Marilyn Monroe’s Autopsy Report and Cause of Death

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Marilyn Monroe's Autopsy Report
Learn about the circumstances surrounding Marilyn Monroe's death and the autopsy report.

About Marilyn Monroe

More than 50 years have passed since the world lost the beautiful, beloved sweetheart and sex symbol, Marilyn Monroe. Anyone who met her, watched her movies, or listened to her music, clearly remembers the wit, charm, and beauty that she brought to life on and off the silver screen. This article provides an overview of the circumstances surrounding her death. In addition, it provides information on the investigation that followed and the results of Marilyn Monroe’s autopsy report. How did she die? Was it a suicide? Was she murdered?

Born as Norma Jean Baker, this blonde-haired American actress struggled through many problems in her life. Deemed the first true sex symbol of Hollywood, Marilyn Monroe experienced tumultuous personal and professional relationships. Though she starred in many different movie roles, Marilyn Monroe often portrayed the role of a ditzy, innocent, and well-natured blonde.

Circumstances Surrounding Marilyn Monroe’s Death

During the last few weeks of her life, Marilyn showed some signs of trouble. Before her death, she was shooting for the film Something’s Got to Give with actors Dean Martin and George Cukor. Considered to be an ill-fated film from the very beginning, Marilyn often failed to show up on set because of sickness caused by mixing sleeping pills with alcohol. The film was never completed, and the production company eventually fired Marilyn.

On August 4, her manager recalled that she was facing problems with sleep and was acting annoyed and moody. During that time, she spent most of her with her friend and psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson. He noticed her mood and behavioral issues and prescribed a barbiturate to help her relax. The same evening, Joe DiMaggio, Marilyn’s fiance, visited her home to discuss their former relationship and possibly rekindle a new one. Reportedly, she spent that day in a great mood and even spoke to her close friends on the phone.

On August 5, 1962, Marilyn’s housekeeper, Eunice Murray, found her in the bedroom, nude and unresponsive. At 4:25 AM, the Los Angeles police department received a telephone call from her physician that she had committed suicide.

Upon arrival, the police detectives found her lying in her bed, along with an empty bottle of barbiturates. In many cases involving self-administered sleeping pills overdose, the victim will experience cramping in the legs and vomiting. As a result, their body ends up in a distorted position. However, the police found Marylin in a seemingly comfortable position on her stomach. Later this led to speculation that someone else administered the drugs.

Marilyn Monroe’s Autopsy Report – How did she die?

According to the certificate of death filed with the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder County Clerk, Marilyn Monroe’s autopsy report states that she died of acute barbiturate poisoning due to ingestion of overdose.

T. Noguchi, M.D., the Deputy Medical Examiner at the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Mortuary, performed the autopsy on August 5, 1962. In the report, he states that the official cause of death was a self-administered overdose of sedative drugs. In addition, he suggests that the mode of death is probable suicide.

The toxicologist determined that she had taken a lethal dose of Nembutal. Nembutal is a drug used to treat anxiety, nervousness, and tension. In addition, she took a hefty dose of chloral hydrate, a drug used as a sedative.

As part of the investigation into her death, the Psychiatric Investigative Team revealed their opinion about her life situation and why they thought it led her to take her own life. They revealed that Miss Monroe suffered from psychiatric disturbances such as:

  • Severe fear
  • Depression
  • Abrupt mood swings
  • Unpredictable behavior
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Suicidal thoughts (including several attempted suicides)

In the months before her death, she was under the supervision of a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist recommended that she reduce the number of drugs she was taking.

Was she Murdered?

Unfortunately, through the years, there was a lot of speculation about exactly how she died. Was it that she took too many sleeping pills? Did she commit suicide? Also, several conspiracy theories began to arise about her death. For example, there was speculation that someone murdered the actress. But who?

Due to her connection to the Kennedys, some suggested wild theories, such as someone in the CIA killing her.

In addition, there were ideas that someone administered the drugs rectally through an enema. However, the autopsy results proved that particular theory wrong.

Documentary Reveals New Insights

Also, a Netflix documentary, The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes, suggest that whatever the reason, the circumstance surrounding her case were covered up. In the documentary, an investigative reporter conducted more than 650 people connected to the case in some way. During his research, he encountered the family of Dr. Ralph Greenson, the Hollywood psychiatrist who treated Marilyn during her final years until she died. Interestingly, the family gave the reporter access to the doctor’s notes from his sessions with the sex symbol. Here are a few things he learned:

  • She tended to have paranoid reactions.
  • He thought her reactions were the type that he felt were masochistic
  • He didn’t think she was schizophrenic

He felt that she was extremely troubled by her childhood which involved spending time in an orphanage and foster homes. He thought she had been deprived of a normal childhood. Also, she desperately needed a family. Because she couldn’t be treated the usual way (from a psychiatric perspective), she began spending time with the doctor and his family. He had to conduct the sessions at his home. As a result, the family began to get to know her as a person.

Then, she revealed that she had a new man during an evening at the doctor’s home. The person was very important, and she only referred to him as “The General.”

Investigation Reopened

In 1982, 20 years after her death, the District Attorney in Los Angeles reopened the case.

FBI File

For more information, visit the FBI Vault to view their files on the well-known actress. The FBI compiled information on her before and after her death.

Questions and Comments

Dead at 36, her family, friends, and adoring fans worldwide will never forget her.

If you have any questions about Marilyn Monroe’s Autopsy Report, please leave a comment below. Get the scoop on more celebrity drama. Check out more Celebrity Investigations. You’ll find investigations related to Prince’s Autopsy, Michael Jackson’s Death, Robin William’s Suicide, and others.

Michael Kissiah is the owner of Brandy Lane Publishing, LLC, which owns and operates a small portfolio of websites, including eInvestigator.com. Michael created eInvestigator.com more than 20 years ago after working as a private investigator in the state of Florida. Since that time, he has become an expert at how to find information online and has written over 1000 articles on topics related to the investigation industry. In addition, he is the author of the "Private Investigator Licensing Handbook", available at Amazon.com.
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