Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her bedroom on August 5th 1962 by her psychiatrist doctor Ralph Greenson. She was just 36 years old. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office ruled the death as “acute barbiturate poisoning” and “probable suicide”. However many people including the first police officer to arrive at the scene of the death believed she was murdered.
For fifty years her death has been a subject of conjecture and conspiracy theories have been rampant. Various people have been implicated in her death from the Kennedys to the Mafia to the FBI, time of death has never properly been established and murder has never been ruled out.
Who visited Marilyn the day before she died?
Like many an iconic figure who have gone to their graves young, the events leading up to Marilyn’s death are as mysterious, ambiguous and unclear as Marilyn herself. Many people supposedly visited Marilyn the day before she died – Bobby Kennedy, the FBI, a “mob boss” and Frank Sinatra’s rat pack.
This part of the puzzle seems to be shrouded in mystery but we know one thing – Marilyn’s close contact with the world’s most elite and powerful meant that she knew things and had information. Did somebody not trust Marilyn and want her dead?
Marilyn’s housekeeper Eunice Murray was a key witness but her version of events were so diverse and inconsistent that they were deemed worthless. We know that Eunice was around the night that Marilyn died. The housekeeper originally said she had knocked on Marilyn’s bedroom door at midnight and after receiving no answer called the doctor who broke in through the window after seeing Marilyn’s lifeless body.
However, Eunice Murray changed her version of events and then said that she actually went to bed at midnight and called Dr Greenson at 3am when she saw Marilyn’s bedroom light on was left on.
She went on to change her story many times and according to police reports, Murray was vague and extremely evasive. Was she being puppeted by somebody?
Eunice Murray took part in a 1985 BBC Investigation into Marilyn’s death. She told the same 1962 version of events. However, not realising her microphone was still on at the end of the interview and as she saw the cameras being packed away she said “Why, at my age, do I still have to cover this thing?”
Apparently she admitted that Monroe was not dead when the doctor arrived but she never revealed any more information and died in 1994.
So how did Marilyn die?
Official records tell us that Marilyn Monroe’s death was “acute barbiturate poisoning.” There was no further evidence of this though and it seems Marilyn wasn’t given a post-mortem, or if she was then it wasn’t recorded.
Basic standard procedures were not followed for some reason, records were not kept of her post-mortem – astonishing when you think how high profile a case this was. And then her organs were “thrown away”.
There has always been rumours that the FBI were at Marilyn’s house the day before she died. It was the time of the Cuban missile crisis, the political atmostphere was intense. The FBI were convinced that Marilyn was mixing with known communists and so they opened a file on her as a possible subversive. Could this have been a factor in her death?
Time of Death
At 4.30 a.m on the 5th August, two doctors indicate that the time of death was 12:30 a.m.
At 5:40 a.m undertaker Guy Hockett arrives and notes that the state of rigor mortis indicates that the time of death would have been earlier between 9:30pm and 11:30 p.m
At 6am both doctors change their stories and now claim Monroe died around 3:50 a.m, so even later on into the evening.
What is baffling though is that Monroe’s lawyer, Mickey Rudin called Monroe’s agent Arthur Jacobs at 10.30pm to tell him that Marilyn had overdosed. Rudin then called actor Peter Lawford at 1am to tell him that Marilyn was dead. So how could time of death be 3.50am?
All we know is – somewhere between 4th August at 9.30pm and 3.50am on the 5th August, Marilyn Monroe died. At least we think…
So was it suicide?
Many camps have quashed the theory that Marilyn took her own life. Her psychiatrist had recorded many interviews with her and when the interviews were analysed it showed Marilyn to be positive and fairly optimistic. These tapes subsequently disappeared.
Marilyn was also looking forward to getting back to filming and she felt that her therapy was working. What’s more – Marilyn bought an expensive piece of furniture the day before she died. Apparently this is not the action of someone who is thinking of taking their own life.
Or was it an accident?
So if Marilyn wasn’t murded and if she didn’t commit suicide, then the most likely possibility is that Marilyn accidentally overdosed on drugs.
An accident could quite easily have been what happened. Yet even this explanation isn’t without its problems. Marilyn, prone to pill-popping, had a good idea of how much was too much, and if in doubt she had plenty of expert medical advice around her. Marilyn Monroe was an intelligent lady and it seems unlikely that she’d fill herself with pills by mistake.
The glass tumbler
And then there is the case of the missing glass. When Police searched Marilyn’s bedroom, they noted that there were a number of pill bottles in the bedroom but there was no glass and no water in the bedroom to wash down the pills. Marilyn apparently was known to struggle with washing down pills and needed big gulps of water, so it was strange that there was no drinking vessel in the bedroom. Mysteriously a glass was later found on the floor by her bed but police swear that it wasn’t there when they first searched the room.
Dial MM for Murder
Theories and rumours of murder have always been linked to Marilyn’s death and often the Kennedy’s name has been linked with that night.
She was a security risk to President John F Kennedy’s government having had an affair with him and known him intimately.
The CIA had placed electronic surveillance on Marilyn because of her closeness with the Kennedys.
Did US Attorney General, Robert Kennedy visit Marilyn on the night she died? Her housekeeper seemed to think so. There had been a violent argument in the house that night apparently which Marilyn’s doctor had to calm down.
The boy who was in the house…
But there was someone else there too. In a recent interview, the housekeeper’s son-in-law, Norman Jeffries, said that he was there that fateful night and he said that Robert Kennedy turned up with two men at 10pm on the night that Marilyn died.
He and his mother-in-law were ushered out of the house and when they returned they found Marilyn’s comotosed body in the guest cottage. Jeffries claims that it was the Los Angeles Police Department intelligence division that turned up and moved Marilyn’s body to the main house to create the “suicide in the locked bedroom” scenario.
Or was it a tragic medical accident?
Rachael Bell wrote for Court TV’s Crime library that a sedative enema might have been the cause of Marilyn’s death. Marilyn’s pyschiatrist, Dr. Greenson had been working with Dr. Hyman Engelberg to wean Marilyn off Nembutal, substituting instead chloral hydrate to help her sleep.
Bell theorises that Greenson was unaware that Engelberg had filled Monroe’s prescription for the barbiturate Nembutal a day earlier and when Greenson administered the chloral hydrate, the two substances reacted and killed Monroe. Lawyer Mickey Rudin claimed that Greenson said “Gosh darn it! He gave her a prescription I didn’t know about!”
Did the two doctors screw up and cover their tracks?
British Pathe have a number of clips that are worth watching: