Unraveling The Mysterious Death of Marilyn Monroe
Initially ruled a suicide, the death of Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe is still a hotly-debated topic among her fans.
She was born Norma Jeane Mortenson in Los Angeles, California, but she found her success as a 1950s movie star going by the name of Marilyn Monroe.
Childhood was rough for Norma Jeane. Her mother, Gladys Pearl Baker, suffered from mental illness and was regularly admitted to mental institutions. Norma Jeane’s father was absent, and the instability from her mother’s illness essentially orphaned Norma Jeane. When she was just eight years old, her mother’s friend, Grace McKee, became her guardian, but Norma Jeane was still shuffled between almost a dozen foster homes and orphanages until she married her neighbor when she was 16 in 1942.
Hollywood or Bust
Despite the abuse and neglect from her childhood, Norma Jeane had her sights set on becoming an actress from a young age. Her plans caused her marriage to crumble after just a few years, and Norma Jeane became a model for area photographers. She began using the name Marilyn Monroe and went on to land roles in several Hollywood classics, including "How To Marry a Millionaire," "Some Like It Hot," "The Seven Year Itch," and "The Misfits."
Personally, Marilyn was dealing with rocky marriages to and messy divorces from baseball great Joe DiMaggio followed by playwright Arthur Miller. She was reportedly plagued by substance use disorders, causing her to abuse alcohol and prescription drugs in her 30s. The drug abuse only escalated in the summer of 1962 as her death unknowingly crept closer.
Goodbye, Norma Jeane
On August 5, 1962, Less than three months after she sang "Happy Birthday" to President John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe was found dead at 36 in her Los Angeles home.
When police arrived, Marilyn was lying in her bed covered by a sheet. Her nightstand was littered with pill bottles, many of them prescribed for sleeping. Immediately, authorities suspected she had overdosed, but Marilyn’s closest friends were incredulous.
Marilyn had spoken with friends earlier on August 5, and she seemed upbeat. There was no indication that she felt suicidal when she hung up the phone.
Her body was taken for an autopsy where the initial report showed fatal levels of barbiturates, a type of sleeping pill, in her bloodstream, but a closer examination of her stomach contents revealed something surprising — there were no pill fragments in her stomach at the time of her death.
But if it wasn’t a suicide, how did she die?
Several conspiracies still swirl around her demise, including a theory that she was killed in order to keep her quiet about an illicit affair with John F. Kennedy.
Could the secret to her death be within the Hollywood Museum? Find out on Mysteries at the Museum streaming now on discovery+.