The Death of Marilyn Monroe

Her Candle Burned Out Long Before the Legend Ever Did

Few actresses conjure up as much admiration, emulation and yet anguish and accusations as a troubled young starlet the world would come to know as Marilyn Monroe. Born Norma Jean Mortenson (but baptized Norma Jean Baker) in Los Angeles on June 1, 1926, Norma Jean would endure an unstable childhood that included the absence of both parents - her mother was committed to a mental institution, and her father was killed in a motorcycle crash when she was around 3. Adding to her troubles, somewhere along the line, in the confusing web of foster care and temporary homes, Norma Jean was raped (possibly at the age of 8), the side effects of which, left her with the tendency to stutter when she spoke.

In 1942, at the age of sixteen, Norma Jean would marry a young Merchant Marine named James Dougherty. But because of his long periods of absence while serving overseas, Norma Jean would eventually divorce Dougherty as her modeling career began to bear fruit. (click here to see some nude photographs of Marilyn - caution: partial nudity!) She would later change her name to Marilyn Monroe and sign a motion picture deal with Twentieth Century Fox and make her fist film, Dangerous Years in 1947. The film was not successful however and Marilyn was let go by the studio. Think the studio execs wish they had a do-over on that executive decision? Less than a year later Marilyn Monroe would pose nude for the now famous Tom Kelley "Red Velvet" calendar shot.{googleads}

An Easy Way Out?

Meanwhile, Marilyn would begin dating her vocal coach, Fred Karger, before attempting to end her own life after he dumped her. That she viewed suicide as an easy way out of her problems was already surfacing as a dangerous tendency. A dark, gaping crack was beginning to open up in Marilyn's life.

Marilyn Monroe six toesApparently Fox did get a do-ever when Marilyn signed back on with the studio. A series of major motion pictures, some failures, some hits, would keep Marilyn busy and working for the next 4 or 5 years. Yet another marriage, this time to baseball's Joe DiMaggio, would come and go, providing Marilyn with an impetus to move to New York and further her film studies. The release of Bus Stop in 1956 would propel Marilyn's career to yet another high. But rather than relish the fame and fortune, Marilyn would turn to the pill and bottle. She declined numerous movie opportunities with Fox, preferring to drink her Dom Perignon champagne instead. In June of 1956, Marilyn would marry the much older playwright Arthur Miller. After enduring yet another film failure, Marilyn would eventually star in Some Like it Hot, propelling her career into the stratosphere. As her Death of a Salesman author husband Miller penned what was to be her next big screen vehicle, Marilyn would suffer more drinking setbacks, emotional breakdowns and even several miscarriages. In 1961, Marilyn and Miller would divorce and shortly thereafter Marilyn would check herself into Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic in Manhattan. Marilyn was at an all-time low.


By 1962, she had settled into a one-story bungalow in Brentwood at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive. Marilyn lived by herself but spent a lot of time with her housekeeper Eunice Murray who would often drive to her own home in the late evenings.

The Death of Marilyn MonroeAs Marilyn began working on a new film with Dean Martin, her troubles would once again begin to wreak havoc on not only her mood, but on the entire set as well. She would often turn up missing for days, blaming her absence on various and sundry illnesses, mood swings and wadded panties. It was soon discovered by the studio however, that during one of her bouts of "illness" she had gone to New York to sing happy birthday to President John F. Kennedy leaving the world with, unfortunately, one her most well known singing performances. Shortly thereafter, it is believed Marilyn had an illegal abortion. I'm not implicating anyone here, but let's just sit and ponder what complications would have arisen had she had a child with a Kennedy. I'm just saying!

August 4, 1962

On the evening of August 4, 1962, after a visit by her psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph R. Greenson, Marilyn would retreat to her chamber around 8:00 pm carrying her hallway telephone extension and perhaps a bottle of pills. Remember that back then there were no wireless phones so Marilyn had to drag the phone with its long extension cord down the hallway and into her bedroom.

Marilyn Monroe BedShe would make several phone calls that evening, one of which was supposedly to Peter Lawford who had introduced her to the Kennedys. Lawford became somewhat distressed by the call because he was a bit uncomfortable with what sounded like to him a final goodbye. But rather than pay a personal visit, Lawford claims that he contacted Monroe's agent who eventually called Marilyn's house. Answering that call, at around 9:30 pm. was Marilyn's housekeeper, Eunice, who saw the phone cord trailing into Marilyn's room and hastily surmised that she must be OK. No one knows exactly how many calls Marilyn made that night and to whom she would have placed these calls because telephone records for that address on that evening mysteriously disappeared, having been confiscated by the phone company. Not that I'm implicating anybody here, but what scandal might have erupted had it been made known that Marilyn had placed a call that evening to a very well-known address on Pennsylvania Avenue before committing suicide? I'm just saying!

A Discovery

In the wee hours of the morning of August 5, 1962, green police sergeant, Jack Clemmons, would receive a phone call from Dr. Hyman Engelberg that Marilyn Monroe had died from an overdose of pills. After personally driving out to the modest home in Brentwood, Sgt, Clemmons would find Dr. Engleberg accompanied by Eunice and at least one other individual who all led him to Marilyn's bedroom. He saw Marilyn's nude body sprawled face down and positioned diagonally across her bed, her left hand touching the telephone on the nightstand. Next to the telephone were several (some reports say as many as 10-14) empty prescription pill bottles including one that contained several capsules of Nembutal and chloral hydrate (remember this for later.) A more thorough examination failed to turn up a glass that might have been used for water to help down the pills. Upon inquiring about the bathroom, Eunice informed Sgt, Clemmons it was out of order and had no running water. Another curious observation was made by Sgt. Clemmons when he noticed that Eunice had been doing laundry and general tidying up around the house. When questioned, Eunice said that she knew the coroner would eventually come and rope off the house for crime scene investigation, so she wanted the place to look nice.

Marilyn Monroe Life Magazine COverSgt. Clemmons noticed that Marilyn's body was in an advanced state of rigor mortis which meant it had been dead for several hours. Upon further questioning, it was revealed by Eunice that she noticed Marilyn's locked door sometime after midnight. Upon receiving no answer after several knocks, Eunice would become concerned and call Dr. Engleberg who was subsequently unable to arouse Marilyn by knocking on the door. The pair would then go around outside and peek in through her window. Only after breaking the window with a fireplace poker were they able to gain entry into Marilyn's bedroom. But it was too late. The 36 year-old actress was already dead. Four hours had passed before Eunice contacted the authorities. I'm not implicating anyone here, but that's way more time than would be necessary to call Marilyn's studios and some of her business associates, as Eunice claimed. I'm just saying!

Marilyn's body was taken to Westwood Village Mortuary and the house was sealed and placed under guard for further investigation. Later, Marilyn's corpse would be transferred to the county morgue, where LA County Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Noguchi (who would later perform an autopsy on actress Natalie Wood, another victim of suspicious circumstances) would perform the autopsy. Noguchi's official investigation attributed Marilyn's death to a lethal overdose of Nembutal and chloral hydrate. Probably suicide. Dr. Noguchi would change his case several times, however, attributing the discrepancies to his youth and inexperience, and at one time claimed to have been pressured by his superiors into signing his original autopsy report.

Probable Suicide?

Among some of the oddities surrounding Marilyn's death are some facts about the drugs she supposedly took and the reaction those drugs have inside the body. Head coroner Dr. Theodore Curphey would corroborate Noguchi's story that Marilyn died from a drug overdose of Nembutal and chloral hydrate. He estimated that Marilyn had taken at least 50 pills at once, in spite of the fact that there was no water around! Another curiosity was with the type of drugs Marilyn had supposedly ingested. Nembutal capsules, when digested, leave a yellow discoloration on the lining of the intestine. But there was no such discoloration noted in Marilyn's autopsy. In fact, no partially digested capsules even existed in her digestive tract. Seems like on top of everything else, the autopsy was botched! Also, the "official" death certificate listed the cause of death as "probable suicide" with the word "probable" inscribed in pencil.

Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggioIt might also be worthy of mention that Mrs, Eunice Murray, Marilyn's housekeeper had been fired earlier in the day of Marilyn's death. I'm just stating the facts here. Not trying to implicate anyone.

Red Roses

Joe DiMaggio, who had continued to stay in touch with Marilyn even after their divorce would fly down from San Francisco to oversee the funeral arrangements. Lee Strasberg would deliver Marilyn Monroe's eulogy before her burial at Westwood Village Memorial Park where, for the next 20 years, red roses were placed in a vase attached to the crypt, courtesy of Joe DiMaggio.

Marilyn Monroe TombMarilyn would leave a trust fund of $100,000 for her mother, who was still institutionalized at the time of her daughter's death but was eventually laid to rest in 1984. It would take seven years for all the legalities and details of the estate to get worked out, but now through royalties and proceeds of her movies and likeness, Marilyn's estate earns more than $1 million annually, with most of the proceeds going to Anna Strasberg, the widow of Marilyn's acting mentor. A nice bit of scratch for Ms. Strasberg for doing absolutely nothing. Hmmm, I wonder?...surely not!

We understand there is an existing photo of Marilyn's body while still on her bed. If anyone has this photo or knows of a link, please let us know by sending an e-mail. 

UPDATE: Morbidly Hollywood friend Keithy gave us the lowdown on Norma Jean's birth name. Apparently we had originally reported it incorrectly.


More Marilyn Monroe Stuff:

Marilyn Monroe Housekeeper Eunice
Mrs. Eunice Murray, Marilyn Monroe's housekeeper.


Marilyn Monroe Drugs
A policeman points to an empty Nembutal bottle on Marilyn's night stand, next to where she was found dead. Click here to see the rest of this photo which contains a deceased Marilyn in her bed.


Marilyn Monroe Dead Photo
Thanks to Morbidly Hollywood friend CO for providing us with what is purportedly the toe tag morgue photo of Marilyn Monroe. Thanks CO!


Marilyn Monroe Death Bed
Does anyone have any information about this photo? Possibly a dead Marilyn in her bed? Morbidly Hollywood friend "Jerseygirls" found this photo and wonders about its authenticity. If anyone has any credible facts or opinions, we'd love to hear them.
Post here (anonymously if you'd like) with any information you might have.

Update: Read about the authenticity of this photo here


Marilyn Monroe's Bedroom
Marilyn Monroe's Bedroom at the time of the investigation of her death.


News footage of Marilyn Monroe's funeral.


Marilyn Monroe House Map
Map indicating (green arrow) the location of Marilyn's Brentwood home at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive (click for enlarged view). Apparently, the house is still there. How cool would it be to live in the very house where Marilyn Monroe died? OK, maybe not.


Marilyn Monroe House

Marilyn Monroe House

Marilyn Monroe  House

Marilyn Monroe House satellite view
Marilyn Monroe's property (yellow line) on 5th Helena Drive W.


Marilyn Monroe caricature
Morbidly Hollywood friend Larry D sent us his illustration of Marilyn Monroe. Thanks Larry!


Marilyn Monroe's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Marilyn Monroe's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


Parisian Florist
Parisian Florist, where Joe DiMaggio bought flowers three times a week for Marilyn's grave... for twenty years.



Paramount Studios
The view of the Paramount Studios water tower from Marilyn's window at the Hollygrove Orphanage which allowed her to dream of one day becoming a movie star.


Marilyn's plaque at Grauman's theater

Pretty cool wish fountain outside Grauman's Chinese Theater.


Mariyln Monroe in training

Photo taken by LIFE photographer J. R. Eyerman in the fall of 1948, before the young star had made it big.


Mariyln Monroe Julien

Rare photo discovered in March 2012 from the files of Monroe personal makeup artist Allan "Whitey" Snyder. Here he's applying make-up to a lingerie-clad Monroe on the set of 1960's Let's Make Love.

Some Marilyn Monroe External Links

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