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The Tragic Death of Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe lived what most people considered the American Dream. She was a movie star with fame, wealth, and unparalleled beauty. Her friends and lovers were a who’s who in Hollywood and beyond. Yet, beneath the surface brewed a woman in turmoil. Marilyn suffered from severe depression that manifested through destructive behaviors such as sexual promiscuity, substance abuse, and emotional detachment. She had numerous failed relationships and marriages. Marilyn was unable to meet work deadlines, and at times, she failed to even go to work, which resulted in studios firing her several times. At the end of her life, Marilyn engaged in daily therapy sessions and had a live-in assistant at the request of her therapist.
Fame and fortune did little to mitigate her depression. Over the years, Marilyn attempted to take her life at least four times. Based on her unstable moods and erratic behavior, she was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Though her public persona was one of glamour and success, the personal side, the real Norma Jean Mortenson, was sad, depressed, and struggled with inner demons.
At Marilyn’s Brentwood, California residence in the early morning hours of August 5, 1962, Marilyn’s live-in assistant, Eunice Murray awoke unexpectedly. She was alarmed to find the light on in Marilyn’s bedroom with a phone cord running under the door. After receiving no response, she attempted to open the locked bedroom door. Unable to open the door, she called Marilyn’s psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson, who proceeded to Marilyn’s residence.
Upon his arrival, Dr. Greenson and Eunice Murray walked around the outside of the house to Marilyn’s bedroom window. Marilyn was lying motionless, face down on her bed. Dr. Greenson broke the window and climbed into the room, but Marilyn was already dead at the age of 36. The coroner later declared her death a suicide resulting from an overdose of sleeping pills.
This was, and still is, the official record of how Marilyn died. However, many of the circumstances surrounding her death do not support this conclusion. Eunice Murray later acknowledged that light could not be seen from under Marilyn’s bedroom door due to the thick carpeting. Further, Marilyn’s bedroom door did not have a lock on it.
When Officer Jack Clemmons of the Los Angeles Police Department arrived at 4:30 a.m., he found numerous prescription pill bottles next to Marilyn’s bed. Dr. Greenson confirmed Marilyn’s unstable condition and noted her past suicide attempts. Regardless, Officer Clemmons was immediately skeptical. He could not find a drinking glass in Marilyn’s bedroom, making the swallowing of dozens of pills quite difficult. Marilyn had not vomited, and her body lay perfectly straight, which was inconsistent with his experience. Most people who overdose from sleeping pills suffer convulsions and vomit. This violent reaction usually results in the person dying in a contorted position.
The police interviewed witnesses, but they achieved little clarity. Though Dr. Greenson and Eunice Murray originally told the police that Marilyn died around midnight, in a second interview, they told the police she died at 3:40 a.m. The more the witnesses spoke, the more confusing and mysterious the previous night’s events became.
Relying on information provided by the eyewitnesses, Dr. Thomas Noguchi, who conducted the autopsy, estimated the time of death as 3:40 a.m. on August 5, 1962. On the contrary, Marilyn’s primary physician, Dr. Hyman Engelberg who was present shortly after the police arrived, estimated her time of death many hours before he arrived, based on the level of rigor mortis. Further, Arthur Jacobs, Marilyn’s publicist, was notified of her death the night prior around 10:30 p.m.
Dr. Noguchi concluded that Marilyn died from barbiturate (sleeping pills) poisoning. He identified the cause of death as “probable suicide.” However, according to the autopsy report, no sleeping pills, or traces thereof, were found in her stomach or intestines, but were located in her blood and liver. If she died from swallowing these pills they would have been found in her stomach or intestines. Based on the dispersion of barbiturates throughout Marilyn’s body, ingestion likely occurred over a period of hours prior to her death.
Chloral hydrate, commonly referred to as a “Mickey,” was also found during the autopsy. It was found in Marilyn’s blood, not in her stomach or intestines. As a result, it was likely either injected into her bloodstream or entered her body hours prior to her death, though, no needle marks were found during the autopsy.
The autopsy report noted “faint lividity” on Marilyn’s back and the back of her arms and legs. Lividity occurs as a result of bruising associated with a pooling of blood at death. When a person dies, the blood stops circulating, and gravity drives it to the lowest point in the body. Dr. Greenson and Eunice Murray claimed they found Marilyn lying on her stomach, but the posterior lividity indicates that she was on her back at the time of death or shortly thereafter.
The two persons who held the key to understanding what happened to Marilyn, Dr. Greenson and Eunice Murray, held to the official record, shrugging off obvious discrepancies and contradictions. However, the story took on a new twist when Dr. Greenson made an interesting comment during a taped interview:
I can’t explain or defend myself without revealing things I don’t want to reveal…You can’t draw a line and say I’ll tell you this but I won’t tell you that…it’s a terrible position to be in…I can’t tell the whole story…Listen…talk to Bobby Kennedy.
Without provocation, Dr. Greenson directed a reporter to then attorney general, Bobby Kennedy, for answers regarding Marilyn’s death. Decades later, Eunice Murray stated, “Why, at my age, do I still have to cover this thing? It became so sticky that the protectors of Bobby Kennedy had to step in and protect him.” Bobby Kennedy was again mentioned regarding the death of Marilyn Monroe. However, neither witness conveyed this revelation in a manner that implicated Bobby Kennedy in Marilyn’s death, just that he could provide clarity. Further, several people reportedly saw Bobby Kennedy at Marilyn’s house during her last evening alive, though it was never part of the official record. Elizabeth Pollard, Marilyn’s neighbor, saw Bobby Kennedy and two other men enter Marilyn’s house around 6:30 p.m. on August 4. A maintenance man for Marilyn, Norman Jeffries, also claimed he saw Bobby Kennedy at the house that evening.
Bobby Kennedy entered Marilyn’s life through his brother, President John Kennedy. Marilyn met John Kennedy through her friend and former lover, Peter Lawford. Lawford was married to Patricia Kennedy, sister to the president. The sexual liaisons between Marilyn Monroe and John, and later, Bobby Kennedy, were an open secret in Hollywood.
In May of 1962, Marilyn sang “Happy Birthday” to the president in Madison Square Garden in front of thousands of attendees. Her sexual delivery thrust the rumored affair into the forefront. As a result, President Kennedy cut off all contact with Marilyn.
Marilyn started regularly calling the White House. She reached out to anyone she thought could help her contact the president. In order to smooth the transition, the president tasked Bobby with calming Marilyn. Bobby’s role as babysitter quickly turned into an affair of its own. During their numerous encounters, Bobby often discussed his job as attorney general, and many of the topics were sensitive. Marilyn, not wanting to appear unsophisticated, captured the information in her diary so that she could later research and study the topics.
Bobby learned of the diary and chose to end his relationship with Marilyn. On the day of her death, Bobby flew from Northern California to Los Angeles to speak with her. According to Marilyn's hairdresser, Sydney Guilaroff, Marilyn called him shortly after Bobby Kennedy and Peter Lawford left her house. She indicated that Bobby had threatened her.
Marilyn was hysterical, and someone most likely administered a sedative drug via syringe or enema to calm her. The person was probably unaware of the massive quantity of drugs Marilyn had already ingested, as she had been self-medicating throughout the day. As a result, Marilyn likely died almost instantly from the massive infusion of choral hydrate or barbiturates coupled with the existing drugs in her body. Marilyn’s death was followed by a poorly crafted concealment. Her body was moved, the time of death was changed, and the scene was staged to look like a suicide. Whoever administered the lethal dose of drugs was protected from embarrassment and possibly criminal charges.
Since someone administered a lethal dose, the result could have been intentional. It is a possibility, but the behavior of the witnesses suggested an accident rather than murder. Dr. Greenson and Eunice Murray clearly deceived the authorities regarding the circumstances of Marilyn’s death, but they did not convey fear or nervousness. Instead, they were relaxed and calm. When the eyewitnesses were pressed, they casually pointed toward Bobby Kennedy as a source of information on the death of Marilyn.
Marilyn Monroe was a deeply troubled and conflicted person who connected with society through her beautiful smile and projected magnetism. Her death was no less complicated. How Marilyn died remains clouded, but we are left with a vision of Marilyn as a famous and glamorous movie star, though the truth is much darker.
The Words of Lee Harvey Oswald
The short, complicated life of Lee Harvey Oswald intersected with numerous and questionable elements of society, which positioned him as a prime candidate for a conspiracy in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Oswald defected to the Soviet Union where he married a Russian woman whose uncle worked for the Russian National Police. Oswald was a member of the “Fair Play for Cuba Committee.” His uncle was an alleged associate of the mafia in New Orleans. Oswald’s interests and associations put him into close proximity with Cuban revolutionaries, organized crime, and various U.S. and foreign government agencies.
No one has established concrete information connecting Oswald to any of the above mentioned groups as anything more than that of an acquaintance or loose associate. Oswald’s proximity to these groups, coupled with the government’s incomplete investigation into the Kennedy assassination, has led to considerable speculation and discussion regarding his motives and potential supporters. Theories have ranged from Oswald as the lone gunman to his being completely unaware of what transpired, as well as innumerable theories in between. Oswald may have worked for the Russians, Cubans, Mafia, and/or the CIA, but that conclusion would be based more on coincidences and inference rather than on clear, tangible evidence.
By evaluating Oswald’s verbal statements, one can provide more definitive conclusions regarding his role in the assassination. The words he selected exposed his inner thinking. Oswald’s words betrayed him.
After the Dallas Police arrested Oswald, several law enforcement officers interviewed him, though no recordings were made. Notes were taken, but there was no verbatim account of the questions asked nor the answers given. Based on the inability to read his words, we cannot dissect his verbatim responses to police questions. However, he made several public statements that were televised on national television. During one of his appearances in front of the television cameras, Oswald made the following statement:
I don’t really know what the situation is about. Nobody has told me anything, except I have been accused of, of ah, murdering a policeman. I know nothing more than that. I do request for someone to come forward to give me, ah, legal assistance.
Oswald’s use of the word really implied that he did know what the situation was about on some level. He knew why the police arrested him and why he was subsequently being questioned. He just did not know everything surrounding his arrest. Why does Oswald believe there is more to his arrest than what he was told? Oswald’s statement revealed that he expected additional charges even though he tried to convey his ignorance of the situation.
Oswald went on to say that “nobody told him anything” with the exception of the accusation of killing a police officer. Most people would consider the accusation of murdering a policeman as serious. It is a capital offense. There are few crimes that draw the attention of the authorities quite like killing a police officer, yet Oswald relegated it to a lower status. Why would he downplay the accusation, unless he was aware of an even more serious offense, like killing of the President?
During a televised movement of Oswald in the county jail, the following exchange took place:
Reporter: Did you shoot the President?
Oswald: I didn’t shoot anybody, no sir.
Oswald seemed to deny shooting the President. What at first appeared to be a strong denial was not as convincing under further analysis. Oswald was not asked if he shot "anybody;" he was asked if he shot the President. He claimed he did not shoot anybody, which should encompass the President; however, it was a weak denial. It was easier for Oswald to say he did not shoot anybody rather than specifically identifying the person in question. He did not directly answer the reporter's question. He used the word “no,” but he placed it at the end of his response; therefore, it was distanced from the question asked.
Later, during a midnight press conference, the police paraded Oswald in front of the cameras.
Reporter: Did you kill the President?
Oswald: No, I have not been charged with that. In fact, nobody has said that to me yet. The first thing I heard about it was when the newspaper reporters in the hall, ah, asked me that question.
In front of the entire nation, Oswald issued what seemed like a convincing denial regarding the assassination. When asked if he killed the President, he responded, “No.” However, what sounded like a denial of killing the President, when reviewed, was not. His use of the word no was not directed toward the question. He answered "no" to a question that was not asked: whether or not he was charged with killing the President. Oswald offered no denial. He avoided answering the question asked.
Oswald went on to say that no one said anything to him about killing the President. And he added the word yet. The word yet implied that he expected to be charged with killing the President, but he had not at that point. Why would he expect to be charged with killing the President unless he was involved? The use of yet was a window into Oswald’s frame of mind. He knew what he did, and, most likely, he knew the potential evidence against him. He utilized semantics with his answer to divert the discussion toward the technical and legal aspects of his incarceration rather than whether or not he killed the President. Oswald’s responses demonstrate his above average intelligence and cunning, but also illustrated a person who was being evasive.
Upon analyzing Oswald’s words we find an individual who avoided answering direct questions. His statements were misleading. When he actually delivered a denial, it was weak. Oswald’s word choice demonstrated that he was not a patsy, but one who was directly involved in killing President Kennedy.