Some actresses are stars. Some are superstars. And then there’s the rare few that can be considered icons. One of the most famous was bombastic blonde Marilyn Monroe, the starlet who was one of America’s first national sex symbols. The one-time Norma Jean Baker had a traumatic childhood, moving in and out of foster homes in between stays with her mentally unstable mother Gladys. After she decided to pursue acting in 1946, her whole life changed, and her meteoric rise to the top of the industry was only halted by her mysterious death.While ruled a suicide by police, there are a number of conspiracy theories surrounding Marilyn’s exit from this world. Let’s examine them, shall we?
First, the facts. Starting in the later 1950s, Monroe’s health began to deteriorate. She frequently complained of insomnia and was regularly consuming a cocktail of prescription sleeping pills with alcohol. Her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller dissolved in 1961, and she underwent a series of surgeries to repair her blocked fallopian tubes. Her final film role, in John Huston’s The Misfits, showed a Marilyn at the end of her rope, giving a rare dramatic performance that was oddly powerful. And then, on August 5th, 1962, Marilyn was dead.
Shortly after 4:30 AM, the police received a call from Dr. Ralph Greenson, Marilyn’s longtime psychiatrist. Greenson had been called by the actresses’ housekeeper, Eunice Murray, when she noticed the light on in Marilyn’s room but heard no sound from inside. After breaking the door down, Greenson discovered Monroe’s body inside, lying face down and covered in bruises. Coroner Dr. Theodore Curphey conducted the autopsy and concluded Marilyn had committed suicide from an overdose of sleeping pill Nembutal – but is that what really happened?
There is a good deal of troubling evidence that points away from suicide as the cause of Monroe’s death. The most damning is the autopsy report’s findings on the state of Marilyn’s stomach. If Monroe had really overdosed on Nembutal, there would be trace residue of the pill capsules, powder, or lividity and discoloration in her stomach and intestines. However, pathologist Dr. Thomas Noguchi found absolutely no signs of the pills. Monroe also had no markings on her body that would indicate the drugs were taken intravenously. In addition, police found empty pill bottles in the room, but no water or other liquids that could have been used to wash the pills down. Dry-swallowing a fatal amount of Nembutal would have been an extremely daunting proposition, even for the most dedicated suicide.
Greenson’s behavior on the morning in question is also suspicious. When police arrived one report said that he was tidying Monroe’s room and washing sheets – potentially tampering with a crime scene. In addition, both he and the housekeeper changed their stories about the timeline of the late evening and early morning, calling question to their testimony. So why was Monroe killed, if she was? One horrifying theory is that she was eliminated before her adulterous relationship with President John F. Kennedy could come to public light – JFK’s noted Mafia connections were perfectly capable of killing one of the world’s most popular stars. Whether the late president was truly amoral enough to order such an act is lost to the mists of history, and we may never know the truth about the death of Marilyn Monroe.