It is incredibly frustrating to those who wish to celebrate her lifetime achievements that her death takes centre stage. Her life is tarnished by her death filled with rumour, speculation, and conspiracy. However, with some research and knowledge on the basis of these stories we can determine that her death wasn’t as outlandish as so many (wish to) believe.
Our Marilyn Monroe (with the help of some reliable research accumulated from other Marilyn fans, research, science and common sense) will go through many of the conspiracies as well as documents, information from medical professionals past and present as well as common sense.
Firstly, it’s important to discuss what is known about Marilyn, what she did on the day of her death and when she was discovered.
Between 7th June and August 3rd, Marilyn had been prescribed over 740 pills. These were all signed by Dr Hyman Engelberg. The prescriptions were sold by Julien’s Auctions in 2011.
- Chloral Hydrate (100): A sedative used as an anaesthetic and sleep aid
- Librium (200): Used to treat anxiety and insomnia.
- Valmid (100): Sedative/hypnotic used for insomnia.
- Percodan (24): Pain reliever that is a combination of aspirin and oxycodone
- Lomotil (24): Diarrhoea medication
- Dexedrine (12): Amphetamine, stimulant
- Seconal (25): An anaesthetic and sedative
- Tuinal (25): Composed of two barbiturate salts (secobarbital sodium and amobarbital sodium) in equal proportions. Sedative for sleep
- Hydrozets (24): Throat lozenges
- Sulfa Gum: Used for sore throat
- Darvon (24): An opioid used for pain relief, no longer available.
- Sulfathalidine (36): Antibiotic
- Nembutal (25): Sedative
- Phenergan (25): Sedative/sleep aid
- Sombulex (100): Sedative
Invoices also show that Marilyn was administered injections by Engelberg, likely to be the “vitamin shots” that many Hollywood stars were given at the time.
Marilyn & Dr Greenson
Marilyn was incredibly close to her psychoanalyst, Dr Greenson. She had been his patient since 1960, on the recommendation of Marianne Kris.
He went above and beyond the usual patient and doctor relationship with Marilyn. She had spent time with his family, having dinners with them and speaking to him almost daily for hours on end. He had written in an article that doctors should be “emotionally involved in their patient’s life if they wanted to establish a trustworthy therapeutic relationship.”
In October 1961, Eunice Murray, her housekeeper, was hired on Dr Greenson’s recommendation. He had bought his house from Eunice and her husband in 1947 and she remained close with him and the family after her divorce. Mrs Murray also heavily relied on Dr Greenson, and simply followed “his orders” as stated by her son-in-law, Philippe Laclair.
Marilyn’s home at 12305 Helena Drive is also very similar in design to Dr Greenson’s. Eunice had chosen it in February 1961, with Dr Greenson accompanying Marilyn for approval. It is believed by many that he influenced Marilyn and her decisions with Mrs Murray reporting back to Dr Greenson what Marilyn had been doing, her moods etc.
Marilyn’s attorney, Milton Rudin was also Dr Greenson’s brother-in-law, once again showing how involved he had become in every aspect of Marilyn’s life.
It’s rumoured Marilyn was intending on terminating his services, as well as Eunice’s in order to become more independent.
4 August 1962
The following events come from those who saw and spoke to Marilyn that day. A Re-Interview Report was conducted on the 10th August 1962 (which is where some of these times originate)
- 8 am: Eunice Murray, Marilyn’s housekeeper, arrives at Marilyn’s home. She is dropped off by Henry D’Antonio who was servicing Mrs Murray’s car that day
- Marilyn tells Mrs Murray that she was intending on spending the day with her friend and publicist Patricia Newcomb (who spent the night) by the pool, as Pat was sick. Neighbours told police that they could hear a woman coughing in the garden.
- Furniture is delivered from The Mart and Pilgrim’s Modern Furniture. She writes a check to Pilgrim’s for $228.80. Marilyn’s furniture, ordered from Mexico had been delivered to the wrong address and bills had arrived at Marilyn’s home.
- About noon: Pat Newcomb wakes up. She is unwell with bronchitis and Marilyn tells her to stay with her to “bake it out.” Mrs Murray makes lunch for Pat (an omelette, Marilyn refuses to eat).Plants and more deliveries arrive.
- After 1 pm: Dr Greenson arrives. According to Milton Rudin (Marilyn’s attorney and Dr Greenson’s brother-in-law), Dr Greenson said he spent most of the day with her.
- 2 pm: Joe DiMaggio Jr. telephones Marilyn but Mrs Murray says Marilyn isn’t home.
- Between 2 pm-4 pm: Eunice Murray’s car is dropped off by D’Antonio and his wife.
- About 3 pm: Pat leaves at Greenson’s request, shortly followed by Greenson.
- At approximately 4:30 pm: Joe DiMaggio Jr tries to contact Marilyn again, but Mrs Murray states she still is not home.
- 5:00 pm: In 1975, Lawford stated he called Marilyn at 5 pm. Apparently, she accepts his dinner party invitation.
- 5:15 pm: Dr Greenson returns to the hacienda to continue their therapy. In the letter to Marianne Kris dated 20th August 1962, Dr Greenson writes: “I was aware that she was somewhat angry with me. She often became annoyed when I did not absolutely and wholeheartedly agree [with her]… I told her we would talk more, she should call me on Sunday morning.”
- 7:00/15 pm: Dr Greenson leaves Marilyn in her room, with Eunice Murray staying over (something she normally didn’t do).
- Approx 7:15 pm: Joe DiMaggio Jr finally chats with Marilyn over the phone (in her room). They speak for approximately 15 minutes. He later stated that he found her alert and happy. Joe Jr. confirmed the time to the police due to watching a live broadcast on television of the sixth/seventh inning of the Angels/Ontario baseball game.
- She calls Dr Greenson at about 7:40 pm, whilst he is shaving for dinner, to happily tell him that Joe Jr. had broken off his engagement (which was due to her concerns based on her experience as a young bride).
- Approx 7:45 pm: Peter Lawford calls back to ask her again to come over for dinner. She declines. Other guests who attend are Joseph Naar and his wife Dolores who attend from 8-10 pm and George Durgom. They order Chinese food.
- A neighbour sees Marilyn throwing the ball to Maf Honey in the garden before telling Mrs Murray that “I don’t think we’ll take that drive after all.” The drive had been recommended by Greenson.
- 8:00 pm: Marilyn retires to her bedroom saying goodnight to Mrs Murray.
- 8:25 pm: According to police reports Peter Lawford calls Milton Rudin (talent manager) as he is concerned about Marilyn’s welfare. He asks Rudin to call Milton Ebbins, as stated in a Re-Interview Report by Lieutenant Grover Armstrong (10 August 1962). According to Rudin, Lawford heard Marilyn “fading out.”
- 8:45 pm: Again according to the police reports, Rudin calls Ebbins.
- 9 pm: Rudin* ultimately phones Marilyn’s home and speaks to Mrs Murray asking her to check on Marilyn. She says Marilyn is fine. She later stated in her memoir that no one made her aware that there was a cause for concern. It’s believed she didn’t want to disturb Marilyn, should she have been asleep.
- After 10 pm: Lawford calls the Naar residence (as stated by Joseph Naar in 1992) asking them to check on Marilyn as he still believes something is wrong. However, whilst they are getting ready to leave, Rudin calls telling them not to worry as Marilyn had been given a sedative to help her sleep by Dr Greenson.
Other notes regarding this date:
– Mrs. Murray had been given a cheque dated 4 August 1962 for $200 signed by Marilyn. Based on information from Patricia Newcomb, Mrs Murray’s services were to be terminated by Marilyn. Mrs. Murray also had planned a tour of Europe in August.
– Marilyn had written a note to Joe:
Dear Joe, / If I can only succeed / in making you happy – / I will have succeeded / in the biggest and most / difficult thing there is – / that is to make one person / completely happy. Joe;”
It was sold at auction in 2008. It was found in her address book. It is believed to have been written on the 4 August 1962
5 August 1962
- 3:00 am: Eunice Murray wakes to find Marilyn’s light still on and has no response. She calls Greenson.
- 3:30/4:00 am: Dr Greenson arrives due to a call from Mrs Murray saying she was concerned about Marilyn. As the door is locked, he breaks the window, finds Marilyn unresponsive and unlocks the door. He calls Engleberg.
- 3:35 – 3:50 pm: Dr Engelberg arrives
- 4:25 am: Sergeant Jack Clemmons is called, and informed Marilyn is dead. He goes to investigate the scene personally with two patrolmen.
- 4:35 am: Clemmons is escorted into Marilyn’s bedroom and inspects the scene.
- 5 am: Pet Newcomb is informed of Marilyn’s death.
- 8 am: Marilyn’s body arrives at the morgue.
- 10:30 am: The coroner completes the autopsy. Her death is ruled ‘probable suicide.’
- Joe DiMaggio arrives from San Francisco. Berniece Miracle authorises the release of Marilyn’s body to Joe DiMaggio. Marilyn’s body is taken to the funeral home.
Death was pronounced on 05/08/1962 at 3.45 AM.
Possible accidental, having taken place between the times of 8/4 and 8/5/1962, 3.35 AM at residence located at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive, Brentwood, Rptg.Dist.814, Report # 62-509 463.
Marilyn Monroe, on August 4, 1962 retired to her bedroom at about eight o’clock in the evening; Mrs Eunice Murray of 903 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, Calif., 395-7752, CR 61890, noted a light in Miss Monroe’s bedroom. Mrs. Murray was not able to arouse Miss Monroe when she went to the door, and when she tried the door again at 3.30 AM. When she noted the light still on, she found it to be locked. Thereupon Mrs. Murray observed Miss Monroe through the bedroom window and found her lying on her stomach in the bed and the appearance seemed unnatural. Mrs. Murray then called Miss Monroe’s psychiatrist, Dr Ralph R.Dr. Greenson of 436 North Roxbury Drive, Beverly Hills, Calif., CR 14050. Upon entering after breaking the bedroom window, he found Miss Monroe possibly dead. Then he telephoned Dr Hyman Engelberg of 9730 Wilshire Boulevard, also of Beverly Hills, CR 54366, who came over and then pronounced Miss Monroe dead at 3.35 AM. Miss Monroe was seen by Dr. Greenson on August 4, 1962 at 5.15 PM., at her request, because she was not able to sleep. She was being treated by him for about a year. She was nude when Dr. Greenson found her dead with the telephone receiver in one hand and lying on her stomach. The Police Department was called and when they arrived they found Miss Monroe in the condition described above, except for the telephone which was removed by Dr. Greenson. There were found to be 15 bottles of medication on the night table and some were prescription. A bottle marked 1 1/2 grains Nembutal, prescription #20853 and prescribed by Dr Engelberg, and referring to this particular bottle, Dr Engelberg made the statement that he prescribed a refill for this about two days ago and he further stated there probably should have been about 50 capsules at the time this was refilled by the pharmacist.
Description of deceased: Female Caucasian, age 36, height 5.4, weight 115 pounds, blonde hair, blue eyes, and slender, medium build.
Probable cause of death: overdose of nembutal, body discovered 8/5/1962 at 3.25 AM.
Taken to County Morgue – from there to Westwood Mortuary.
Report made by Sgt R.E.Byron, # 2730, W L.A. Detective Division.
Next of kin: Gladys Baker (Mother).
Coroner’s office notified. The body was removed from premises by Westwood Village Mortuary.
Conspiracy theories VS Facts
Sources of conspiracy theories:
- Norman Mailer– Biographer and author using the below “sources” as evidence for the conspiracies. Openly admitted he speculated most of his book because he “needed the money.” Later attempted to murder his wife.
- Anthony Summers – Biographer using the below “sources” as evidence for the conspiracies.
- Donald Wolfe – Biographer using the below “sources” as evidence for the conspiracies.
- Robert Slatzer – Claimed to be married to Marilyn with no documentation or proof and used the marriage in order to sell his story. Known for creating many rumours surrounding her death.
- James Hall – Ambulance paramedic who was paid $40,000 to tell his story to a newspaper which can easily be debunked.
- Jack Clemmons – The first officer on the scene who was later dismissed by the force.
- Jeanne Carmen – A supposed confidante. No evidence shows Marilyn knew her.
- Frank Cappell – In 1964, Frank Cappell wrote a 70 pages booklet named The Strange Death of Marilyn Monroe. It was this document that implied Robert Kennedy was involved in Marilyn’s death for the first time. He was anti-Kennedy.
- Lionel Grandison – Coroner’s clerk whose character was discredited after a forgery charge. He claims he was forced to sign Marilyn’s death certificate under the duress of Theodore Curphey which is denied by the retired coroner. He also claims to have seen “The Red Diary” despite clerks having no access to evidence.
- John Miner – An attorney who investigated Marilyn’s death. He claims Ralph Greenson played him his and Marilyn’s private tapes. Decades later, he wrote a transcript from memory.
The facts we know so far are that Marilyn:
- Had drug levels in her blood (4.5 Nembutal and 8.0mg Chloral Hydrate) and liver (13mg Nembutal)
- Was pronounced dead between 3:30/3:35am on the 5 August 1962 but due to rigor mortis, it was likely she died closer to 8pm the night before.
Marilyn’s cause of death was by…
There were no visible puncture marks that can confirm this. Puncture marks take up to 24 hours to heal. And it would’ve had to have been a very fine needle.
Many people claim this is the cause of death due to the lack of residue in her stomach.
However, this can be explained due to the fact she hadn’t eaten anything that day so the pills would’ve been absorbed quickly.
Her autopsy report shows there was faecal matter present, therefore she wasn’t given an enema.
Despite Donald Spoto being one of the better biographers and his book being a wonderful source of information, his theory on the lethal enema administered by Mrs Murray and Dr Greenson doesn’t fit with the science.
Her blood and liver were consistent with an overdose of two of the barbiturates she was prescribed.
To drink the amount to reach the levels that were in her blood, it would’ve had to have been intentional.
There was no evidence presented that showed that had consumed poison.
Marilyn’s cause of death based on the toxicology reports was an overdose.
There are also no traces of evidence to suggest there was any other cause of death,
Whether accidental or intentional, Marilyn had previously overdosed.
With barbiturates, ones memory can become foggy and it can be hard to keep track of the medication already taken.
It is also possible for someone who feels that their dosage isn’t working to take more without considering the consequences.
Marilyn had been incredibly tired the day she died and may have felt a couple more pills would actually help her sleep. Unfortunately, it was a lethal dosage and caused her to pass out before she ultimately died.
Medical science wasn’t as thorough as it is now. The coroner may not have reported some things because:
1. It wasn’t common practice to do so.
2. It was irrelevant because it was so obvious Marilyn died from an overdose.
It is unknown whether Marilyn intended to die or whether it was an accident but what is clear from the scientific reports is that she died from an overdose of barbiturates.
Marilyn was killed by…
John F Kennedy
JFK and his family, including Patricia Kennedy Lawford (a friend of Marilyn’s), were at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, about 3000 miles from Los Angeles.
On the 3rd of August 1962, Robert Kennedy had flown from Washington to meet his wife Ethel, and children at his friend John Bates’s ranch in California (not far south from San Francisco). It was mentioned in the Los Angeles Times.
The family had stayed there for the entire weekend before attending a convention of the American Bar Association on Monday 6th August.
There are photographs taken over the course of this weekend as well as multiple witness testimonies about how he didn’t leave the ranch the entire weekend. John Bates himself stated: “The attorney general and his family were with us every minute from the Friday afternoon until the Monday.”
Nancy Bates said that on the 4 August (the night Marilyn died) that “Dinner lasted until about ten-thirty and we were in our bedrooms not long after that.”
On Sunday 5th August, Bates and the Kennedys needed to leave early to get to Mass, in Gilroy (100 miles from Marilyn’s home), their attendance was reported in the paper the following day. After lunch, they drove to San Francisco where the family would stay during the convention.
An FBI file (77-51387-293) confirms this schedule of the attorney general and his family.
Peter Lawford had a dinner party that evening. His wife, Pat, was in Hyannis Port with JFK and his family. Pat came back for Marilyn’s funeral a few days later.
Peter had telephoned Marilyn (as well as others) and requested her to attend. Joseph Naar and his wife Dolores were guests (who attended from 8-10 pm) as well as George Durgam who all witnessed his attempts to call Marilyn.
Sam Giancana’s memoir claimed he killed Marilyn just before midnight however due to rigour mortis, Marilyn couldn’t have died after 10 pm. The reason, he claims, was because of the orders of the CIA. He also claims he was the reason Marilyn got famous despite the evidence showing otherwise.
Thirdly, the CIA had no reason to have Marilyn murdered and neither did the Mafia.
Eunice Murray and Dr Ralph Greenson
It’s believed Mrs Murray and Dr Greenson killed Marilyn (accidentally or intentionally) via lethal enema. However, the reports show Marilyn had faecal matter present, therefore it’s impossible for an enema to have been administered.
Another claim is that Greenson killed her by injection.
According to ambulance driver James Hall, he and Murray Leibowitz were called to Fifth Helena Drive and arrived to find Marilyn comatose at 10:25pm.
Depending on what story you read, either in her bedroom or in the ambulance, Hall had managed to resuscitate Marilyn before Dr. Greenson plunged a needle in her heart, resulting in her death. The ambulance was then ordered to turn around and return her body to her home. He stated: “He (Dr. Greenson) felt his way down her ribs like an amateur. Then he thrust the needle into her chest. But it didn’t go in right. It hung up on the bone, on one of her ribs. Instead of trying again, he just leaned into it, his cheeks quivered with the effort. He pushed hard and he drove it all the way through the rib, making a loud snap as the bone broke. I know he scarred that rib bone. I had watched a lot of medical procedures and this guy was downright brutal.”
Walt Schaefer who was head of the ambulance company said in a BBC documentary (1985) that. “she was alive when she was picked up”.
Schaefer had no documentation of this event, and it wasn’t mentioned until 1985.
Mrs. Murray Leibowitz also denied Hall’s claims, leaving this tale as a work of fiction.
We should also note that a hypodermic needle is incredibly large and would leave a large bruise and puncture mark. A broken bone would’ve been evident during the post-mortem examination.
Marilyn was killed because…
She "knew too much"
There is no evidence of Marilyn knowing or receiving information regarding any government information.
Marilyn was rarely ever left alone with any government officials other than her *maybe* one-night stand with JFK.
Marilyn also had a few confidantes whom she told practically everything. None of those people ever came forward to say this was the reason for her death.
She was going to released information about her affairs with the Kennedys
It was public knowledge that JFK had several affairs.
For example, Gunilla von Post had an affair with JFK whilst he was a senator and wrote to him and tried to end his marriage. She asked him to leave Jackie before having any children with her. She was not murdered.
Marlene Dietrich, another actress he had apparently had an affair with wasn’t murdered either.
It’s also rumoured that he had slept with Pamela Turnure, his wife’s press secretary. She was not murdered.
Marilyn’s relationship with John Kennedy is limited to a few public events and one private meeting at Bing Crosby’s house where it’s likely they slept together one time.
Marilyn supposedly discussed the event with a few close friends.
Robert is and was famously known as a family man, dedicated to his wife Ethel. He had only met Marilyn on a few occasions, all of which were at public events and parties. Jean Kennedy joked to Marilyn when there were reports of Marilyn and him being together, “Understand that you and Bobby are the new item! We all think you should come with him when he comes back East!’”
To many, this was an admission to the affair. However, Jean later stated that it was ridiculous for that statement to be taken seriously.
She was going to fire Greenson and Murray
It is likely Marilyn was going to begin removing certain people in her life.
However, murdering your patient/employer wouldn’t necessarily help your cause if you wanted to remain employed.
She kept a red diary of information about the Kennedy's
Marilyn did have a red diary but it was a daily organiser from 1961 and it was sold at auction.
Her bedsheets were being cleaned
Marilyn didn’t own a washer or a dryer. There are receipts and logs of every item in Marilyn’s home.
None of this is mentioned in the police report. The story comes from Jack Clemmons (a police officer who had been fired for slandering a US Senator with Frank Cappell) in Goddess by Anthony Summers, a book full of falsehoods.
Clemmons and two other officers were present in Marilyn’s home for a maximum of 20-30 minutes. He wasn’t the investigating officer nor was he head of her case.
The layout of Marilyn’s home was also somewhat different to what Clemmons claims, discovered by author Gary Vitacco-Robles. In addition, receipts show that Marilyn’s items were always sent out to be cleaned and therefore she had no requirement for a washer/dryer at home.
Marilyn was found on her bed, with sheets. For soiled sheets to be cleaned her body would’ve been moved and new bedsheets added. Her body did not show signs of movement.
Her neck was swollen
Her autopsy report states her neck showed no signs of trauma. The autopsy attendant is the one who claimed Marilyn’s neck needed to be cut to reduce the swelling. However, this was never noted on her autopsy report, conducted by Noguchi, and therefore shouldn’t be considered as evidence. When looking at reports we should rely on the facts given by the Doctor undertaking the examinations at the time.
There were no pills or residue in her stomach
Medical examiners and researchers have stated that due to Marilyn not having eaten, the digestion of the pills would’ve happened quickly, leaving little residue.
Moreover, as it is more than likely she passed out and was still alive, the digestion of the pills would’ve continued.
The question is normally raised because there should’ve been SOME residue. However, when Marilyn’s body was examined some specimens were destroyed. This was common in 1962. Should the intestines have been examined fully it is likely there would’ve been traces.
Marilyn’s pill addiction would have caused her body to “dump” the Nembutal. Noguchi may have found more evidence of the drugs further down her intestine, but he only examined the first foot (as was protocol at the time).
If she had vomited (which would explain the lack of residue) there still would’ve been traces of the pills in her stomach and the liver levels would’ve been lower than they were. There was no vomit found on her bed.
Evidence went missing
After organs were examined and the cause of death was established, the organs were then destroyed. A common practice in 1962.
Police officers have evidence she was murdereed
Many of the police officers who worked on the case ended up fired later on such as Jack Clemmons.
The detective who wrote The Night Bobby Kennedy Killed Marilyn Monroe knows very little about Marilyn, her life and her death. You can read April Vevea’s fact check and review here.
Most of the evidence from the book comes from other authors with no fresh evidence.
The police weren't called straight away
Even today it’s not uncommon for publicity and press agents as well as the legal team of a celebrity to be informed of their client’s death before the authorities.
It is also likely Marilyn’s doctors wanted to discuss the high doses Marilyn was being prescribed as they would be liable.
Eunice Murray claimed Bobby had been there that night
This 1985 interview has never been made public. Eunice Murray also changed her story based on popular theories at the time.
Her house had been bugged
There has never been any bugging equipment found at the apartment on Doheny Drive.
When Veronica Hamel claimed that 5th Helena Drive was wired there was the issue that there’s no proof that she ever owned the place, let alone paid $100,000 to get bugs removed.
The Nunez family who bought the property in 1963 and owned it until 1980 never made these claims, despite Hamel’s 1972 claims.
There was no glass or water for her to take the pills
There was a glass next to Marilyn’s bed. There was also a used glass on her kitchen worktop. Many people claim that the bedroom glass was placed there by the police in an effort to cover up a murder. Some say because her water was turned off she didn’t drink any water with the pills. However, there is a photo of the water tank in her kitchen for drinking.