August 4, 1962 – the Overdose


That Marilyn Monroe died by her own hand has been disputed for 50 years. Guaranteed, it will be in dispute for 50 more. There are numerous clues that Marilyn’s death was by her own hand. The conspiracy rumour was only that in my opinion – a rumour. There are no documents that actually state Marilyn was in danger. In spite of this, several people have stated since her death that many famous and non-famous people were in attendance at the Monroe house on the night and early morning of her death.

The Players

John F Kennedy/Robert Kennedy

There are documents thJohn_F__Kennedy,_White_House_photo_portrait,_looking_upat reveal her relationship with JFK but these seem to have functioned to attempt a public scandal with the President, thereby possibly ending his political career. Good luck. JFK was too intelligent a man for such a silly ploy. His people were manipulative and discreet. The President had indulged in hundreds of affairs since he became Senator. There was no reason to use Marilyn in order to expose his many liaisons. Many women could have been targeted to discuss JFK’s escapades, and in particular, these women could have been paid for doing so. Why Marilyn? The Kennedys themselves aren’t likely murderers. They simply aren’t that kind of people and they had no reason to kill the movie star. If anything, they could have bribed Marilyn into maintaining her silence about the relationship, that is, if she truly threatened to reveal it to the media. Marilyn however would have been foolish to tell the American public that she was sexually involved with JFK. Consider that people around the world loved the Kennedy clan, especially JFK and Jackie. Had Marilyn gone public with her affair, the general public tide would have turned against her. She already obsessed over her public image and being “made into a joke.” To be made into an adulteress betraying the First Lady would have ended her career. No director in Hollywood would have wanted to work with her, after such an admission.The Kennedy theory just doesn’t jibe.

In spite of this, people such as Deborah Gould the ex-wife of Peter Lawford claim that Bobby Kennedy was at Marilyn’s house the night of her death. Why he went to her home Gould didn’t say but that certainly sounds unlikely. If Bobby Kennedy was indeed next door at a dinner party at the Lawford’s and needed time to distance himself from Marilyn before the press arrived, why would he attend her house after she died? So-called scandals about the night of Marilyn’s death have so many holes in them as to be akin to cheesecloth.

The Ambulance Attendants – Ken Hunter and Murray Leibowitz
Marilyn’s pill-popping was legendary. She took chloral hydrate and Nembutal to go to sleep. She took pills to wake up in the morning, even though she suffered from insomnia, and for the euphoric feeling it gave her. Probably her grogginess over taking the barbiturates was the reason for the additional medication. Amy Greene, Marilyn’s long-time friend, insisted it was her muddled memory with taking all of barbiturates. All of her drugs were prescribed by various doctors. Marilyn wasn’t known to use hard drugs or street drugs. The night of her overdose she had four times the lethal dose of barbiturates in her body. Serious. Two ambulance attendants, Ken Hunter and Murray Leibowitz, arrived at the scene on the night Marilyn died.  Hunter claimed that Dr. Greenson contacted Marilyn’s regular physician, Dr. Hyman Engelberg, who arrived on the scene after the ambulance arrived, announcing he was Marilyn’s doctor and he wanted to treat her.

Hunter alleged that Engelberg pushed a syringe into Marilyn’s chest “although he did it EngelbergHymanwrong and the needle stopped. Instead of backing it out and starting it over he just leaned on it and it snapped and it broke her rib.” This has to be one of the most exaggerated tales about Marilyn’s death that I’ve ever heard. Was Engelberg really that careless a medic? I doubt it very much. The final touch lay in his comment that Engelberg  stated, “you can leave, I’m going to pronounce her dead. I was sick. We had her saved.” Now the killer isn’t the Kennedy’s but Marilyn’s physician, Dr. Hyman Engelberg (pictured right).The attendant claims he was given six polygraphs and was put under hypnosis twice in order to identify Marilyn’s doctor that night. Seriously. Anything for that 15 minutes of fame. Hunter also claimed that although Marilyn was dead “and they wouldn’t let us take her.” He stated that Marilyn “was pretty cold at that time. She was blue…I could stand across the room and tell that she was dead.”

Dr. Engelberg
As for Engelberg, in a September 1987 telephone interview with Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, he claimed “only one [medication] had been prescribed by me. I had prescribed Nembutal to help her sleep but as I recall to the best of my ability I was surprised to see on the side of her bed a large number of other sleeping pills which looked like sepocal, which she had apparently purchased on her recent trip to Mexico. It’s my understanding that in Mexico in those days you could walk into any pharmacy and buy, you know, any tranquilizers or sleeping pills you wanted.” Engelberg commented on finding chloral hydrate among Marilyn’s medications. He claimed “I know that the coroners told me after that they had found evidence of barbiturates and chloral hydrate. I knew nothing about any chloral hydrate. I never used chloral hydrate [for my patients].”

Engelberg’s testimony conflicted with Dr. Greenson’s, who claimed that Engelberg was prescribing chloral hydrate. Greenson had advised him not to prescribe anymore chloral hydrate as he was prescribing Marilyn Nembutal and the combination could be lethal.

Jeanne Carmen
Jeanne Carmen, a legendary pin-up girl in her own right and Marilyn’s good friend, recalled the last evening of Marilyn’s life quite emotionally, Marilyn telephoned her friend asking her to come over, and Carmen insisted “I can’t do it tonight Marilyn. I jusjeannet can’t do it.” She explained in a subsequent interview that she’d been out “partying” all night and was quite intoxicated. Quite understandably, Carmen didn’t want to drive halfway across the city to Marilyn’s house in that state. She was tired and she didn’t want to drive drunk, possibly having an accident or getting pulled over by the police. That was the last time she spoke to Marilyn. She didn’t believe Marilyn was suicidal but neither did she state outright that she thought Marilyn was murdered.

Various Friends
Several telephone calls allegedly took place at Marilyn’s house on her last day alive. She had a friendly phone call with Marlon Brando that cheered her. She confirmed business arrangements regarding photo shoots and interviews with various photographers to enhance public relations. Marilyn spoke to Joe DiMaggio Jr., who informed her he was not going to marry a girl Marilyn disliked; this buoyed her spirits for a while. She contacted Jeanne Carmen and requested her company, although Carmen refused to attend Marilyn’s house. There were other documented telephone calls. Marilyn worked her mechanical friend hard on the last day of her life.

Eunice Murray
A strange parcel was delivered to Marilyn halfway through the day carrying a stuffed tiger. After she received it, Marilyn looked very down. She cuddled it as she sat beside her pool. It is possible that the tiger was a message from someone. She didn’t receive any other packages or mail on that day that Eunice Murray eunice-murrayremembers. Murray remembers nothing especially unusual about Marilyn’s behavior when she retired for the evening. Her only sad moment seemed to be when the stuffed toy was delivered to her house. She stated “I can’t as a layman describe her as depressed but I know she had her problems. On this particular day she was not lively and enthusiastic. She was very quiet.” When asked if Marilyn seemed like someone who would later take her own life, she replied,“I doubt that very much…she told me after she took the first dose [of medication] sometimes she would forget and she would take a second dose very soon after. ”  Murray claimed Marilyn went to bed at 10:00 p.m. and had the telephone in her room. At midnight for no reason, Murray stated she became alarmed and contacted Greenson who came over to assist Marilyn. he in turn contacted Marilyn’s regular physician who also arrived and tried to resuscitate Marilyn. Clemmons stated that if the account was true then the people at the scene remained in the house with a dead body, not contacting authorities. She claimed that she found Marilyn’s body at 10:00 p.m. Years later during interviews, Murray stated she actually found the actress at 3:30 a.m. Then she contradicted herself and stated she found Marilyn earlier and she “didn’t know why I didn’t contact the authorities earlier.”

Pat Newcomb
Dr. Ralph Greenson
attended her home for her usual daily psychotherapy session. Her press agent, Pat Newcomb, had spent the night at Marilyn’s house the prior evening, and she’d slept in until noon,” a state of bliss that irritated”  the movie star. After strong words between the two PatNewcomb2women,Greenson advised Newcomb to leave the house which she did. Newcomb never saw Marilyn alive or spoke to Marilyn again although she returned to Marilyn’s house the following morning after hearing of the fatal overdose. Newcomb became irate when reporters gathered to film and photograph the scene. “Keep filming vultures!” she screamed. Years later she claimed she didn’t remember the incident.

Dr. Ralph Greenson
Greenson remained for the usual hour-long session then left. He too never saw Marilyn alive again although she would contact him by telephone later that evening, explaining she couldn’t find her pills and could he please bring her some? This didn’t alarm him, since not having pills meant she wasn’t in danger. The last time Greenson attended her house was to try to resuscitate her after the overdose. Greenson supposedly smashed a window in an attempt to reach Marilyn. a picture in this video displays the “smashed” window. It was later revealed that there were “no notes but since the actress was known to have been depressed of late the coroner lists the death as apparent suicide.There is dispute however about the time that Greenson found the actress dead. One version of the story states he arrived at her house at 10:00 p.m. Another version states he didn’t arrive until 3 a.m. Later Greenson told the coroner Marilyn had taken 47 Nembutal pills and an unknown amount of chloral hydrate pills. Greenson supposedly muttered something to the effect of “I told him not to prescribe her chloral hydrate”, referring to Marilyn’s regular doctor, Dr. Hyman Engelberg.This contradicted Engelberg’s testimony that he prescribed Marilyn Nembutal and not chloral hydrate.

Robert Slatzer
The ambulance attendant, from the Schaefer Ambulance Company, whose comments are detailed in the first paragraph involving Dr. Greenson, was summoned either on August 4 or August 5, depending on which version you believe. Supposedly two other drivers were in attendance: Murray Leibowitz and Ken Hunter. Walter Schaefer told reporters and police at the time that his company hadn’t been called to the scene. A book entitled The Marilyn Files by Robert F. Slatzer, a friend of Marilyn’s while she was filming Niagara,, states that twenty-five later, Schaefer changed his story and told Slatzer that his company was indeed at Marilyn’s house and that the ambulance had taken her body to Santa Monica Hospital. For his part, driver Leibowitz claimed he wasn’t at Marilyn Monroe’s house on the night of her death. He also claims he received a great sum of what he called “hush money” after her funeral and “the only reason that I’m still working at Schaefer’s is to keep up appearances.” Leibowitz didn’t say who gave him the supposed hush moneyNow even the ambulance driver is involved in this so-called conspiracy.

Years later he described the night of Marilyn’s death in great detail. It’s not likely that he recalls slatzerevery development accurately. Time has a way of confusing even the most astute memories. And of course, people love to embellish their role in any facet of their lives. Who wouldn’t want to embellish their attendance at Marilyn Monroe’s house on the night of her death? It is he who gave the summation about Dr. Greenson’s supposed cover-up of Marilyn’s death. He also claimed that Marilyn was resuscitated but Greenson insisted on taking her off oxygen and declaring her dead. That’s what I mean by embellishment. He also insists that after they brought Marilyn’s body to the hospital they were ordered to bring her back to her Brentwood home again, which they did. This was the basis for the cover-up in Leibowitz’s opinion. Returning the star’s body to her house has to be one of the tallest tales about Marilyn’s life I’ve ever heard. Slatzer could only speculate as to why this happened and of course he blamed this bizarre development on the Kennedy’s. (The picture to the left is Robert Slatzer).

Slatzer states Bobby Kennedy was at the Lawford dinner party the night Marilyn was invited to attend, and in order for him to leave Lawford’s house without being suspected of any involvement in Marilyn’s death, her body was sent to the hospital to distract people at the scene. After he was safely away from the Lawfords, Marilyn’s body, for some strange reason, was returned to her home. The implication is that Kennedy wanted her to be returned to her home so that she could be found in her bed hours after he’d left the Lawfords. I really don’t believe Kennedy was that devious or stupid. Waiting hours to contact the police and coroner meant that Marilyn would develop rigor mortis and lividity. Lividity is a phenomenon that occurs when the blood in the body drops to the lowest part of gravity, the part of the body the victim is lying on, and deep discoloration appears in this area. This did in fact happen, which is not extraordinary. It also confirmed that Marilyn was indeed on her stomach (and holding the phone receiver in her hand after speaking to Peter Lawford) upon her death.

To put Slatzer’s theories into perspective, he also claims to have married Marilyn during the filming of Niagara. After the weekend ended, she started to cry, worrying about Joe DiMaggio and the press learning of her marriage, so they had it annulled. Seriously. This fat, homely, young man claims Marilyn married him? She must have been drugged. Yes it’s mean of me to call him fat and bobhomely, but he was at the time of their so-called marriage. Why on earth would Marilyn marry Slatzer? Hey, if you’re looking for your 15 minutes of fame, you’ll get it…but not necessarily the way you want it, especially when ridiculous fabrication is part of those 15 minutes. He also claimed he was at Marilyn’s house on the morning she died (if it was August 5 and not August 4). Why would anyone have called him to the house? He even testified in his book that most of the glass from Marilyn’s window after Greenson had smashed it, was outside on the ground, rather than in the house, implying that Greenson was lying about breaking the window from outside the house. Slatzer really needed that 15 minutes of fame. He just isn’t that important in Marilyn’s death. In fact, he isn’t important insofar as Marilyn’s death is concerned at all.

Several people are skeptical about Slatzer’s tale that he and Marilyn were wed.Slatzer has only 3 photographs of himself and Marilyn, all of which were taken on the set of Niagara. The photograph shown here has an inscription by Marilyn” Bob, Luck and Love, Marilyn.” Those are hardly the words of a smitten woman. The pictures don’t look especially intimate. Slatzer’s arms are around Marilyn but the shots are obviously “posed.” However at this time, it was public knowledge that Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio were dating. The relationship was becoming very serious, “not far off marriage.”

Sam Giancana
If you believe in the Marilyn and the mob theory, you’ll accept that Giancana sent his henchmen to Marilyn’s house to give her a lethal enema that contained Nembutal. This explains the colonic bruising supposedly found in Marilyn’s colon and explained some surface bruising when she was held down. Giancana claimed they killed Marilyn at the time that Kennedy was at Lawford’s, next door to Marilyn. He supposedly alleged that he set up the relationship between Marilyn and the President in order to publicly discredit the Kennedy’s since the he and Bobby had “double-crossed” the mob, after it helped the two men to get elected. Killing Marilyn while Bobby was next door at the Lawfords’ was an attempt to bring down the Kennedy brothers. I am constantly amazed at the imagination of laypeople.

Sam_Giancana_00Giancana set up Marilyn Monroe with JFK to trap him in a conspiracy? That in itself is hard to swallow. Then the mob killed Marilyn in order to frame Bobby Kennedy? I really can’t envision the mob using Marilyn to ruin the Kennedy brothers. They may certainly have known of her affair with the President, as many people did, but at the most if they showed any interest in the relationship, it would only have been to photograph the two together and perhaps to tape telephone calls between them. But murder the movie star? And the Kennedy’s needing help from the mafia to win elections is one of the most ludicrous claims I have ever heard. The Kennedys were a very wealthy, charismatic family. Once JFK married Jackie Bouvier, his political and social status rose considerably.The last thing they would need or do was to become involved with the mafia. They certainly didn’t need the assistance of career criminals to get elected.

Jack Clemmons
Jack, a police sergeant, was contacted by telephone at 4:20 a.m. on Sunday morning, verifying that Marilyn’s body was still at home on the fifth. He claimed the caller was Ralph Greenson, who told Sergeant Jack Clemmonshim Marilyn was dead. Clemmons claimed the room was very neat and tidy but looking through the lens of a photographer who was at the scene on Saturday August 5, 1962, one can see the bedroom was anything but neat. The sheet on the bed was half on the floor. The night table with the vials of pills was a complete mess, including vials and various shuffled papers, even though Clemmons claimed it was tidy. He claimed that there was no glass in the bedroom for Marilyn to swallow the pills that killed her. Adtually a picture published in a still photograph taken in Marilyn’s bedroom, clearly shows a picture of a tall, dark glass with two straws.Clemmons also claimed that women never overdose nude and “to find this girl totally nude is out of the question.” His theory is usually correct as has been verified by researchers. Many women do their hair and make-up, and dress themselves in a flattering nightie or some such garment before taking a drug overdose. However, finding Marilyn nude was totally in the question. Marilyn always slept nude and often walked around her house that way. She didn’t own pajamas and she didn’t wear any underwear, including under her clothing when she went out.Some of her friends knew this to be fact since she told them. Marilyn didn’t even wear underwear when she menstruated and her New York housekeeper, Lena Pepitone, in her book entitled Marilyn Monroe Confidential, claimed she had “to change the sheets on Marilyn’s bed several times a day.” Jack Clemmons’ entire testimony can be called “into question.” He also claimed that Marilyn was in a “soldier position”, stretched out straight on the bed with her arms by her sides. This was suspicious as it appeared that someone had staged the scene. Photographs of the real scene reveal that Marilyn was certainly not in a soldier position. She lay on her stomach with an arm bent upwards holding the telephone receiver and her face turned sideways from the camera. It would seem that Clemmons’ testimony is out of the question.

George Barris
A friend and photographer of Marilyn’s received a telephone call from Marilyn during the afternoon of Friday August 4, 1962. She told him she desperately needed to speak to him in person and wanted him to fly out to see her in Los Angeles. She allegedly stated there were important tBarrishings she had to tell him. Since they were jointly working on her autobiography this statement made sense. He assured her if she needed him that badly he would fly out to see her on Monday (August 6). Little did he know that Monday would be far too late. Once Marilyn had urged Barris that “if something happens to me will you make sure you put it together the way we agreed?”  referring to an autobiography. That day and the following, Barris thought, “it can’t be! She’s expecting me Monday morning!” He kept questioning “how could she be dead? They didn’t know they just found her dead.” Barris stated in reference to her husbands, “she didn’t hate them but the frustration was she couldn’t get them to understand her.” Barris claimed the suicide was during the day on Friday, but clearly he is mistaken. He may be confusing the date for Saturday, August 5 although he is determined he spoke to Marilyn on the Friday and that she was dead by that afternoon.

Marilyn Monroe
A body tells police and coroners much information about death and the activities leading up to it. A body speaks for the dead to the living and yet so much has been disputed about the position Marilyn was found in and the time her body was found after the overdose. Clemmons claimed she in the soldier position described above. Pictures show she was on her back with the telephone receiver in her hand. Ken Hunter claimed she was lying on her side. He claimed her neck was discolored (blue) and this is how he remembered her as lying on her side. Yet photographs show otherwise.Marilyn’s position tells me nothing untoward happened to her and there was nothing suspicious leading up to her overdose. She still held the phone in her hand. She lay in a reasonably comfortable position. This is not the posture of a woman who struggled to prevent herself from an injection or an enema before her death. There is one trouble detail about the body: it looks as though lividity has occurred on Marilyn’s left arm and the left scapula (shoulder blade). If that is the case then she was indeed on her side for some time after her death and was rearranged onto her stomach. The discoloration however may simply be due to the quality of the photography.

Marilyn’s last telephone call added to the intrigue about her death: “say goodbye to the President and say goodbye to you too ’cause you’re a nice guy.” Her words suggest to me she had already deathtaken the overdose and was calling Lawford for help.Marilyn’s depression over Jack Kennedy sounds like a major contributing factor but it was certainly not the sole reason. Her usual, life-long insecurities and manic-depression must have played a role in her death. Mental illness is a staggering obstacle to overcome and Marilyn had to appear in public, looking spectacular, no matter what her frame of mind. I believe this is why she cancelled many engagements. Her statement that she was often late and absent for work wasn’t arrogance but “the opposite. Let’s start with that,” confirms to me that her fear of performing even after all the years she’d spent in front of the camera, hadn’t dissipated. Her fear of madness resulting from her mother’s inherited schizophrenia also tormented the actress. There were so many contributing factors to Marilyn Monroe’s death that regardless of the triumphs she had to live for, in the end the trauma won out.

So many of the eyewitness accounts of Marilyn’s last night contradict one another it is possible we will never know the full, true story of what happened to her. I personally believe it was an accidental overdose, due to the testimony of Eunice Murray and that of Amy Greene in a separate interview. It was, therefore, an accidental overdose. Why it was listed as probably suicide I’ll never know but this phrase has created decades of controversy about the nature of Marilyn Monroe’s death. The ambiguous phrase may have been due to the fact that the coroner, Dr. Neguchi, was young and relatively inexperienced, just one more odd development in the investigation.You’d think the most experienced coroner would be called upon to conduct the autopsy but this wasn’t the case.


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