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August 5, 1962: The Tragic Overdose And Death Of Marilyn Monroe

Icons | August 5, 2021

Source: (The Chap).

At 3 a.m., on August 5, 1962, Eunice Murray noticed that the light was still on in Marilyn Monroe’s bedroom. Murray, the housekeeper, called Monroe’s psychiatrist and personal physician after discovering that Monroe’s door was locked. After they arrived at Monroe’s house, Greenson, her psychiatrist, broke down the door to find her naked on her bed, clutching the telephone. Her physician pronounced her dead and contacted her publicist and one of her lawyers. The autopsy revealed that her blood contained high levels of chloral hydrate, likely from sleeping pills and the barbiturate Nembutal and that the extremely high levels seemed to indicate she had ingested the sleeping pills very quickly. Because of this, the coroner called her death a likely suicide. However, the police report indicated that her death may have been accidental. 

Behind The Facade

Postcard before she became a star. Source: (Wikipedia).

Her background supports the official report. She had a difficult childhood, drinking and taking pills to cope with anxiety and depression. This led to forgetfulness; she would forget her lines and often showed up to set late. Because of the effects on her work, she was fired from her final film, Something’s Got to Give.

A Difficult Childhood

With Joe DiMaggio, her second husband. Source: (Wikipedia).

Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jean Mortenson, though she often went by the surname Baker. Monroe’s mother first married John Newton Baker, but they divorced. Shortly after the divorce, she married Martin Edward Mortenson, a marriage that only lasted a few months. When Monroe was born, she was given her mother’s husband’s surname, but her biological father was unknown and she often went by the surname Baker. In 1934, her mother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and Monroe became a ward of the state. Monroe’s homelife after this point was unstable, and she was molested first while living with the Atkinsons, the boarders who were living in her mother’s house, and then while she was living with Grace Goddard (her mother’s friend) and her husband Erwin “Doc” Goddard. In 1942, to avoid returning to the orphanage, she married Goddard’s neighbor's son, James Dougherty shortly after her 16th birthday. In 1945, she started modeling and a year later, had signed an acting contract by 20th Century Fox. That same year, she divorced Dougherty, who objected to her acting career. She married two more times: to Arthur Miller and Joe DiMaggio. Her marriage to DiMaggio lasted nine months, while her marriage to Arthur Miller ended after five years. Her diaries, which were later released, revealed a lot of Monroe’s struggles as well as her sensitive side. 

People Couldn't Believe She Committed Suicide

In Some Like it Hot with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. Source: (Wikipedia).

However, there are many who did not believe that she could have committed suicide. When she died at the age of 36, she had been in 30 films and had won a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her appearance in Some Like It Hot. Friends who saw her before her death said that she was in good spirits. She had just been rehired for Something’s Got to Give and was thinking about getting back together with DiMaggio. Many also point to other circumstances surrounding her death.     

Some Evidence Supports Murder Claims

With Estelle Winwood, Montgomery Clift, Eli Wallach, and Clark Gable in The Misfits. Source: (Wikipedia).

She left no suicide note. Although the autopsy claimed she had ingested a large number of pills, there was no trace of them found in her stomach. There was a small bruise on her which some believe may be an indication that drugs were injected into her. As police arrived at Monroe’s house, they found Eunice Murray washing Monroe’s bedsheets. Additionally, her business manager, Inez Melson removed large numbers of documents from her house. The death certificate also raised suspicions, as the deputy coroner explained that he signed it “under duress.” These inconsistencies led to a reinvestigation of her cause of death, which concluded probable suicide. However, conspiracy theories persist. 

Were The Kennedys Involved?

Singing "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Source: (Wikipedia).

In one theory, Robert Kennedy orchestrated her murder to protect JFK from bad press if the alleged affair with her became known. According to Tony Oppedisano, Frank Sinatra’s manager and friend, Sinatra believed that Monroe had been murdered, and Monroe had a press conference scheduled, during which she was going to announce that she and DiMaggio had gotten back together and reveal the truth about her affairs with JFK and Robert Kennedy. This supports the theory that Robert Kennedy arranged her death to keep JFK from being part of a scandal. In that theory, supported by her ex-boyfriend Gianni Russo, Sam Giancana, a crime boss, and the Chicago mob were trying to blackmail JFK by filming Monroe with Robert and JFK in a threesome so that JFK would invade Cuba and return the casinos back to the mob. However, Monroe learned about the plot and threatened she would go to the media, so Robert Kennedy had her killed to silence the story. There are a few other conspiracy theories involving the Kennedys as well. One was that she was killed by the mafia and another was that she was killed by the CIA, in both cases, to hurt the Kennedys. Other related theories point to Peter Lawford, JFK’s brother-in-law, an actor who was friends with Monroe, and who she had expressed some fear of in her diary. 

Other Theories

She was a reader. Source: (Pinterest).

Other theories are not connected to the Kennedys. Some claim that her murder was connected to her finances, as someone was trying to gain access to her money. Most of the money she bequeathed to others did not seem suspicious, but she did leave 25 percent of her estate to Dr. Marianne Kris, the New York psychiatrist who locked her up in a padded cell in 1961. In another theory, she did overdose, but her murder was staged by her doctors with the help of her housekeeper. And, in perhaps one of the least plausible theories, the government killed her because she was threatening to reveal the truth about UFOs.

Tags: Joe DiMaggio | John F. Kennedy | Marilyn Monroe

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Linda Speckhals

Writer

When she’s not out walking her dog, or taking in a baseball game, Linda loves learning about history, science, and philosophy. She will travel wherever the wind may blow, and happily loses herself in a book, whenever she can. At heart, she is a music loving tree-hugger.