Fifty-Five Years Later, Examining the Mystery of Marilyn Monroe's Death
A TRAGIC ENDING
On August 5, 1962, the Brentwood, Calif., police received a surprising call: Marilyn Monroe – the most celebrated woman in the world – was dead at age 36. Discovered by her housekeeper, the star was found naked next to a collection of empty pill bottles. The death was pronounced a "probable suicide," but as the 50th anniversary of Monroe's death approaches, rumors continue to swirl about what really happened to the blonde bombshell.
WAS THERE A DIARY?
One of the mysteries surrounding Monroe's death is the idea that she kept a secret diary. Some say it contained shocking political secrets – like the enduring belief that she had affairs with both President John F. Kennedy and his brother Attorney General Robert Kennedy. Others say it was merely an address book.
"She was actually a very strong, strong person," says photographer Lawrence Schiller of Monroe. "But when she was getting older, she was looking for her father, searching for her mother, searching for answers, and she couldn't find them."
TUNE FOR THE TROOPS
In happier times: In the middle of her 1954 honeymoon with second husband Joe DiMaggio, Monroe made a pit stop in Korea to serenade U.S. soldiers with "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" – an event Monroe later described as "the highlight of my life."
HER ROYAL AUDIENCE
Two years later in 1956, Monroe met Queen Elizabeth II at the London premiere of The Battle of the River Plate. Monroe's charming, light-hearted public persona was what most people remembered her for. "I never heard her say an unkind word," says friend George Barris.
Monroe and her third (and last) husband Arthur Miller stayed at the Parkside House in Surrey, England, while she shot The Prince and the Showgirl in 1956. It was during this trip that holes began to appear in the Miller marriage, which ended five years later.
HER LAST HOME
Purchased just months before her death, Monroe's Brentwood, Calif., hacienda, the house where she died, was an atypically modest home for a movie star.
SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS
On Aug. 6, after being released by the coroner, Monroe's body was taken to Westwood Village Mortuary to be prepared for her funeral services. Many facts from the night of her death don't add up, according to Donald Wolfe, author of The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe. For one: Why more than five hours passed between the time Monroe's housekeeper claimed to have found the body and the time the police were called at 4:25 a.m.
"She wasn't escaping into the darkness of night all the time [back then]," says Schiller, who often shot the iconic star. "Life had put her in a corner and she was trying to get out."