Intriguing mysteries: The death of Marilyn Monroe
Lonely distraught and under pressure, Marilyn Monroe felt her life had become unmanagable, and then killed herself. At least, that's the official version. But what really happened?
Did Marilyn Monroe kill herself?
There is no doubt that Monroe had been depressed.
She had always struggled against the demands of her stardom and she relied on a regimen of psychiatric treatment and drugs to help her cope. She had recently been fired for constant lateness from her latest film for 10th Century Fox, and her many marriages—her high-profile husbands included baseball legend Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller—had all ended in divorce.
She told Lawford drowsily,
"Say goodbye to the president "
The official story
On the evening of August 4 1962, Marilyn Monroe telephoned Peter Lawford, the British actor who was also the husband of John F Kennedy's sister, Pat. Monroe's voice was strangely slurred, and she ended their conversation ominously. "Say goodbye to Pat," she told Lawford drowsily. "Say goodbye to the president and say goodbye to yourself because you're a nice guy."
Hours later, the most enduring sex symbol ever to grace the American screen was found dead in her Los Angeles mansion, her graceful body lying face down and naked on her bed.
Eunice Murray, Monroe's housekeeper claimed that she noticed a light on in the bedroom around 3.30 am; troubled, she called Monroe's psychologist, Dr Ralph Greenson and her personal physician, Dr Hyman Engelberg. Greenson arrived around 3.40 and found Monroe's body; when Engleberg arrived a few minutes later, he pronounced her dead. The coroner's report subsequently listed the cause of her death as "acute barbiturate poisoning, ingestion of overdose," and "probable suicide".
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A Kennedy connection?
But the official version of Monroe's death fails to account for the discrepancies that might indicate murder. Many of the most prominent witnesses involved with the case later cast doubt on their original reports. Some alleged that thy were forced to participate in a cover-up, and have implied tat the cover-up was designed to protect President Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
Speculation that Monroe had had an affair with the president had been rampant since May 1962, when Monroe performed the seductive "Happy Birthday" number for him, singing to the president in front of a crowd of 20,000 people at Madison Square Garden. It is now known that Monroe and the president were among overnight guests at Bing Crosby's house in Palm Springs on the same evening, and met on several other occasions.
"I might just call a press
conference and tell them
all about it."
It is also speculated that Monroe was involved in an even longer term affair with Robert Kennedy, the president's brother, who may have been trying to distract Monroe from a mutually damaging relationship with the president.
Conspiracy theories abound about the Kennedy connection and Monroe's death. Could she have been killed to prevent her from going public with her relationships with the two leading members of the most prominent political family in America? Was Robert trying to end his affair with Marilyn at the time of her death?
A few days before her death, Monroe purportedly told the writer Robert Slatzer that if "Bobby" continued to avoid her, "I might just call a press conference and tell them all about it."
In his biography of the deceased star, Slatzer alleged that Bobby had actually visited Monroe on the day she died, and spent the night at the home of his brother-in-law Peter Lawford. But who really knows the truth?
Seymour Hersh, while writing the biography The Dark Side of Camelot, uncovered documents proposing that Bobby had set up a trust fund for Monroe's mother, supposedly to buy Monroe's silence—but after further investigation, the documents were found to be false.
Read more: Marilyn Monroe: A life in pictures
Monroe's phone was tapped
by both the Justice Department
of Robert Kennedy and
Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa
The Mafia connection
Monroe's death has also long been tied to the Mafia, who had a long and adversarial relationship with the Kennedys; they may have struck out at her to get back at John and Bobby.
There exists evidence that in the months before her death, Monroe's phone was tapped by both the Justice Department of Robert Kennedy and the agents of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa.
Was Monroe really a pawn caught between the country's most powerful criminals and politicians? No one knows, but the medical explanation for her death is full of holes.
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Who killed Marilyn Monroe?
The suicide investigation reported that Monroe swallowed "one gulp" of around 47 Nembutal pills; but her prescription, given to her by Dr Engelberg, was for only 25 pills.
If Monroe had killed herself by swallowing the pills, the residue from their digestion should have been found in her stomach; they were not.
It has been speculated that Monroe died of an injected overdose of drugs, but she had no access to injection barbituates—the injection would have had to come from another source.
The coroner's report said that there were no puncture marks on Monroe's body, but Dr Engelberg's bill to her estate showed he had given her an injection the day before her death; that mark should have been clearly visible.
Was Marilyn Monroe administered a homicidal injection which the coroner's report covered up? The answer may never be known. But given Marilyn's complicated connections with so many men in positions of power, a cloud of suspicion may always hang over the events of that August night.
What do you think really happened?