Marilyn Monroe overdose death
During the early morning hours of August 5, 1962, Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her newly acquired Mexican-style Brentwood home. The 36-year-old actress, singer, and model died after overdosing on barbiturates.
The tragic elements of Marilyn’s private life were no secret to her friends, family, the celebrity world, or the public, and the press fervently sought to reap the benefits of her abiding publicity. Her distraught and broken childhood, unsuccessful marriages, an inability to bear children, and the constant onset of typecast roles all contributed to her depression and weak sense of security.
Although the starlet is one of the most memorable people of the 20th century and her celebrity will forever remain legendary, Marilyn Monroe was also known for her tardiness, inability to memorize her lines, and long periods between filming that she needed to recover from bouts of depression or illness. Many directors, costars, scriptwriters, and producers found the Hollywood goddess to be impossible to work with.
Remarkably, she always seemed to pull herself together, producing (mostly) successful films with her unmistakable talent and presence, even making special appearances both in and out of the country. The last years of her life were engulfed by her dependency on sedatives to control her emotional state; she also struggled with the “dumb-blonde” persona she felt she was typecast into and failed to escape both on- and off-screen.
The hype surrounding her torrid love affairs, the drama taking place behind the scenes, and an undying craving to be named the “Female World Film Favorite”—an award she received in 1961—added to her insecurities and kept her from having a stable family life. Her needs and incessant search for support and happiness started becoming unmanageable.
During her last years, Marilyn had regularly been seeing her doctor, Dr. Hyman Engelberg, and her psychoanalyst, Dr. Ralph Greenson. Both doctors were working together to combat her dependency on sleeping pills and other drugs. She was known to mix drugs with alcohol, which lead to some near-death experiences.
As needy and insecure Marilyn had become, she required the attention of both of her doctors on a day-to-day basis, sometimes twice a day. After she was pulled from the filming of Something’s Got to Give, her depression heightened as she dealt with increasing gossip and tabloid press regarding her drug use, as well as the re-marriage of her third husband, playwright Arthur Miller.
Although the two doctors had been in communication with each other regarding Marilyn’s drug intake, Dr. Engelberg failed to mention to Dr. Greenson that he had given Marilyn a prescription for 25 tablets of the sedative Nembutal the day before her death. Although many mysteries surrounding her death have been debated over the years in regard to the time of death, cause of death, who was present, and the involvement of foul play, the autopsy officially ruled her cause of death as being from “acute barbiturate poisoning—ingestion of overdose.”
The autopsy also showed no evidence of external violence to her body, but did show the presence of 4.5mg of Nembutal and 8mg of chloral hydrate in her system. Theories ranging from intentional suicide, accidental suicide, and accidental murder to a murderous conspiracy have all stemmed from that ill-fated night, but only the hard evidence should be considered when examining Marilyn’s drug abuse and unfortunate overdose.
Nembutal is a barbiturate known as pentobarbital, which contains sodium and calcium salt and is used as a sedative to treat insomnia, to slow the brain and nervous system during seizures, or as an anesthetic for surgery. It is typically administered for short-term use or as an emergency sedative. Nembutal is advised not to be prescribed to anyone with a history of depression, mental illness, suicidal tendencies, or addiction to alcohol or drugs. Nembutal is also known to become habit-forming and should always be administered properly.
Dr. Greenson and Dr. Engelberg had been attempting to wean Marilyn off the prescription drugs, and were supplementing her sleeping pills with chloral hydrate. But the amounts of Nembutal and chloral hydrate found in her system at the time of her death were a lethal combination that Marilyn unfortunately succumbed to.