The New York Daily News headline put it very simply that summer day in 1962: MARILYN DEAD. No one needed to be told which Marilyn.
The most photographed woman in the world seemed to know the end was at hand when she said to her friend Peter Lawford that Saturday night— “Say goodbye to Pat, say goodbye to the president and say goodbye to yourself because you’re such a nice guy.”
Even now the world still does not know exactly how or why she died — whether by murder, suicide or accidental overdose.
Marilyn Monroe’s last day on earth — August 4, 1962 — took place mostly in her home at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive in Los Angeles, California.
She walked into her kitchen around 9 AM in a white shower robe for a glass of grapefruit juice. Her friend and publicist Pat Newcomb had stayed overnight and was sleeping in the guest room.
An hour later photographer Lawrence Schiller pulled up to the house with photos from the swimming pool scene in the ill-fated movie Something’s Got to Give. Marilyn showed him the newly remodeled guest cottage and then selected the pictures she liked best. Later Schiller described her as looking fresh and “without a care.”
Newcomb, who had just come down with a case of bronchitis, arose at noon and she and Marilyn had a cross conversation. “She seemed angry I had been able to sleep and she hadn’t — but something else was behind it all,” said Newcomb.
In the early afternoon Monroe stopped by Peter Lawford’s oceanfront estate. The star of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Some Like it Hot walked along the Pacific shoreline with several of Lawford’s guests, spending about one hour with them. Marilyn was “not staggering, but clearly under the influence and she wasn’t too steady in the sand,” stated William Asher, who was a director in Lawford’s production company.
Joe DiMaggio’s son called around 4:30 PM— shortly after Marilyn arrived back from the beach — but her housekeeper Eunice Murray told him that Marilyn was not home. Her former father-in-law, Isadore Miller, phoned around the same time and was told that Marilyn was getting dressed and would call him back later. He never talked to her again.
Joe DiMaggio, Jr. finally made it through around 7 PM when Marilyn herself picked up the phone. He told her he had broken off his engagement with the young woman he had been dating. Later he described her as cheerful and alert in a statement to police.
Peter Lawford called at 7:45 PM to ask her once more to come to dinner. But now, less than 30 minutes after talking to Joe, Jr., Marilyn was slurring her words.
And say goodbye to yourself because you’re such a nice guy.
After the phone went silent Lawford became frantic. He dialed the operator but was told that the phone was either off the hook or out of order. At approximately 8:30 PM Marilyn’s attorney, Milton Rudin, reached Murray at the guest cottage and asked her to check on the starlet. Murray put down the phone and several minutes later came back and said, “She’s fine.”
Marilyn’s public relations representative, Arthur Jacobs, was at the Hollywood Bowl that night watching a concert. His wife, Natalie Jacobs, stated that an attendant came to their box around 10:15 PM. “Come with us right now, Mr. Jacobs,” he said. “Marilyn Monroe is dead.”
The timeline given to police by Dr. Greenson and Murray was quite a bit different. According to their version, Murray woke up at 3 AM and checked on Marilyn. After seeing a light under her door and finding the door was locked, she called Dr. Greenson, who instructed her to go around the side of the house and break a window into Marilyn’s bedroom. Murray did so and saw Marilyn lifeless and in the nude in her bed. The police were called at 4:25 AM and a squad car showed up ten minutes later.
Marilyn Monroe’s body was wrapped in a pink blanket, secured to a gurney and taken to the Westwood Village Mortuary at approximately 5:30 AM on Sunday, August 5. Several hours later she was taken to the City Morgue for an autopsy, which fell to deputy coroner Thomas Noguchi. His report described a blood count of 8 milligrams of chloral hydrate and 4.5 milligrams of Nembutal; he reported an additional 13 milligrams of Nembutal in her liver. Noguchi reported no signs of violence or a lethal injection site. He finished the autopsy at 10:30 AM as news of her death flared around the globe.
To purchase The Other Side of Marilyn Monroe by Brian Harker Johnson visit Amazon.com