The Tragic Death of Marilyn Monroe: Conspiracy or Suicide?

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When police arrived at the home of Marilyn Monroe early on August 5, 1962, they found her lifeless body in bed, surrounded by pills. They ruled it a probable suicide, but much remains unanswered. Was it really mental illness and drug abuse taking its toll, or a CIA & Kennedy plot to silence a girl who knew too much? I have a look.

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The Marilyn Monroe Suicide Conspiracies

 Marilyn’s death shocked the nation. She was just 36 years old and still in a position of beauty and fame. Reputedly, she had just signed a new contract with Twentieth-Century Fox and was looking forward to the next step in her career. In short order, allegations began to pour in about her rumored affairs with politically powerful figures like Robert Kennedy and John Kennedy, and the role these supposedly volatile relationships might have played in her death. Frank Capell’s book The Strange Death of Marilyn Monroe advanced the theory that Robert Kennedy knocked her off to protect his political career and public image from potential ruin. Iconic novelist and journalist Normal Mailer echoed similar claims in his book Marilyn: A Biography (1973), but later admitted that he embellished his allegations in order to make more money from book sales. Meanwhile, Marilyn’s housekeeper Eunice Murray, who was in the star’s home at the time of her death, gave police bizarre and contradictory testimony that fit the “unreliable witness” archetype perfectly. In later years she admitted that Bobby Kennedy had been at the house on the evening of Marilyn’s death.

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Coroners’ photos seem to show a disheveled woman in a state of despair or distress when she died. Marilyn was certainly addicted to barbiturates, but pills weren’t found in her stomach when her body was submitted for autopsy at the Long Angeles County Coroner’s Office. Long-term, heavy drug users generally metabolize substances faster than the average person due to tolerance. However, there is also the possibility that evidence was tampered with, or that the barbiturates were injected into her. This ambiguous finding is the basis for a theory by Darwin Porter, who suggests that Marilyn was murdered by the mafia under orders from top mobster Sam Giancana.

So was it a conspiracy, a suicide, or a bit of both?

It’s true that the mob had put its muscle behind the Kennedys, possibly playing a key role in his razor-thin victory against Nixon in the 1960 Presidential Election, so they had something at stake if a scandal hit the Kennedy administration. It’s definitely true that Bobby and John Kennedy had adulterous relationships with Marilyn that could cause political ruin. It’s also true that Marilyn was a troubled woman, living as a sex symbol and mega-pop star but also trapped within the narrow options provided to her by men in power. My personal feeling on this one is that the Kennedys were the straw that broke the camel’s back – mentally torturing her into suicide. Several reliable testimonials strongly indicate Bobby was present on the night of her death, possibly provoking a distressing argument and egging her on to overdose. It’s a strange footnote that John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy were both assassinated not long after Marilyn’s death (November 1963 and June 1968, respectively), but that’s a whole other ball of wax. What’s your take? Hit the comments and share!