How Did Marilyn Monroe Die? The Complete Story of an Icon’s Tragic Death

how did marilyn monroe die? young mayilyn on the beach in a bikini
Postcard photo of Marilyn Monroe. The photo is from her pre-stardom days when she did shoots for calendar photos, etc. Taken in the 1940s. Image is in the public domain.

Last updated on August 19th, 2023 at 08:14 pm

She was the blonde bombshell on the movie screen and a pin-up icon. Audiences everywhere loved Marilyn Monroe.

The actress and model inspired a range of emotions among her fans, from lusty to pity, envy to remorse. Her untimely death shocked the world.  

What happened to Marilyn Monroe? Was it suicide or foul play?

Find out below.

When Did Marilyn Monroe Die?

Marilyn Monroe died on Aug. 4, 1962, at her home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

marilyn monroe death
Publicity photo of Marilyn Monroe. Possibly for film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) which came out that year by 20th Century and shows her with the same hairstyle and similar earrings. Image by MC Zanico on Wikimedia Commons.

How Did Marilyn Monroe Die?

Marilyn Monroe’s cause of death was from an overdose of barbiturate, a depressant drug.

It was ruled a probable suicide after toxicology reports proved that the doses in her system were well over the lethal limit.

Lethal doses of Nembutal, an anxiety drug, and the sedative chloral hydrate, were also found in her system.

It was determined that she died between 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 4.

Who Found Marilyn Monroe?

Marilyn Monroe’s naked body was found in her bed in the early morning hours of Aug. 5, 1962.

Reportedly, her housekeeper, Eunice Murray, was staying overnight. Murray woke at 3 a.m. with a feeling that something was wrong; however, the door to Monroe’s bedroom was locked when she tried to get in to check on the Some Like It Hot actress.

Upon calling Monroe’s psychiatrist, Ralph Greenson, the latter broke into the room via the window and found the actress with several empty medicine bottles next to the bed.

Her physician, Hyman Engelberg, confirmed the death around 3:50 a.m. The Los Angeles Police Department was notified shortly after.

Related: How Did Amy Winehouse Die? The True Story Behind the Singer’s Tragic Death  

What Happened to Marilyn Monroe?

Several conspiracy theories surround Marilyn Monroe’s death, including foul play and accidental overdose.

These theories link to several high-profile individuals, including President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy, union leader Jimmy Hoffa, and mob boss Sam Giancana.

This led to further investigation by the Los Angeles County District Attorney two decades after her death, but no other evidence was found to support the theories.

Even after the new investigation, theories have spread throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

Two sources were books published suggesting murder. Those books were Marilyn: The Last Take by Peter Brown and Patte Barham, released in 1992, and The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe by Donald H. Wolfe, released in 1998.

In 2003, transcripts supposedly made from audiotapes recorded by Monroe not long before her untimely death were published in Matthew Smith’s Victim: The Secret Tapes of Marilyn Monroe

The transcripts led to the assertion that Monroe’s death was murder by the CIA in response to her association with Robert Kennedy. 

It was Smith’s second release on the topic following his 1996 book The Men Who Murdered Marilyn. 

Related: Is Beyonce a Billionaire? Beyonce’s Net Worth and More 

How Old Was Marilyn Monroe When She Died?

Marilyn Monroe died at the tender age of 36.

How Old Was Marilyn Monroe at Her Peak?

Marilyn Monroe was 32 years old at the peak of her career. By then, she was considered a sex symbol for her roles in film and her career as a pin-up girl.


How Did Marilyn Monroe Get Famous?

Marilyn Monroe was thrust into the spotlight for the nude photos published of her by Hugh Hefner in Playboy Magazine

She became the inaugural Playmate of the Month in 1953, although at the time it was known as the Sweetheart of the Month.

The photos had been shot four years earlier, in 1949, for which Monroe was only paid $50. Heffner bought them for $500 and published them in the magazine.

Was Marilyn Monroe Rich When Alive?

At the time of Marilyn Monroe’s death, she had a net worth of approximately $800,000. 

Monroe spent her money on many lavish possessions, including clothing, jewelry, and her home. 

However, she was also reported to be rather generous with her funds among her friends and employees.

Because of her spending, Monroe was $372,000 in debt at the time of her death.

Related: The Life and Music of Elvis Presley 

How Much Would Marilyn Monroe Be Worth Today?

In today’s terms, Marilyn Monroe’s net worth of $800,000 at the time of her death would translate to nearly $8 million in 2023.

How Old Would Marilyn Monroe Be If She Was Still Alive?

If Marilyn Monroe were still alive in 2023, she would be celebrating her 97th birthday on June 1.  

What Were Marilyn Monroe’s Last Words?

The last known person that ever spoke to Marilyn Monroe was actor Peter Lawford. He and his socialite wife, Pat (Kennedy) Lawford, invited Monroe to dinner the evening of her death. When she didn’t show, Lawford called her.

With slurred speech, Monroe told Lawford, “Say goodbye to Pat. Say goodbye to Jack (referring to President John F. Kennedy whom it was rumored that she’d been having an affair, and to whom she famously sang “Happy Birthday”). And say goodbye to yourself because you’re a nice guy.”

Related: The Tragic Story of John Lennon’s Demise 

How Tall Was Marilyn Monroe?

Marilyn Monroe was of average height, standing at five foot, six inches tall.

marilyn monroe suicide
Lauren Bacall and Marilyn Monroe in How to Marry a Millionaire in 1953. Image by an unknown author on Wikimedia Commons.

Did Marilyn Monroe Get Married at 15?

Marilyn Monroe was 16 when she married policeman James Dougherty. They met when she was 15 and he was 20.

Reportedly, Dougherty married the teenager to keep her from returning to foster care due to her mother’s continued time in and out of psychiatric facilities.

Marilyn Monroe’s Marriages

Marilyn Monroe was married three times. First, to policeman James Dougherty, whom she married at the tender age of 16. The marriage lasted from 1942 to 1946.

Her second marriage was to former Yankee’s baseball star Joe DiMaggio. The marriage only lasted a year (1954-1955). 

Her final marriage was to playwright Arthur Miller from 1956 to 1961.

Marilyn Monroe’s Children

Although none of Monroe’s marriages resulted in her own children, she was stepmother to DiMaggio’s son Joe Jr. and Miller’s children, Jane and Robert Miller.

How Did Marilyn Monroe’s Son Die?

Although Marilyn Monroe had no biological children, it is reported that she suffered three pregnancy losses during her marriage to Arthur Miller.

The first baby, conceived in 1956, was lost due to miscarriage. The second baby, conceived in 1957, was lost to an ectopic pregnancy. 

The third child, conceived in 1958, was also lost because of a miscarriage.

Monroe’s fertility issues were said to be due to her struggle with endometriosis.

Marilyn Monroe’s Funeral

Marilyn Monroe’s funeral was on Aug. 8, 1962. 

The ceremony was kept private and was only attended by her closest family and friends, although hundreds reportedly gathered around the streets of the cemetery.

Related: Britney Spears Biography: Facts About the Most Famous Pop Star in the World 

Marilyn Monroe’s Estate

Several benefactors were named in Marilyn Monroe’s will.

The actress left several thousand dollars to her half-sister Berniece and her secretary May Reis.

She also left money to cover the education of the daughter of her friend Norman Rosten.

A $100,000 trust fund was established to cover the continued care of her mother, Gladys Pearl Baker, and the widow of her former acting teacher Michael Chekhov.

Once the money above was distributed, 25 percent of her estate was given to her former psychiatrist Marianne Kris. The other 75 percent was granted to her acting coach, Lee Strasberg. 

Monroe instructed Strasberg to distribute the funds to her friends, colleagues, and other her other devoted individuals. 

However, those beneficiaries were not paid until 1971 due to legal complications.

After Strasberg’s death in 1982, his estate, including Monroe’s publicity rights, were willed to his widow, Anna. It was she who began licensing Monroe’s image to companies.

marilyn monroe net worth
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell putting handprints in wet concrete at Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, Calif. in 1953. Image by The Los Angeles Times Wikimedia Commons.

Where is Marilyn Monroe Buried?

Marilyn Monroe is buried at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary in Los Angeles. Her body was eventually entombed at Crypt No. 24 at the park’s Corridor of Memories.

Several celebrities are buried in Westwood Village, but it wasn’t chosen for Monroe’s final resting place because of the celebrities. It was chosen because of the connection to Monroe’s childhood. 

Her mother’s friend, Grace Goddard, and Goddard’s aunt, Ana Lower, are buried there. The two women were essential in helping raise Monroe.

Joe DiMaggio, Monroe’s second husband, was in charge of the arrangements, along with her half-sister Berniece Baker Miracle and her business manager Inez Nelson.

Marilyn Monroe’s Legacy

Marilyn Monroe’s death was met with great surprise and sadness among her fans. The story of her apparent suicide made the front page of newspapers in the United States and Europe.  

From the time Monroe came into the spotlight as one of the first playmates, her popularity never waivered among her fans.

According to historian Gail Levin, Monroe was one of the most photographed people of the 20th century.

She has been named the sixth greatest female screen legend in American film history by The American Film Institute, and the Smithsonian Institute included her on its list of the 100 Most Significant Americans of All Time.

She has also been noted by Variety Magazine and VH1 in their top 10 rankings of the greatest popular culture icons of the 20th century.

Even 60 years after her shocking death, she remains an important figure in pop culture for her beauty and glamour. Her face still covers apparel, posters, and other merchandise.

You might also enjoy:

Johnny Cash’s Complete Story of Life and Death

The Best Blues Songs: Where to Start When Discovering the Blues 

The 21 Best 60s Songs of All Time: Music That Defined a Decade 

Written by Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth in 2015. She has worked in journalism since 2015, beginning as production assistant and eventual head staff writer of the Fort Leavenworth Lamp newspaper in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Currently, she is a multimedia journalist with the Diocese of Nashville's Office of Media and Evangelization where she writes, does photography, and edits for several types of content, including the Tennessee Register, Catholic Awakenings, and She has also worked as a freelance journalist with the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas's newspaper, The Leaven, since 2016.
In her spare time, Peterson enjoys reading, spending time with her pup, Sadie Lynn, singing and songwriting.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *





the best russian rappers

The 20 Best Russian Rappers of All Time

the best spanish singers of all time

The 15 Best Spanish Singers: Pop Stars, Opera Legends, and More