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Marilyn Monroe was the ultimate Hollywood screen goddess. Her sudden and premature death rocked the twin Hollywood towers of fame and politics. Born Norma Jean Mortenson in 1926 she later changed her name to Marilyn Monroe as she believed it more suitable to a career as an actress and model. In 1946 she received critical acclaim for her acting and within ten years was a movie icon and worldwide sex symbol.  Her strange death has attracted almost as much publicity as her life did.

Marilyn Monroe Prepared for Funeral

Marilyn Monroe Prepared for Funeral

Marilyn Monroe was found naked and dead in her room on 5th August 1962. The official verdict was self-administered Nembutal overdose, but many people believe she was murdered.  The speculation started almost immediately when a pamphlet entitled ‘The Strange Death of Marilyn Monroe’ was self-published by anti-communist activist, Frank Capell in 1964.  He proposed that her death was part of a conspiracy coordinated by secret government forces to protect the elite political Kennedy family from a sex scandal.

Here are some of the most sensible reasons why so many people still doubt that Marylin Monroe took her own life – either deliberately or by accident.

She Was Actually Happier at the Time

A lot has been written about how depressed Monroe was at the time of her alleged suicide. Mostly this focuses on her having been dismissed by the studio for being difficult and for her love life issues.  However, according to people who knew her at the time, now backed up by historical records, she was actually, happy, upbeat, and looking forward to the future.

We now know that she had been expecting to be rehired by the studios to complete the film “Something’s Got to Give” (for double her initial salary) and was already talking to two well respected film directors – J. Lee Thompson and Sam Spiegel about new film offers.  She was also reported to be excited about doing up her new home and being a more independent person.

Some of this information was provided at the time by Miss Pat Newcombe, a close friend and by Milton Rudin, Marilyn’s attorney.  Nevertheless, the press pursued the story that she was depressed and therefore suicidal.

 No Suicide Note!

There’s no doubt that Marylin had been depressed in the past and her issues with alcohol and sleeping medication were well known within her inner circle.  She had previously tried to commit suicide – probably as a cry for help rather than a serious attempt.  On both occasions she had left a specific farewell note.  In this case there was nothing.

The room she was in was locked, maybe?

Much was made about the fact that the room where Marilyn died was locked and a window had to be broken by Dr Greenson to gain access to the room.  There has been much doubt cast over this alleged finding.

Marilyn Monroe Brentwood Door Locks

Marilyn Monroe Brentwood Door Locks

Firstly, based on invoices found later, it appears that locks were fitted to the doors after her death – or were they changed? Secondly, friends of the star claimed that Marilyn’s housekeeper, Mrs Murray, had a master key to all the locks in the house.  Also, depending on the type of lock fitted, it is possible to create the illusion of a locked room by using the bottle opener and string trick.

Photographs of the room taken immediately after Marilyn’s death appear to show the door did have a lock fitted and that a standard rotating key typical of the period was in the lock. However, other reports describe the lock as a twist latch as shown in the reconstruction.  This makes no sense either as a twist latch always has a small slot on the outside, like many bathroom doors, that can be opened with any small coin in an emergency.

The broken glass was mostly outside.

According to Dr Greenson, he used an iron poker to break the window from the outside to access the room.  Again, crime scene photos, now available and unmodified, clearly show that the glass was outside the room suggesting that the window had been broken from the inside.

Some people have claimed that some glass always falls outside when a window is broken.  However, the crime scene images clearly show that the window that was broken was actually a small pane of glass.  If any glass had fallen outside there would be none left to find inside.

Marilyn Monroe Broken WindowMost peculiar is the fact that they chose to break a window.  They could see that Marilyn was in bed and it would have made so much more sense to break in through the locked door.  Was this bizarre behaviour carried out so that witness could insist that Marilyn had been alone in a locked room thus proving suicide?

Disappearing Bruises and Bloodstains?

It is now accepted that photos used in the media were airbrushed and retouched.  One photo clearly shows a smear of blood on the wall.  The same photo used later, plainly shows that it has been edited to remove the stain.  While this is easy to do today, in 1962 it would have required a highly skilled professional to achieve this result.

Marilyn Monroe Dead in Bed - Modified

Original reports stated that Marilyn had a bruise on her left hip that would be consistent with an injection, or several injections.  This is recorded in the original pathology diagrams.  However, later reports claimed that there was no sign of physical injury.  But … original crime scene photos clearly also show a large bruise on her left shoulder.

Clean Sheets?

The first officer on the scene was Sergeant Jack Clemmons who reported that there was an unnatural atmosphere in the house and that certain aspects simply looked too neat, as if they had been carefully staged.  He noticed that Dr Greeson repeatedly pointed out things that he suggested indicated suicide which Clemmons found odd.  Most disturbingly, he noticed that the sheets seemed very fresh and could clearly hear Ms Murry hoovering carpets and doing washing at 4:30 in the morning.  This behaviour he noted was at best bizarre and at worst deeply suspicious.

Position of the body raises questions

Officers and medical personal confirmed that Marilyn was lying face down with her arms by her sides.  This was referred to as the soldier position. This is highly inconsistent with the claim of death by overdose as in most cases the pills cause violent cramps and vomiting prior to death.  There was no sign of the twisting and turning that would be expected and no sign of any vomit at all.

Where was the Water?

The general story that was put out to the media was that Marilyn took between 40 and 50 tablets orally.  However, there was no water in the room meaning that she would have had to take them dry.  Tablets taken dry, and in that quantity, rarely dissolve completely but the autopsy found absolutely no trace of the tablets in her stomach or intestinal tract.

This was explained away by claiming that as the star was a regular pill taker and her system digested them much quicker.  This is patently ridiculous.  In 1982 a female patient of similar size and build complained of stomach pain and was x-rayed.  White dots where immediately discovered along the digestive tract.  These turned out to be tablets that had been taken 12 hours earlier without water and had failed to be digested.

As mentioned earlier, that number of tablets would have almost certainly induced vomiting or at least some regurgitation into the mouth.  No evidence of this was found in the autopsy.  A final concern is that Marilyn’s friends repeatedly claimed that they knew with certainty that the star could not take tablets without water and would gag even on a single small pill.

Why Move the phone?

When Marilyn Monroe was first found she was apparently holding a phone in her hand.  For some reason, Dr Greenson saw fit to remove the phone which failed to appear in any of the crime scene photos.

Why did the occupants of the house wait four hours to call the police?

According to Police Sergeant Clemmons, in a 1992 interview: “Mrs. Murray told me that Dr. Greenson entered the room saw the pills and saw the body. At which time he called Dr. Engelberg…. [he] pronounced her dead…according to this story that I’m receiving at this time this is all occurring shortly after midnight. And I got the phone call at 4:25 AM. Now if this story is true, that means that these people are in this house for four hours with a dead body, so I asked them, why didn’t you call sooner, let us know sooner, no one wanted to answer me. They tried to ignore me.”

The Peter Lawford Connection

Peter Lawford was a British actor that married John F Kennedy’s sister in 1954.  His connection with the Kennedy clan helped propel him to star status.  Many believe that he repaid this support by becoming the ‘fixer’ for the Kennedy brothers – John and Robert.

Peter Lawford - John F Kennedy - 12 August 1962

Photograph of Peter Lawford and John F Kennedy deep in private conversation on board the USCG yacht ‘Manitou’ taken by Robert L. Knudsen on the 12 August 1962 just one week after the death of Marilyn Monroe. (WMC NARA record: 8451337)

Allegations persist to this day that Lawford was the ‘wrangler’ who managed the many Kennedy mistresses.  If this was true, as many believe it was, then Lawford’s testimony that he spoke to Marilyn on the night of her death must be doubted.  The key part of his statement to the authorities is that Marilyn sounded strange – as if she was drunk or had taken something.  If he was working as part of the team to silence Marilyn, then his testimony was the perfect scene-setter for her apparent suicide.

The Missing Little Red Book

Marilyn kept a detailed diary known as her little red book.  According to some who had seen it, she kept a detailed record of her sex life and things she had noted while around the rich and powerful men who overshadowed her life including the Kennedy brothers, John and Bobby, as well as Frank Sinatra and other leading figures of the time. Many of the people she brushed shoulders with were also allegedly linked to organised crime.

According to friends, she liked to be able to refer back to previous meetings and dates which, with her terribly busy schedule, were hard to remember.

After her death there was naturally an extensive search for the diary, but it was never officially found.

A suspiciously long Drive to the Coroner

According to many researchers and confirmed by news reports on the day, Marilyn’s body was taken from her house in Brentwood at 5:30am and driven to the nearby Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park & Mortuary where it was due to be embalmed.  It should have been taken directly to the coroner at the county mortuary as embalming would render an autopsy nearly impossible. The instruction for this to happen originated from her house in Brentwood but no one ever accepted responsibility for the call.

Strangely, it is very difficult to find records of exact timings during this period.  We do know that she was at the Westwood Village Mortuary for some time as her body was examined there by Hast & Abbot and allegedly hidden for some time away from the cameras of the paparazzi.  Rough estimates suggest that the star’s body was out of sight for at least three hours and unattended by anyone prepared to claim being with her.  The story that she was kept in a broom closet to hide her from the Paparazzi is bizarre to say the least and truly borders on the ridiculous.

Marilyn Monroe Dead at AutopsyShortly before the embalming process was to begin her body was located by the coroner’s office and taken from the funeral home.  Exactly what was done to her during this time remains a mystery but Ron Hast and Allan Abbott, the funeral morticians at Westwood, were critical of her appearance and disparaging about the state of her corpse.

Abbott later stated: ‘When we removed the sheet covering her, it was almost impossible to believe this was the body of Marilyn Monroe. She looked like a very average, aging woman who had not been taking very good care of herself.  Her face was bruised and her legs unshaven.”

Autopsy Errors and Missing Organs

Usually, all autopsies on famous people were carried out by Theodore Curphey, the Chief Medical Examiner.  However, Curphey insisted that this time a junior medical examiner by the name of Thomas Noguchi handle the case.  Many years later Noguchi admitted that he still found the decision very out of character.

The first troubling inconsistency is that Noguchi described Marilyn as looking beautiful and clearly recognisable.  This directly contradicts the description given by Allan Abbott from the Westwood Village Mortuary who described her ill looking and barely recognisable.

Marilyn Monroe Decadron Injection Details

Marilyn Monroe Decadron Injection pack – and yet they claim they found no needle marks?

Noguchi did what he always did and examined every inch of her body with a magnifying glass on the assumption that every suicide might also me a murder victim.  He could not find any obvious needle marks but did find a fresh and inexplicable bruise on her hip.  Bizarrely, he recorded no other bruising although crime scene photos seem to clearly show additional bruising on her upper left shoulder and face.

Noguchi reported that he found no trace of the tablets in Marilyn’s stomach or vomit in her mouth.  Again, this is inconsistent with most suicides that have used tablets. His report states:

“No residue of the pills is noted. A smear made from the gastric contents and examined under the polarized microscope shows no refractile crystals.”

Not all the organs were tested for toxicity, a mistake Noguchi admits.  Although the chief Coroner quickly announced the cause of death was suicide, Noguchi wanted to conduct further tests on the extracted organs only to find they had been thrown away even though the autopsy report stated they should be kept for further examination.  The report states:

“Unembalmed blood is taken for alcohol and barbiturate examination. Liver, kidney, stomach and contents, urine and intestine are saved for further toxicological study.”.

He admitted later that he should have tested all the organs but, as a very junior member of the team at the time, he didn’t want to upset anyone.  This seems to imply that he was instructed to only test the liver and the blood.

Two additional findings in the report and their implications seem to have been overlooked or ignored at the time.  The report stated:

  • “The colon shows marked congestion and purplish discoloration.”
  • “The clavicle, ribs, vertebrae and pelvic bones show fracture lines.”

To this date there as been no satisfactory explanation for the discolouration and potential damage to her rectal area and colon.  These findings alone should have warranted further investigation but that was not the case.

It is worth noting that Noguchi’s involvement with the case of Marilyn Monroe didn’t in anyway damage his future prospects.  To the contrary, he would go on to become a celebrity in his own right and known as the ‘Coroner to the Stars’.  He would even act as the inspiration for a hit TV series –   Quincy, M.E. which ran for 8 seasons.

An Affair with the Kennedy Brothers

Marilyn Monroe and John F Kennedy Street Art

Marilyn Monroe and John F Kennedy Street Art

It is now widely accepted that Marilyn Monroe had affairs with both John F. Kennedy, the then President of the United States of America, and his brother, Robert Kennedy, the US Attorney general.  One of her last famous performances was to sing ‘Happy BHirthday’ to JFK in her famous super sexy way.   What is often overlooked is that she also sang ‘Thanks for the Memory’ an allusion to her relationship with JFK.  It was certainly brazen and must have seriously troubled JFK – particularly the line “thank you for all the things you’ve done”.  Some researchers believe that it was this clip that focused too much attention on the relationship between Monroe and JFK and was the catalyst for her death.

It’s worth noting that within six years of her death both Kennedy brothers who had been such an influence on Marilyn’s last years would be dead by assassination. Just 15 months after her death, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dealy Plaza, Texas.  Four years later, his brother, Robert Kennedy, was assassinated while leaving the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.  Within weeks of JFK’s Assassination his sister, Patricia Kennedy, would file for divorce from Peter Lawford, allegedly the last person to speak to Marilyn.

A Case for Assassination

Marilyn Monroe Memorial

Marilyn Monroe Memorial at Westwood Memorial Park

It’s doubtful that the investigation into the death of Marilyn Monroe will ever be reopened.  The truth about what really happened on that fateful night is now so confused and twisted that separating fact from fiction is close to impossible.  If this happened today there would definitely been a more serious inquiry.  For now, all we can do is remind people of all the things that remain wrong, mysterious, and unanswered about this case and hope that one day the truth will come out.

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