The Mystery Behind Marilyn Monroe's Death

Some stars never fade, and the life and death of Marilyn Monroe only continue to fascinate and intrigue the late actress' many fans. As noted by History, Norma Jeane Mortenson (Monroe's birth name) was born on June 1, 1926, in Los Angeles. Sadly, Monroe's mother was unable to provide for her daughter due to mental health issues and recurrent institution stays. As a result, the future star grew up in a combination of foster homes and stays at an orphanage. When she was just 16, Monroe got married for the first time, but got divorced just years later. It was after this separation that she began her journey towards stardom.

Monroe began modeling in 1944, and in 1946 she got a short-term contract with 20th Century Fox, where she took on her iconic screen name. From there, things only seemed to improve for Monroe, and by the late '50s, she was famous. Monroe's unexpected death in 1962 led to speculation regarding how she died. While the official report claimed it was likely suicide, both fans and friends of the star believe there's more to the story. There's no shortage of theories and speculations about the circumstances surrounding the blonde bombshell's tragic end.

Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her LA home

With no shortage of accomplishments throughout her lifetime, History states that Marilyn Monroe's initial rise to fame first began in the 1950s after she appeared in minor roles in "The Asphalt Jungle" and "All About Eve." Soon after, her career took off, and the iconic blonde bombshell was popping up in films left and right. Movies like "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and "There's No Business Like Show Business" earned the actress international recognition. By 1954, Monroe had married famed baseball player Joe DiMaggio, from whom she divorced just eight months later. Then in 1956, Monroe got married again, this time to Arthur Miller. However, just one week before her final film, "The Misfits," was released in 1961, Monroe divorced the playwright. 

Sadly (and much to the shock of Monroe's many fans), on August 5, 1962, Monroe's body was discovered inside of her home in Los Angeles. Reportedly, she was found lying naked and face down on her bed with a telephone in one hand. Empty prescription pill bottles were also found tossed around the room. The Los Angeles police department did a brief investigation of Monroe's death and ultimately concluded that the iconic blonde's passing was a result of "a self-administered overdose of sedative drugs and that the mode of death is probable suicide." At the time of her death, Monroe was just 36 years old.

Her autopsy was never completed

As noted by History, Marilyn Monroe's untimely death was determined to be the likely result of an overdose. The autopsy performed on the star discovered a lethal amount of sedatives in her system. According to AP News, the first medical examiner to offer findings on Monroe's death was Dr. Theodore Curphey. However, Dr. Thomas T. Noguchi is the one who performed the actual autopsy, with Dr. Curphey supervising the entire investigation, which on the whole lasted only 11 days. After the probe was completed, Dr. Curphey publicly stated at a news conference on August 17, 1962, that Monroe's passing appeared to be the likely result of suicide. 

Still, despite the medical examiner's reported findings, some remain skeptical of the results. According to the Star Tribune, Monroe's autopsy wasn't completed. After Monroe was declared dead, phone records revealed outgoing calls and toxicology tests on her organs that were never performed. Similarly, the outlet added that samples from her stomach and intestines were destroyed and never tested for any drugs, something Dr. Noguchi confirmed in his 1983 memoir, "Coroner." 

In a personal recollection of the investigation published by the Los Angeles Times, John W. Miner, liaison to the County's Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner, stated that blood tests revealed a lethal amount of barbiturates in Monroe's system. However, it was a mystery how they got there in the first place, as Miner reported that the contents of Monroe's stomach, organ sample, and smear material all mysteriously disappeared.

Her friends had different opinions about the coroner's report

With plenty of Marilyn Monroe's fans remaining skeptical of the circumstances surrounding her passing, it's no surprise that those close to Monroe are similarly convinced that she didn't take her own life. According to Closer Weekly, both friends and family members of the iconic star stated that Monroe's death wasn't a suicide. For example, her niece Mona Rae Miracle told the outlet that the actress had set plans to see producers the day after she passed away. Likewise, Carl Rollyson, the author of "Marilyn Monroe: Day by Day" (which details Monroe's final days through diary entries and appointment books), stated that the star was planning ahead and making future appointments around the time of her death. 

Others, like Monroe's hairdresser Jimie Morrissey, believe that the star's death wasn't suicide but an accidental overdose resulting from too many sleeping pills. Morrissey said that Monroe frequently took sleeping pills, and was constantly drinking champagne. Likewise, Sherrill Snyder, the daughter of Monroe's close friend and long-standing photographer Allan "Whitey" Snyder, told Closer Weekly that those around Monroe were constantly giving her pills so she could continue working and weren't monitoring her consumption. She added, "My father never believed it was suicide." Similarly, the Daily Mail reported that Monroe's friend and co-star Jane Russell did not believe that Monroe killed herself, stating that around the time of her passing, the star had gotten a new movie contract and was planning to get married again. 

A Netflix documentary offered up audio from around the time of her death

With plenty of media providing various sources, facts, and opinions about the late, great Marilyn Monroe, it's no surprise that Netflix recently dropped a documentary titled "The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes." The film explores the mysterious circumstances surrounding Monroe's passing and also delivers previously unreleased interviews from those in her inner circle. The documentary starts out with audio recordings connected to the research of journalist and author Anthony Summers, who is reported to have interviewed approximately one thousand individuals, two dozen of whom can be heard in "The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe."

The film's director, Emma Cooper, chatted with Town & County to discuss what she learned from making the new Netflix documentary, revealing some interesting details about the process. She told the outlet that while she initially went into the project with no opinion and very little information on the late star, she went on to spend three years working on the Monroe documentary. Cooper's film presents a timeline of Monroe's last hours that widely differs from previously reported claims. Regarding these findings, the director stated that the timeline created from Summers' conclusions revealed that the truth about Monroe's final hours was somewhere in the middle of all the claims surrounding her death. Cooper also noted that it is important for people to know that the documentary disproves the widely-accepted timeline for when Monroe was supposedly found.

A biographer claimed that her doctor administered a lethal amount of drugs

There's no question that Marilyn Monroe's tragic death shocked many, and in the aftermath of her passing, there has been no shortage of theories speculating about her death. According to The Buffalo News, biography writer Donald Spoto (who also wrote books on Alfred Hitchcock, Laurence Olivier, and Tennessee Williams) offered his own theory on Monroe's death in his book "Marilyn Monroe: The Biography." Spoto wrote that the late star's passing was caused by an enema containing a lethal combination of chemicals that was prescribed by her psychiatrist and given to the Monroe by her housekeeper. In addition to this allegation, Spoto disputed the claims regarding Monroe's involvement with the Kennedy family. Spoto stated that the actress only had one sexual encounter with President John F. Kennedy, and said that reports of any fully-fledged affairs were nothing more than false journalist creations.

Additionally, Spoto declared that four friends close to Monroe confirmed that she had rekindled her relationship with ex-husband Joe DiMaggio and planned to remarry her ex on August 8, 1962, three days after her death. Additionally, a Los Angeles Times review claimed that Spoto's explanation for why Monroe's doctor asked the housekeeper to deliver the lethal chemicals to the star was that Monroe had fired the maid and was about to do the same to her psychiatrist.

One theory claims the CIA had the star killed

With no shortage of shocking theories regarding the death of Marilyn Monroe, Cosmopolitan reported that one bizarre claim stated that the "Some Like It Hot" star was murdered by the CIA. The theory's reasoning? Well, this allegation stated that the federal government agency ordered the star's death as an act of revenge on the Kennedys for the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba. So how are the two connected? According to Matthew Smith's book, "Victim: The Secret Tapes of Marilyn Monroe," audio recordings between Monroe and her psychiatrist supposedly revealed that the CIA knew that Monroe was having an affair with Robert Kennedy, and believed her death would hurt the Kennedy family.

If that isn't wild enough, Cosmopolitan added that this theory gained traction in 2015, when the fake news website World News Daily Report posted an article claiming that a retired CIA officer supposedly confessed on his deathbed that he had murdered Monroe. According to the false report, this statement was made by 78-year-old retiree Normand Hodge at Sentara General Hospital. The site alleged that Hodge was trained as both a sniper and martial arts expert and, in addition to killing Monroe, performed 37 other assassinations for the American government between 1959 and 1972. The outlet also claimed that Hodge said, "My commanding officer, Jimmy Hayworth, told me that she had to die, and that it had to look like a suicide or an overdose." Of course, this report was a hoax. 

There are plenty of theories about the Kennedys' involvement

While there are plenty of surprising theories regarding Marilyn Monroe's death, more than a few claims involve members of the Kennedy family. For example, Cosmopolitan offers up not one but two theories involving Robert F. Kennedy. According to the first allegation, RFK supposedly had the iconic star killed out of fear that she'd reveal their rumored affair to the world and ruin his career and public image. Frank A. Capell was the first person to put forth this theory in his 1962 book, "The Strange Death of Marilyn Monroe." Just two years after the book came out, rock journalist Anthony Scaduto wrote an article making a claim similar to Capell's, stating that RFK had Monroe killed for knowing too much insider information — though Cosmo notes that very few sources were used to support these claims. 

Then, of course, there's tabloid journalist Anthony Summers. In his 1985 book, "Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe," he claimed that RFK and his brother-in-law Peter Lawford pushed Monroe to do drugs and drink after she threatened to go public about the alleged affair with RFK. According to Summers' theory, the star then had an accidental overdose and died on her way to the hospital. Summers alleged that RFK and Lawford then staged her death to look like a suicide. The journalist added that then-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover also assisted with the cover-up. Summers' claims were also supported by Monroe's housekeeper, Eunice Murray, whom Summers interviewed in 1983. 

Some of the theories are seriously wild

While there are plenty of shocking theories regarding Marilyn Monroe's death, some of the supposed possibilities presented are truly bizarre. For example, a 1992 article about the book "Double Cross" claimed that Monroe was murdered by Mafia hitmen who inserted a deadly barbiturate suppository into the star. Their motive? To intimidate Monroe's alleged lover, then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and force him to stop harassing organized crime families. If that theory isn't wild enough, Cosmopolitan reported that in 1982, private detective Milo Speriglio similarly claimed that Monroe was killed by Jimmy Hoffa and the Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana in order to get the Kennedy family to leave them alone. Speriglio pushed this theory in his book, "Marilyn Monroe: Murder Cover-Up."

Of course, those theories aren't even the most shocking allegations connected to the "Niagara" star's death. In addition to these other claims, Cosmopolitan also reiterated a seriously strange theory that Monroe was murdered for knowing about the existence of aliens. According to the magazine, a 2017 documentary titled "Unacknowledged" alleged that the star had been planning to reveal top-secret info regarding the Roswell crash in 1947 and other highly guarded information. In the film, conspiracy theorist Dr. Steven Greer claimed that Monroe learned about aliens during her rumored affair with JFK. Greer also goes into detail about Monroe's plans to reveal the "truth," and stated that the CIA ordered her death in order to stop her.  

One report claimed that Marilyn Monroe didn't die in LA

With theories regarding UFOs, the CIA, and the Mafia being linked to Marilyn Monroe's tragic death, the speculation that the star didn't die in Los Angeles is hardly the wildest of the bunch. According to CBS News, some believe that the actress passed away at the Cal Neva Resort at Lake Tahoe. As noted by CBS, the circumstances surrounding Monroe's death have continued to intrigue those who were captivated by the late star. Similarly, many theorists do not believe that the official story regarding her death is true. Author of "Marilyn Monroe: A Case For Murder" Jay Margolis told the outlet that he believes there is no doubt that there was an elaborate cover-up hiding the truth about Monroe's death.

The theory that Monroe died at Lake Tahoe originated from Monroe's hairdresser George Masters and audio tapes he made in 1988. In these recordings, Masters alleged that on August 4, 1962, the blonde bombshell wasn't in Southern California but at Lake Tahoe at the Cal Neva Resort. Masters said he knew this because he was with her. Likewise, Hans Weig, a tour guide at the Cal Neva Resort, offered his take to CBS. He stated that the star was at the resort for just two days before leaving suddenly. "She had overdosed that day as well," Weig alleged. He later added, "if Marilyn Monroe did die here, she died in the heart shaped bed that used to be here."

Marilyn Monroe reportedly had a little book of secrets

With plenty of speculation surrounding the circumstances of Marilyn Monroe's life and death, the Independent reported that theories regarding the star's passing varied wildly depending on who was reporting. While some critics of the actress claimed that Monroe was a fading star who killed herself because her life was falling apart around her, others insist that Monroe was happier than ever during the time of her death. Still, some believe there's one source that could shed light on all these claims. The outlet stated that Monroe was known to have a little black book in which she documented her love affairs and memorable conversations. But regardless of these possibilities, the whereabouts of Monroe's book remains a mystery. 

As noted by the outlet, no one is sure just how many people had access to Monroe's house on the night her body was discovered. However, with Monroe's belongings being looked through, some believe that those searching were trying to find Monroe's book. 

One eyebrow raising theory claims that she's still alive

Out of all the theories regarding Marilyn Monroe's death, perhaps the strangest of all is John Alexander Baker's claim that the iconic blonde bombshell never died. As noted by Daily Star, Baker published his bizarre theory in his book "Marilyn Monroe: Alive in 1984?" in which the author insists that he met the star about 22 years after her reported death. Baker also uploaded a video on YouTube, titled "Marilyn Monroe, 'ALIVE,' in 1984? She didn't die in 1962," in which he expresses this controversial opinion.

So just what exactly is Baker's theory? In his video, the author claimed that Monroe did not die in 1962, and alleged that her death was staged. He stated, "Her psychiatrist Dr. Greenson had her committed to a mental institution in New Brunswick, Canada because of all the threats on her life and the complete mental breakdown she was suffering from all of this turmoil" (via Daily Star). Baker then declared that Monroe was held at the institution for approximately 20 years before she was released. He claimed that no one knew her true identity.

Likewise, in his book, Baker goes into further detail. He wrote that he met a hitchhiker named Norma Jeane, who knew everything about the star and bore a striking resemblance to Monroe. Following their meeting, Baker began researching the woman, claiming that what he discovered led him to believe he'd met Marilyn Monroe.