Exactly ten years on, Brittany Murphy's mysterious death is still haunting Hollywood.

On December 20, 2009 – some 14 years after she exploded onto our screens as the naive but endearing Tai in the aptly-named Clueless – Brittany Murphy collapsed in the bathroom of her Hollywood home, passing out in the arms of her mother Sharon.

Her big smile, wide eyes and distinctly recognisable voice from years on film would be lost, her future stolen, her life ending at just 32.

Watch the trailer for Clueless, it’s still just as good 14 years later. Post continues below.

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It would make headlines and the world would reel. Her death would be ruled an accident – the Coroner’s report citing pneumonia, anaemia and prescription drugs as causing an “accidental death” from “natural causes.”

The headlines would come and go, but the confusion would always linger. And every few months, her story resurfaces.

After all, five months after Murphy’s death, her husband Simon Monjack would eerily die in near identical circumstances. The questions came quickly and never stopped: Were they related? Was it a coincidence? Was there more to their deaths than the public was ever told?

Ten years on, Brittany Murphy’s death continues to confound Hollywood. This is why.

Image: Getty.

Brittany Murphy's death

In the weeks after her death, the coroner concluded Murphy died of a lethal concoction of things: pneumonia combined with anaemia and “multiple drug intoxication” from prescription medication.

“She was really sick with pneumonia, very anaemic, and she was taking medication and all that combined killed her,” Coroner Asst. Chief Ed Winter told PEOPLE at the time.

Winter believes that had Murphy just presented at a doctor with those symptoms, she would still be alive today.


“This death could’ve been preventable,” he said. “Murphy was planning on seeing a doctor, but she unfortunately passed away before she did. This was a case of a person with pneumonia who was anaemic and was taking medication when she should’ve been getting medical treatment.”

In the months before his own death, Murphy's husband was forced to defend himself against allegations he should, and could, have taken her to the doctor sooner.

He told PEOPLE in the months after her death that Murphy “was being properly taken care of.”

“I had no idea she had pneumonia. I took very good care of my wife, she was on an antibiotic and she was taking cough medicine and doing all the right things,” he said.

Simon Monjack's death

On the 23rd of May, 2010, Murphy's husband Simon Monjack was found dead in the couple's bedroom.

Though initial rumours around his death focused on a potential drug overdose of heart attack, it was found he too died from acute pneumonia and severe anaemia. However, Monjack's death did not involve drug intoxication as Murphy's did.

Rumours of a troubled relationship

The deaths of Murphy and Monjack were shrouded in uncomfortable rumour about the state of their relationship. For one, despite the fact they were married for three years, Murphy deliberately left him out of her will.

Her will – believed to be worth a few million dollars – was left to her mother.

And there's no way to fall back on the excuse that it was written before he entered her life – the will was specific. “I am married to Simon Monjack who I have intentionally left out of this will," she said.


Compounding with this was a more general sense that Monjack had a kind of shady past.

George Hickenlooper, director of the movie Factory Girl, called him a “con man and a bad guy”.

Shortly after Murphy passed away, Hickenlooper wrote on a blog: “I only hope that this creep wasn’t instrumental in her sad demise”.

Monjack himself believes his relationship with Murphy wasn't celebrated by the Hollywood elite because he wasn't famous.


"My problem is that I do not look like [Murphy's ex-boyfriend] Ashton Kutcher," Monjack told the The London Daily Mail. "Nor do they [the Hollywood elite] like the fact that she [Murphy] married someone who was not famous. Here, stars like stars to marry other stars."

In addition to this, Monjack reportedly had two warrants for his arrest over alleged credit-card theft and fraud. He was jailed in 2007 for overstaying a tourist visa, was evicted from four houses and had two unpaid legal bills amounting to over US$500,000.

The mould theory

For a time, the Los Angeles County coroner investigated whether household mould played a part in the twin-like deaths of the couple.

However, in their investigations, the coroner found no traces of mould in the toxicology reports.

Ed Winter from the Coroner's Office instead told E! News though it is "rare" for the couple to die in such a similar way, it can be explained by looking into their lifestyle.

"They both had similar causes of death," Winter said. "Brittany had an overdose of over-the-counter meds along with pneumonia and anaemia, and Simon died of, again, pneumonia, he was anaemic and his overdose was from prescription meds.

"I think it could have been preventable. The problem is Simon would doctor shop and got numerous medications with numerous names and had a problem with prescription meds. Brittany was sick and instead of getting her treatment, Simon and her mother didn't take her to the doctor and used an abundance of over-the-counter meds."


The poison theory

In 2013, after ordering an independent analysis of her toxicology report, Murphy's dad Angelo Bertolotti found high levels of toxic metals, including Barium – which is used in some rat poisons – in her hair.

However, Murphy's mother refuted Bertolotti's claims her daughter may have been murdered, writing for the Hollywood Reporter in 2013 "his claims are based on the most flimsy of evidence and are more of an insult than an insight into what really happened".

"In light of the recent publicity about a lab test Angelo had done, I have asked some knowledgeable people, and they tell me that an analysis from a sample of hair is not considered dependable unless it is backed up by tests of tissue and blood and other analysis -- which he did not do," she wrote.

Tributes from her fans and cast mates, 10 years on.

It's been ten years, two deaths, many investigations and ever more serious and salacious rumour.

A decade on, Brittany Murphy's death continues to baffle and haunt Hollywood while her presence is deeply missed on our screens.





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