Marilyn Monroe Death

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There are several theories surrounding the tragic events leading up to the day of Marilyn Monroe’s death on August 5th, 1962. Although her death was ruled to be “probable suicide”, there are several questionable events involved in her death that have made many individuals believe that she was murdered. The cause of death was determined to be “Acute Barbiturate Poisoning”, from an overdose of the sedative drug Nembutal, which is the market name for the drug Pentobarbital, a drug used as both a mild sedative or sleep aid, and in higher doses, for lethal injection. Several theories suggest different reasons for the actress’s ingestion of a lethal dose of this drug ranging from her supposed affair with RFK, to an accidental medical misfortune. Despite the inconsistencies and questions, no murder charges were ever filed from the investigation.



Although there are many different ideas as to who might have killed Marilyn Monroe and why, the two main arguments are centered around her involvement with the Kennedys and the American Communist Group in Mexico (ACGM). Many groups argue that her death was an effort to cover up a scandalous affair with a political figure, or an attempt to stop a leak of important political information from one government to another.

Robert F. Kennedy

Mainstream rumors arose in the 1970s that Monroe had intimate relations with president John F. Kennedy. Anthony Summers examined their relationship in two of his books and confirmed that Monroe had fallen in love with the president and made declarations of wanting to marry him during the 1960s. She routinely called the White House and the married JFK eventually had to break off the relationship. Monroe then became very depressed and turned to JFK's younger brother, Robert, to console her. Her last significant performance was the singing of "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" at a party for the president in Madison Square Garden.

In FBI files memorandum concerning the investigation of the death of Marilyn Monroe, there are several reports from, “previously reliable informants”, who could not be named, of her interactions with Robert Kennedy, although in many situations the information has been classified due to elimination from the original text, such as blotting out of specific names and places, there is a lot of remaining text that describes the relationship between RFK and herself.

“It became clear that a relationship was developing between subject and (blacked out Name) and considerable concern was expressed. (continued blacked lines) was clear that (blacked out Name) was completely infatuated with Monroe.” (FBI Declassified memorandum part 1)[1]

Although many of the accompanying details are lost in this paragraph, the context points to Kennedy as the subject of the blacked out lines. The surrounding information paints the picture of a deeply emotionally involved character that raises concern among their colleagues. However it cannot be confirmed, due to the blacked out information if the subject is definitely Kennedy there is more evidence in later accounts that points to him in the former. This information was given by a former special agent (blacked out name) in the FBI repot under the section Robert Kennedy; the authenticity of the information is questionable.

"Robert Kennedy had been having a romance and sex affair, over a period of time with Marilyn Monroe………Robert Kennedy was deeply emotionally involved with Monroe, and had repeatedly promised to divorce his wife and marry Monroe." (FBI memorandum part 2, Robert F. Kennedy) [2]

Although the special agent who acquired this account was unable to evaluate its authenticity, the coincidence between the former and latter accounts raises questions as to whether Kennedy’s relationship with Monroe had a part in her passing.

American Communist Group in Mexico(ACGM)

The other major player in the suspicious relationships of Marilyn Monroe was her association with members of the (ACGM). Her interactions were described as

“A loose association of a predominately social nature with present and/or past members of the communist party U.S.A., and their friends and associates that share a common sympathy for Communism and the Soviet Union.”(FBI memorandum part 1) [3]

Because of her relationship with this communist group Marilyn was considered by the FBI to be a national security risk, obligating them to keep a file on her interactions and making her somewhat of a political target. Marilyn’s involvement with these conflicting political groups may have been an influence in the events that caused her death, whether she was ordered dead by a nervous political figurehead or she took her own life out of confusion and fear remains unclear.

A Tragic Medical Mix Up

Another theory that is while tragic, is slightly less deplorable than murder, is that her death was the result of an accidental, but potent reaction between the barbiturate Nembutal and the chloral hydrate being used to wean her off of the drug. The assumption is that poor communication between doctors Greenson, her psychiatrist, and Hyman Engelberg, her internist, led to an improper prescription of the, would be substitute, sleep drug, which could have reacted lethally with the Nembutal. In Donald Spoto’s Marilyn Monroe the biography he quotes Dr. Greenson saying, “gosh darn it, he gave her a prescription, I didn’t know about.” (Spoto, Donald “Marilyn Monroe”) [2] It is possible that this breakdown in communiqué between doctors could have lead to a medical accident that proved fatal to their patient.

Timeline of Death

  • 7:00 p.m. - Dr. Greenson, Marilyn’s psychiatrist, leaves Marilyn’s house.
  • 7:15 p.m. - Joe DiMaggio Jr. calls Marilyn around 7: 15 p.m. to tell Marilyn that he is ending his engagement with another woman. She immediately calls Dr. Greenson, who states she was in good spirits.
  • 7:45 p.m. - Peter Lawford stated that he called to invite Marilyn to a party he was having, but said that she sounded heavily drugged.
  • 10:30 p.m. - Marilyn's agent Arthur P. Jacobs leaves a concert after being informed by Marilyn's lawyer, Mickey Rudin, that she has overdosed. (This is the first indication that Marilyn is dead)
  • Midnight - Dr. Greenson arrives and tries to break open the door but fails. He looks through the windows outside and sees Monroe apparently dead so breaks the glass to open the locked door and calls Dr. Hyman Engelberg.
  • 4:25 a.m. - Sunday morning, Dr. Hyman Engelberg, Marilyn's personal physician, calls the police to inform them that Marilyn had committed suicide.
  • When the police arrive, Sergeant Jack Clemmons notes that “She was lying face down in what I call the soldier's position. Her face was in a pillow, her arms were by her side, her right arm was slightly bent. Her legs were stretched out perfectly straight” (Moore, 2009). He also notes this is uncommon of a drug overdose, as body positions are usually convoluted.
  • The two doctors and Murray are questioned and indicate a time of death of around 12:30 a.m. (Contradicting the time of death of 10:30 p.m. as indicated earlier)
  • Police note the room is extremely tidy and that the housekeeper Murray was washing sheets when they arrived.
  • Police note that the bedside table has several pill bottles but the room contains no glass, nor water, and the water in the adjacent bathroom is turned off.
  • 5:40 a.m. - The undertaker, Guy Hockett, arrives and approximates the time of death between 9:30 and 11:30 p.m.
  • 6:00 a.m. - Murray changes her story and now says she went back to bed at midnight and only called Dr. Greenson when she awoke at 3 a.m. Both doctors also change their stories and now claim Monroe died around 3:50 a.m. Police note Murray appears extremely vague and she changes her story several times.


Many have contributed to the theories surrounding Marilyn Monroe's death, Norman Mailer published the first book, Marilyn: A Biography, to suggest that Marilyn's death was murder instead of overdose. However, his book included no citations and has very little validity. In 1974 Robert Slatzer published a book that describing his relationship with Marilyn and suggesting that she was murdered, the evidence for which came from an interview with Jack Clemmons, who, according to the 1962 FBI files, was a Sergent for the LAPD and first to arrive on the scene of her murder(FBI memorandum part 1). Many of the preceding novels and articles concerning Marilyn's death were publicized by "The New York Post" and other newspapers, as well as several television programs including 60 Minutes, Court tv, and CBS 48 hours investigation.


For years different concerned individuals have composed investigations and novels/biographies concerning the mystery around Marilyn’s death. Many of them are un-sited and in some cases farfetched and fictional, but they never cease to catch the attention of inconsolable skeptics, and concerned fans. More questions than answers began to arise when Marilyn’s live in keeper, Greenson, and others close to Marilyn refused to interview for personal reasons. Because of the questionable affairs involved in the death of Marilyn, conspiracy theories began to shape and thus more controversy with them.


The affairs that took part in the death of Marilyn Monroe are highly coincidental to say the least, but not necessarily authentic or incriminating. The blacked out lines in the FBI report could hold key information about exactly who and what was involved in her death. However, the evidence pulled from these documents, while highly plausible, relies on context to fill in the blanks. The evidence pulled from these files concerning the Kennedy family is very compelling, but the only account that specifically mentions the name Robert Kennedy is of unverifiable origin. The theory that she could have been killed for her involvement with the ACGM is mostly based on the assumption that she was enough of a threat to either the American government or her communist associates that either would have had to murder her in order to protect their self. The theory that her death was caused by a mix up in her prescriptions has very little evidence to support it and is, while a tragic medical mishap, both a risk anyone who is receiving any kind of psychiatric drug takes, and ,considering that it was not technically a crime, a cover up to avoid malpractice suit at most. Most of the conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Marilyn Monroe are highly evidential for the controversy surrounding her death; there is little evidence concerning the "murder" itself. The theories while at least plausible, due to the existence of compelling evidence, remain theories at best, until further investigation can prove them correct or incorrect. For now her death remains a “probable suicide”, as it was written on the coroners report.


1. FBI declassified memorandum

2. Spoto, Donald (1993). Marilyn Monroe: The Biography.

3. "The Death of Marilyn Monroe - Crime Library on". Retrieved 2010-02-18.

4. "The Marilyn Tapes," CBS News 48 Hours Mystery, August 1, 2006. Retrieved 2010-02-18.

5. Court TV: Crime Library. Retrieved 2010-02-18

6. Aaronovitch, David (2010). Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History.

7. Moore, S. (2009, March 18). The Death of Marilyn Monroe. Retrieved from

8. Thor, J. (2009, July 7). The Death of Marilyn Monroe. Retrieved from

9. Marilyn Monroe - death(n.d.). Retrieved from

External Links



Crime Library on

"The Marilyn Tapes," CBS News 48 Hours Mystery

60 Minutes

Related Topics

Unexplained Death



Drug Overdose

FBI vs. Hollywood Bias

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