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe (1998). Neither presented much new evidence but relied extensively on Capell and Summers as well as on disputed witnesses such as Grandison, Slatzer, Clemmons, and Carmen; Wolfe also did not provide any sources for many of his claims, and disregarded many of the findings of the autopsy without explanation.[77]

In his 1993 biography of Monroe, Donald Spoto disputed the previous conspiracy theories, but alleged that Monroe's death was an accidental overdose staged as a suicide.[78] According to him, her doctors Greenson and Engelberg had been trying to stop her abuse of Nembutal, and to monitor her drug use had agreed to never prescribe her anything without first consulting with each other.[79] Monroe was able to persuade Engelberg to break his promise by lying to him that Greenson had agreed to it. She took several Nembutals on August 4, but did not tell this to Greenson, who prescribed her a chloral hydrate enema; the combination of these two drugs killed her.[79] Afraid of the consequences, the doctors and Monroe's housekeeper then staged the death as a suicide.[79]

Spoto argued that Monroe could not have been suicidal because she had reached a new agreement with 20th Century-Fox, and because she was allegedly going to remarry Joe DiMaggio.[79] He based his theory of her death on alleged discrepancies in the police statements given by Monroe's housekeeper and doctors, a claim made by Monroe's publicist Arthur P. Jacobs's wife that he had been alerted of the death already at 10:30 p.m., as well as on claims made by prosecutor John Miner, who was involved in the official investigation. Miner had alleged that her autopsy revealed signs more consistent with an enema than oral ingestion.[79]

2000s: John Miner, Matthew Smith

John Miner's allegations that Monroe's death was not a suicide received more publicity in the 2000s, when he published transcripts that he claimed to have made from audio tapes recorded by Monroe shortly before her death.[80][81] Miner claimed that Monroe gave the tapes to her psychiatrist Dr. Greenson, who invited him to listen to them after her death. On the tapes, Monroe spoke of her plans for the future, which Miner argues is proof that she could not have killed herself.[80] She also discussed her sex life and using enemas; Miner alleges that Monroe was killed by an enema administered by her housekeeper.[82]

Miner's allegations have received criticism. During the official review of the case by the district attorney in 1982, he told the investigators about the tapes, but did not mention that he had transcripts of them.[81] Miner claimed that this was because Greenson had sworn him to silence.[81] The tapes themselves have never been found, and Miner remains the only person to claim they existed; Greenson was already dead before Miner went public with them.[80]

Biographer Lois Banner, who knew Miner personally as both worked at the University of Southern California, has further challenged the authenticity of the transcripts.[82] Miner had once lost his license to practice law for several years, lied to Banner about having worked for the Kinsey Institute, and had gone bankrupt shortly before selling the alleged transcripts.[82] He had first attempted to sell the transcripts to Vanity Fair, but when the magazine had asked him to show them to Anthony Summers in order to validate them, it had become apparent that he did not have them.[82] The transcripts, which Miner finally sold to British author Matthew Smith, were therefore written several decades after he alleged to have listened to the tapes.[82] Miner's claim that Monroe's housekeeper was in fact her nurse and administered her enemas on a regular basis is also not supported by evidence.[82] Furthermore, Banner writes that Miner had a personal obsession about enemas and practised sadomasochism; she concludes that his theory about Monroe's death "represented his sexual interests" and was not based on evidence.[82]

Matthew Smith published the transcripts as part of his book Victim: The Secret Tapes of Marilyn Monroe (2003). He asserted that Monroe was murdered by the CIA due to her association with Robert F. Kennedy, as the agency wanted revenge for the Kennedys' handling of the Bay of Pigs Invasion.[80] Smith had already written about the topic in his previous book, The Men Who Murdered Marilyn (1996).[80] Noting that Smith included no footnotes in his 1996 book and only eight in Victim, Churchwell has called his account "a tissue of conjecture, speculation and pure fiction as documentary fact" and "arguably the least factual of all Marilyn lives".[80] The Miner transcripts were also discussed in a 2005 Los Angeles Times article.[81]


  1. Monroe first admitted herself to the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic in New York, at the suggestion of her psychiatrist Marianne Kris.[7] Kris later stated that her choice of hospital was a mistake: Monroe was placed on a ward meant for severely mentally ill people with psychosis, where she was locked in a padded cell and was not allowed to move to a more suitable ward or to leave the hospital.[7] Monroe was finally able to leave the hospital after three days with the help of her ex-husband Joe DiMaggio, and moved to the Columbia University Medical Center, spending a further 23 days there.[7]
  2. Their version remained largely uncontested until 1990, when the surviving footage from Something's Got to Give was released, showing that when Monroe had turned up on set, she had been coherent and able to film several scenes.[17] According to a later statement by the film's producer Henry Weinstein, her dismissal was linked to the studio's severe financial problems and the inexperience of head executive Peter Levathes, rather than solely caused by her being difficult to work with.[18]
  3. Soon after, in October 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 771, for which Anna Strasberg and the Screen Actors Guild amongst others had lobbied, and which established that non-family members may inherit rights of publicity through the residuary clause of the deceased's will, provided that the person was a resident of California at the time of death.[46][50] However, it did not help the estate, as the United States District Court in Los Angeles ruled in March 2008 that Monroe was a resident of New York at the time of her death, citing the statement of the executor of her estate to California tax authorities, and a 1966 affidavit by her housekeeper.[51] The decision was reaffirmed by the United States District Court of New York in September 2008.[52] Anna Strasberg was subsequently fined $200,000 and ordered to pay $30,000 by a New York court "for delaying the handing over of documents showing that Monroe was legally a New Yorker on her death."[46]



  1. 1 2 3 Hertel, Howard; Neff, Don (August 6, 1962). "From the Archives: Marilyn Monroe Dies; Pills Blamed". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  2. Spoto 2001, pp. 328–329, 368–376; Churchwell 2004, p. 238; Banner 2012, pp. 211–214.
  3. Banner 2012, p. 335.
  4. Riese & Hitchens 1988, p. 270; Solomon 1988, p. 139; Spoto 2001, pp. 435-445;456; Churchwell 2004, p. 266; Banner 2012, pp. 353-356;361.
  5. Spoto 2001, pp. 450–455.
  6. Spoto 2001, pp. 453, for a new role, 466–467 for operations, 456–464 for psychiatric hospital stays.
  7. 1 2 3 Spoto 2001, pp. 456–459.
  8. Spoto 2001, pp. 465–470, 484–485.
  9. Spoto 2001, pp. 495–496; Churchwell 2004, pp. 74–75.
  10. 1 2 Spoto 2001, pp. 524–525; Banner 2012, pp. 391–392; Rollyson 2014, pp. 264–272.
  11. Spoto 2001, pp. 520–521; Churchwell 2004, pp. 284–285.
  12. Rollyson 2014, p. 17; Spoto 2001, pp. 488–493.
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