The Death of Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926, in the charity ward of Los Angeles County Hospital (her mother Gladys was both poor and mentally unstable) and baptized Norma Jeane Baker shortly thereafter. She died under mysterious circumstances at her home in Brentwood, Los Angeles, on August 5, 1962. She was 36.

The Los Angeles County Coroner, Doctor Thomas Noguchi, ruled the death to be acute barbiturate poisoning and probable suicide. Others of a different mind such as Jack Clemmons begged to differ, the Los Angeles Police Sergeant and first officer on the scene called it murder: "Marilyn was lying face down in what I call the soldier's position," stated Clemmons. "Her hands were by her side and her legs were stretched out perfectly straight. It was the most obviously staged death scene I have ever seen. The pill bottles on her bedside table had been arranged in neat order and the body deliberately positioned. It all looked too tidy."

But strangely, though the days on and after her death were liberally laced with both inconsistencies and contradictions, some quite glaring, murder charges were neither laid nor pursued.

From such, conspiracy theories are born:

Joe DiMaggio Jr. the son of baseball great Joe DiMaggio, Marilyn’s second husband, called Monroe shortly after 7:00 p.m. the evening of August 4. When questioned later as to her behavior, he replied “upbeat and cheerful.”

Peter Lawford, at the time President Kennedy’s brother-in-law, phoned at 7:30 p.m.(
according to phone records his was the last local call that night) Marilyn her voice slurred and virtually inaudible, telling him to “Say good-bye to the President and say good-bye to your self, because you’re a really nice guy.” Repeated callbacks by Lawford allegedly produced nothing but busy signals.

At 8 p.m. Lawford concerned contacted Eunice Murray, the housekeeper (hired by Monroe’s psychiatrist to watch over Marilyn) and was told Monroe was fine.

Clothing manufacturer Henry Rosenfeld, hairdresser Sydney Guilaroff and former boyfriend Jose Bolanos all claimed they talked to Monroe between the hours of 8 and 10 and that Monroe was both coherent and in good spirits. [1]

At around 10:00 Murray notices a light under Marilyn’s door but thought little of it.

Jeanne Carmen, B movie actress, a professed close friend and confident, later alleged that Marilyn phoned her sometime shortly after 10:00 p.m. and invited her over but because of the hour she declined. [2]

At around 10:30 p.m.Marilyn’s agent Arthur Jacobs left a concert at the Hollywood Bowl supposedly after being informed by Mickey Rudin, Marilyn’s lawyer, that the actress had overdosed (a time in keeping with the undertakers original estimate of the time of death).

At around midnight, Murray seeing the light under Munroe’s door still on, purportedly knocked a number of times and receiving no reply called Dr. Ralph Greenson, Monroe’s psychiatrist.

Greenson allegedly arrived shortly thereafter and unable to enter the bedroom broke the glass on the French windows. Finding Monroe unresponsive he phoned Dr. Hyman Engelberg, Monroe’s personal physician.

At around 1 a.m. the morning of August 5 Lawford was purportedly informed of Marilyn’s death by Rudin.

The police were called, responding at approximately 4:30 a.m. August 5. The housekeeper and doctors are questioned and the time of death established to be around 12:30 a.m. August 5.

Police commented that Monroe’s bedroom looked extremely neat and tidy with fresh linen on the bed. They also noted that the housekeeper was washing bed sheets when they arrived. (4:30 a.m.)

Pills were found in the room but with no way to wash them down (Monroe was known to have difficulty swallowing pills). Police claimed a glass later found near the bed was not there initially.

Guy Hockett the undertaker arrived at 5:40 a.m. August 5 and placed the time of death at between 9:30 and 11:30 p.m. August 4 (a time later changed to conform to that of the witnesses).

Subsequent to later questioning the three witnesses allegedly changed their stories, the housekeeper (appearing increasingly nervous and confused) now saying that after initially noticing a the light under the door at midnight she turned in, only calling Greenson after awakening 3 hours later and noticing the light still on. The doctors, seemingly falling in line, changed the time of death to shortly before 4:00 a.m. August 5.

Despite being the principal eyewitness Murray apparently left for Europe shortly after Monroe’s passing thus effectively sidestepping any further questions. [3]

Dr. Noguchi found no sign of drugs in either Monroe’s stomach or digestive tract, an indication that whatever had killed her was introduced by a method other than oral. Monroe was found face down, but “lividity” (a purplish discoloration due to the blood settling) indicated she had died on her back. There were a number of mostly minor bruises on her body, along with a bluish discoloration of the fingernails and mucous membranes (Cyanosis) indicating death was quick. The toxicologist (showing a serious lack of foresight) failed to comply with a request by Noguchi for a complete examination of internal organs, basically limiting his investigation to just the blood (in which copious amounts of  Nembutal and Chloral Hydrate were found), the problem further aggravated when photographs, samples and slides of what was examined went missing making it impossible to determine with certainty the method of drug entry (intravenous was ruled out and suppositories considered unlikely). Faced with the aforementioned and seeing no alternative, Noguchi, albeit reluctantly, wrote that the drugs were ingested orally.

Indeed, the circumstances with its twists, turns, discrepancies and contradictions made it difficult for investigators of all stripes to get a handle on exactly who was involved, what happened and when. Was it murder, suicide (accidental or otherwise) or was it something else.

She was murdered:

The unqualified favorite of conspiracy theorists, and why not. Marilyn was involved with the Kennedys and the Kennedys had enemies, foreign and domestic, any one of whom might have chosen to murder Monroe as a way of getting at the President.

The Kennedys themselves orchestrated the murder (Marilyn was a loose cannon “allegedly infatuated with the President and with unrealistic expectations of becoming First Lady” whose intimate relations with Jack and possibly Bobbie threatened the presidency as well as the political aspirations and private lives of both the brothers).

Though possible it's highly unlikely. It's one thing to plot the assassination of a third world dictator such as Fidel Castro (Operation Mongoose) quite another to be involved in the murder of a high profile American movie star. The brothers, especially Jack, were definitely guilty of certain personal indiscretions (as have been many other politicians) but the murder of Marilyn Monroe as a way of resolving the issue stretches the bounds of credibility,

She committed suicide, perhaps inadvertently:

Marilyn, heavily involved with alcohol and drugs had a history of overdosing and being resuscitated (the victim of violent mood swings, she had attempted suicide on numerous occasions).

James Bacon a Hollywood columnist, supposedly having visited the movie star a few days before her death, stated in an interview with The Times “She was drinking champagne and straight vodka and occasionally popping a pill, I said, ‘Marilyn the combination of pills and alcohol will kill you.’ And she said, ‘It hasn’t killed me yet.’ before taking another drink and popping another pill. I know at night she took barbiturates."

Peter Lawford is alleged to have stated, “Marilyn took her last big enema.”

Many people think Monroe was depressed and suicidal after being fired from her last movie “Something’s Gotta Give” due to irresponsible behavior and absenteeism but apparently she had been reinstated at a higher salary and was even being considered for future roles.

During the week before her death, long time friend and makeup artist Allan “Whitey” Snyder after paying her a visit stated “she never looked better and was in great spirits.” As rumor has it and on a more macabre note, Monroe, shortly before her death, asked him to give his word he would prepare her face if she died before him. A promise he broken heartedly fulfilled. He was also a pall-bearer at her funeral.

It was an accident:

There is another explanation, however, one which doesn’t involve sinister plots or mysterious assassins, a straightforward and under the circumstances somewhat understandable accident, the result of human error compounded by an equally human need to cover up ones mistakes in order to avoid possible penalty and/or censure.

Monroe had two doctors, physician Dr. Hyman Engelberg and psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson. They had been working together in an effort to wean Marilyn off Nembutal, substituting instead chloral hydrate, and the possibility strongly exists that a lack of communication between the two resulted in a drug overdose.

If Marilyn had been self administering Nembutal during the day (prescribed by Greenson) and was then given a chloral hydrate enema (prescribed by Engelberg) and administered by Eunice Murray during the evening, the interaction would have proved fatal.

“God damn it! He gave her a prescription I didn’t know about!” A statement purportedly made by Greenson to Marilyn’s lawyer Milton Rudin the night of her death, would if true certainly lend credibility to this hypothesis.

Baseball great and second husband Joe DiMaggio (and some say her only true love) claimed her body, arranged her funeral and for twenty years had a half-dozen roses delivered three times a week to her final resting place. In 2006 his adopted granddaughters auctioned off his estate, included were two letters and a photograph signed “I love you, Joe, Marilyn."

[1] Somewhat suspiciously all Marilyn’s long distance phone records from the evening of August 4 were lost (there are rumors that Marilyn’s last phone call was to the White House).

[2] In 1998 a TV series called E! True Hollywood Story aired a documentary on Carmen in which it was alleged that mobster Johnny Roselli who purportedly worked for Chicago kingpin Sam Giancana (both later implicated in the assassination of John Kennedy along with Operation Mongoose the CIA plot to overthrow/kill Castro, and both later murdered by persons unknown) told her it would be a good idea if she left town. Whether true or not, following Monroe’s death, Carmen moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, living anonymously for over a decade a life far removed from her bombshell days in Hollywood. In December 2007, at the age of 77, the ex pin-up and B movie actress died from lymphoma at her home in Orange County, California, her residence since 1978.

[3] Years later following a BBC interview and thinking the microphone was off, Murray is alleged to have said “Why at my age, do I still have to cover this thing?” She then volunteered that Monroe had known the Kennedys intimately (something vehemently denied earlier by Ralph Greenson) and that when the doctors arrived Monroe was still alive.

Murray passed away on March 5, 1994, no further details forthcoming.

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