Why Marilyn Monroe’s Sudden Death Still Evokes Mystery, Questions 60 Years Later

It’s been 60 years since Marilyn Monroe was discovered on August 5, 1962, in bed at her Brentwood home, her lifeless hand draped over the telephone.

The shocking death of one of Hollywood’s biggest stars has generated decades of speculation as to whether his overdose was suicide, an accident or something more sinister.

The conspiracies reached such a point that the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office reopened an investigation into the actress’ death in 1982, 20 years after her death.

But conspirators wondering why the assistant medical examiner who performed the autopsy found no barbiturate residue in the 36-year-old movie star’s stomach if she had ingested the drugs orally were disappointed by the answers.

“DA Finds No Evidence of Murder of Marilyn Monroe,” headlined the Los Angeles Times in late 1982, just months after the DA’s investigation began.

The prosecutor’s office concluded that Monroe’s death from “acute barbiturate poisoning” could have been an overdose or accidental, but that the barbiturates had had time to disperse into his blood and liver, explaining why the doctor did not found no residue in his stomach.

The closed three-month investigation did not satisfy those who believed something nefarious had happened.

Some still believed she was killed because of her connections to President John F. Kennedy and the then-American attorney. Gen. Robert F. Kennedy.

In 1985, a woman claimed her ex-husband, actor Peter Lawford, went to Monroe’s house the night she died and destroyed a note the distraught actress had left before her death.

While it’s unclear if a note was actually taken, the assistant district attorney who led the 1982 reinvestigation, Ronald H. Carroll, said that still doesn’t mean the actress was killed.

“If she was discouraged and wrote a note saying, ‘Bobby Kennedy drove me to suicide,’ it’s not clear that taking that note would have been a crime,” he said.

Monroe’s FBI file, discovered 50 years after her death, showed the feds were aware of theories alleging the actress was murdered, but did not show the bureau investigated the allegations.

The FBI filing also revealed that the bureau was interested in Monroe’s political affiliations and called her a “positive and concise leftist.”

Reading list

Here’s more reporting from The Times about Monroe’s death and the decades of questions it sparked.

Los Angeles Times

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