Ever since that day, August 5, 1962, speculation has raged over whether or not Marilyn Monroe committed suicide, accidentally overdosed, or was murdered. Such prolonged speculation merely demonstrates how few people bother to analyse events for themselves, and how many people are only too willing to accept whatever official explanation gets served up to them. There is no mystery. There should never have been a mystery. Marilyn Monroe was murdered, plain and simple. No ‘ifs’, no ‘buts’, no ‘maybes’. If Police Chief William Parker had done his job properly, instead of refusing to assign a detective team to investigate her death, there would probably be no mystery to discuss. However, Parker was an ardent admirer of the Attorney-General and his stance against organized crime, plus both men were strong Catholics and Parker admired RFK as a role model (would you believe?) for the faith. So, Parker covered for him. When columnist May Mann wrote of the chief’s inept handling of the so-called investigation, she received a direct call from Parker himself. ‘He said it would be bad for my health if I kept writing stories like that.’ For the sake of argument, however, let’s quickly examine the three possible scenarios – accidental death, suicide (the official verdict) and murder.
First, the accidental overdose theory. Proponents of this cause of death argue that she ‘lost track of’ how many Nembutal and chloral hydrate capsules she took that day until there were enough in her system (over 50 they say) to take her out. How does anyone, least of all someone who has been popping a couple of these pills every day for a decade or more, miscount by that ridiculous amount? On top of that, coroner Thomas Noguchi reported that there was no evidence of any Nembutal, chloral hydrate, or casing residue in the dead woman’s stomach or kidneys. None. Neither had she been drinking, so any argument that she downed 50 tablets while in a drunken stupor is completely erroneous. Therefore, since she did not administer the drugs orally to herself, accidental overdose becomes an impossibility and we must look for another solution.
Option two, the one officially trotted out as the cause of death, is suicide. The problem with this alternative is that the lack of residue in Marilyn’s stomach kind of makes it impossible for her to have taken her own life, unless she administered a lethal enema to herself. But why would a woman bent on suicide do that, rather than swallow a few handfuls of pills? Women are known to prefer a more dignified exit than that. Very few suicide naked either, for the same reason. Noguchi’s report never mentions any evidence of an enema, simply because he never thought of looking for any. As we will see later, one was administered – just not by Marilyn.
Assistant District attorney Thomas Miner publicly stated that both accidental overdose and suicide were completely out of the equation. Anyone swallowing so many Nembutal capsules would have died long before they had all been absorbed, so the stomach would have contained residue and capsule casings. Noguchi’s report clearly indicated that she could not have swallowed them. Furthermore, he had forwarded specimens of Marilyn’s tummy contents to the lab for analysis. On the Sunday immediately after her death somebody flushed the lot down a toilet before they could be examined.
Motive is always a key factor in any suicide or murder. If the argument on how it happened is weak, then it becomes necessary to focus more on why it happened. According to the official story, Marilyn was desperately upset over losing her job on Something’s Got to Give, her personal life was a complete shambles, and she was taking a stack of pills because she was regularly depressed, even suicidal. She just could not go on any longer. All of these factors were trotted out as if on an assembly line, all aimed at supporting the scenario settled on by the perpetrators and their cohorts. But, according to just about everyone she knew, Marilyn was in fine spirits and eagerly looking forward to the next week. She would never see it.
So, what did she have to be happy about? First up, she had just been given her job back on Something’s Gotta Give, and was looking forward to shooting scenes on Monday morning with her co-star Dean Martin, a guy she enjoyed working with and liked a lot. In fact, his refusal to accept a replacement for Marilyn in the role had a lot to do with her being re-instated. She was also extremely enthusiastic about soon going to Europe to star alongside Brigitte Bardot in a couple of musicals. She had only just bought her Brentwood home and had enthusiastic plans to stock it with Mexican furniture as soon as she could. She arranged dinner engagements for the next week. And finally, but importantly, she and former husband Joe DiMaggio, had decided to marry again, even setting a date in August. If Marilyn ever found anyone in her life who truly cared about her, that person was Joe DiMaggio.
The only flies in the ointment (and they were pretty big flies) were the Kennedy brothers, Bobby and Jack. Her affair with the President was long over and she was determined to end the one with Bobby as soon as possible. But he simply would not take her calls. Although he had often promised Marilyn, particularly in the throes of passion, that he would one day ditch Ethel and marry her, randy Bobby had absolutely no intention of doing either. Determined to start afresh with Joe, she had called JFK several times to ask him to tell Bobby it was over, but the President, too, had left strict instructions that her calls were not to be accepted.
She told friends she was tired of being treated ‘like a piece of meat’ by the brothers. In reality, of course, she was treated that way by nearly all her lovers, but there was something about the Kennedy arrogance that bugged her. Angered by their attitude, she told actor Peter Lawford (their brother-in-law, pictured below), that she needed to tell Bobby to his face or, come Monday, she would talk to the Enquirer instead. At around 2pm on Saturday August 4, Bobby and one of his bodyguards arrived at her home. Four women playing bridge in the house next door clearly saw and identified the Attorney-General. After all, they said later, he had visited her a dozen times before. It was ‘definitely’ him, no question about it.
Since 1962 there have been signed declarations, affidavits, polygraph tests, interviews and audiotapes, all testifying to the undeniable fact that Robert Kennedy made two visits to Marilyn’s home that day, the first at 2pm, the last at around 9.30 – 10pm. Until the day he died, however, he stuck by the alibi provided for him by a politician friend that he spent the entire weekend at the man’s ranch outside San Francisco and could, therefore, not possibly have been anywhere near Los Angeles. This was in direct contradiction to LAPD personnel who knew he was in town on Saturday. They always knew when the nation’s Attorney-General was around. It was their job to know. Anyway, others had seen him (and spoken to him) on the 20th Century Fox lot that day as well when his helicopter landed at Stage 18. Lawford’s mother, Lady May, stated categorically that his helicopter was later parked on the beach at the back of the Lawford home in Santa Monica that day.
Marilyn Monroe’s homes (even her recently purchased one) were bugged by a whole array of people. The FBI bugged her to find out about her Mafia connections and to get dirt on the Kennedys. Hoover detested them and the feeling was mutual. He also knew they were getting ready to fire him as Director of the FBI. The Mafia had her bugged to find out what the FBI knew. Jimmy Hoffa was bugging her to get dirt on Bobby Kennedy who was making life hell for him. And even 20th Century Fox had planted bugs in her home, although no-one seems to really know why. There was also a former detective named Fred Otash who was paid by Peter Lawford to bug her bedroom, just so sleazy Pete could later listen to the tapes of his ‘good friend’ Marilyn getting it on with her boyfriends.
He would also regularly inform Otash of the President’s intended sex sessions with celebrity women. Lawford always knew where, when and who, because he was the President’s pimp and arranged all his trysts. Fred would then nip over and bug the bed wherever it happened to be. Lawford would collect the audiotape later and add it to his collection. Apparently, it was quite extensive. When Jayne Mansfield was servicing both JFK and RFK (Jayne got around a bit too), he even played the tapes back for her at her home ‘The Pink Palace’. It would be the Otash tape of Marilyn’s last hours that Jayne’s secretary, Raymond Strait, would listen to and discuss on Joan Rivers’ Fox talk show in 1993.
The ambulance guys (medic James Edwin Hall and driver Murray Liebowitz) who responded to the emergency call from Marilyn’s housekeeper Eunice Murray at around 10.30 pm on the 4th, found the actress lying on her back in the guest cottage and still alive when they began working on her. They inserted a tube in her throat, administered oxygen, and her breathing and colour improved noticeably. Hall, (who later easily passed several polygraph tests from the world’s leading expert), said he was absolutely certain they could have saved her.
It was then, however, that Marilyn’s psychiatrist Doctor Ralph Greenson (above) suddenly appeared, having been summoned by Eunice Murray. He ordered the tube and oxygen removed so he could administer a shot to her heart. Hall assumed at the time that he intended giving her the customary adrenaline shot. He was, nevertheless, staggered to see Greenson produce a syringe, (with a needle already attached) from his black bag, and promptly inject some brown liquid directly into Marilyn’s heart. Hall knew that an adrenaline shot was clear white in colour, but this liquid was brown and looked for all the world like Nembutal. Within a minute Greenson declared her dead and ordered Hall and Liebowitz to leave.
As they departed, still shocked at what they had witnessed, a mortuary van turned up. Marilyn had only been pronounced dead a minute or so earlier. Just what a psychiatrist would be doing with a fully loaded syringe in his bag at that time of night (or any time for that matter) can only be explained in one way. It must have been planned ahead of time. There were five witnesses to all this: Hall, Liebowitz, Peter Lawford, Pat Newcomb (Marilyn’s publicist and best friend), and Sgt. Marvin Iannone, a close associate of the Attorney-General who had been sent by him to accompany Lawford. Newcomb and Iannone were both strong Kennedy supporters and would always refuse to discuss those moments. In fact, Newcomb forever said she was not even present. But she most certainly was. Later, the Kennedys gave her a Washington job, then sent her off to Europe and away from the press.
On Saturday 5 August, the media was informed that Marilyn had been found in her main bedroom, lying on her stomach, the phone off the hook, and the room strewn with hundreds of pills. Both Hall and Liebowitz, knew this to be blatantly untrue. They had found her in the guest cottage and on her back, the phone still on the hook, and her pill bottles all unopened, and neatly arranged on her dresser. Somebody had arranged an entirely different death scene, one that fit the suicide story perfectly. The door to her room was even locked from the inside (they said), although those who knew the place vowed that none of the interior doors would ever lock. None of them. It was 20 years before Hall came forward to talk about what he saw that night. Liebowitz never did. It was simply too dangerous a subject, he said. Besides, he suddenly came into a lot of money, enough to purchase a neighbourhood car wash.
The Otash tape ran for 11 hours and covered both arrivals by Bobby Kennedy. At 2pm he and Marilyn had an enormous row over her little red diary. He wanted it and she would not disclose its whereabouts. ‘It’s important to my family’, he screamed. ‘I must have it!’ When she became hysterical and came at him with a small kitchen knife, he and Lawford subdued her before his bodyguard administered an injection in her armpit ‘to calm her down’. Kennedy’s ‘bodyguards’, Archie Close and James Ahern, were members of LAPD’s notorious ‘Gangster Squad’, a group of officers that performed illegal activities for the department strictly off the record. In effect, they were thugs. The four men left soon afterwards, but they would be back.
Marilyn’s threat to go straight to the Enquirer on Monday scared Bobby into taking matters into his own hands, knowing full well that his (and his brother’s) careers would almost certainly not survive her spilling the beans on them. He only went to her home (the first time) that Saturday to retrieve her ‘tell-all’ red diary. Unable to find it, and mortified by her hysteria, he decided there was only one way to ensure her silence. At about 9.30 pm he, Lawford, Close and Ahern returned. Bobby ordered Murray and her son-in-law Norman Jeffries, to leave the premises at once. They did as they were told. After all, this was the Attorney-General of the United States doing the ordering. They went next door.
While Bobby held a pillow over Marilyn’s face to stifle her screams, his goons stripped her, then inserted an enema containing 13-19 broken-down Nembutal capsules and 17 chloral hydrates into her rectum, rendering her unconscious almost immediately. Further injections behind her knees made sure of the ultimate, fatal outcome. They again searched unsuccessfully for the diary, then left. A short time later Murray and Jeffries returned, found Marilyn barely alive, and called for an ambulance, the one manned by Hall and Liebowitz.
This call for help was unforeseen by Kennedy. When he learned that Marilyn was still alive (Murray had called Greenson and told him so), the plan had to be altered. They could no longer just leave her to die from the injections and enema during the night. Meanwhile, Murray had found and then secreted the little red diary (plus Marilyn’s address book). On the following Monday morning she handed them to a driver from the coroner’s office. Within 24 hours both had vanished.
Murray never did explain why she chose to call Marilyn’s psychiatrist rather than her regular MD Dr Hymen Engelberg (he would arrive later in response to a call from Greenson). Perhaps, she knew what most people did not know, that the good doctor Greenson was also sleeping with Marilyn, usually at her home, and all of it recorded on Mafia-Teamster tapes that Otash and others had heard. Lawford would later disclose that Bobby told Greenson that night to ‘silence Marilyn’ because she intended exposing all her lovers’ names – including his. This was utterly untrue. She liked her psychiatrist and his family and had no intention of hurting any of them. Her gripe was with the Kennedys, no-one else. The doctor believed the senator, however, and her fate was sealed.
At 12.10am on the 5th August, Detective Lynn Franklin pulled over a Lincoln Continental in Los Angeles. It was traveling at 75 mph with its headlights off. At the wheel, according to Franklin’s notes, was a very ‘drunk, terrified’ Peter Lawford. In the vehicle were Dr Ralph Greenson and the Attorney-General. Lawford explained that they had to be at the airport in a few minutes so RFK could catch an important flight out of LA. Franklin, not wishing to apprehend the Attorney-General of the United States, sent them on their way. The significance of this incident is that a decorated police-officer, less than one hour after Marilyn’s death, had seen and spoken with Bobby Kennedy who was not only in the vicinity, but in the company of the man who would later be accused of killing her. Quite a coincidence if he had nothing to do with it.
The Otash tape of Marilyn’s last eleven hours has been listened to by many people down the decades. It probably still exists somewhere. It was Otash who Lawford called to the death scene to remove all the ‘bugs’ from the bungalow before the LAPD arrived that morning. After that night Fred became extremely agitated, aware that his tapes incriminated the Attorney-General, a man whose political plans were not to be interfered with under any circumstances. As a form of self-preservation he then prepared a sanitized transcript from the tape that appeared to support the suicide story. He need not have worried. There was an abundance of tapes (other than his) clearly incriminating RFK.
Known as a man who could get things done, it was Otash that Lana Turner called the night her boyfriend, gangster Johnny Stompanato, wound up on her bedroom floor with a knife sticking out of his chest. Ever reliable Fred ‘arranged’ things at that murder scene as well. But that’s another story. One thing is certain, he knew where a lot of Hollywood skeletons were buried. The one-time private eye for Confidential magazine died in 1992 aged 70, and a great many answers to more than one scandal died with him. Dr Greenson would die in 1979. Hoover would blackmail the Kennedys into giving him the Directorship ‘for life’. Years later, Hoover’s teenage neighbour, Anthony Calomaris, came forward and said that Hoover had told him Marilyn was murdered, but arresting Bobby would serve him no purpose. By blackmailing the Attorney-General instead, his job as head of the FBI would be secured.
Joe DiMaggio blamed the Kennedys for Marilyn’s death until the day he died. He left instructions with the funeral director: ‘Be sure that none of those damn Kennedys come to the funeral’. He need not have bothered. Jack and Bobby Kennedy had never even heard of Marilyn Monroe. Lawford, her good ‘friend’ (or so she thought), and his wife Pat (Kennedy) were also barred, turned away at the gate, in fact. This was particularly hard on Pat Lawford because she and Marilyn had been genuine friends for some time. ‘If it hadn’t been for her so-called friends’, DiMaggio said, ‘Marilyn would still be alive today. Lawford would continue to avoid LAPD interview requests for the next thirteen years, which poses the question: Why would he do that if her death was just an alleged suicide? Years later, his third wife, Deborah Gould, asked him (while he was drunk), what had happened to Marilyn. ‘Marilyn took her last big enema’, he replied, and said nothing more on the subject.
A lot of people breathed a sigh of relief with Marilyn’s death. The Kennedys avoided a scandal that would have ended their political careers. The CIA continued to keep secrets that her intended ‘tell-all’ press conference (not to mention her little red diary) may well have revealed. Hoover’s tapes revealing RFK’s presence at the scene had given him more than enough dirt on the Attorney-General to ensure he stayed head of the bureau forever. Pundits were incredulous just three days later on August 7, when Bobby publicly stated that he hoped J Edgar Hoover would remain ‘serving the nation for many years to come’. For some reason he no longer detested the nation’s top G-man. He even admired him. Greenson had also extricated himself from the tight, career-threatening mess his libido had placed him in, and the Mafia probably figured that the resultant police investigation would fix their nemesis Bobby for good. They alone would taste disappointment. The Kennedy machine covered the brothers’ tracks and convinced the world that poor, unsuspecting Marilyn had topped herself.
Marilyn Monroe was promiscuous as all get out. Her preferred way of saying ‘thank you’ to anyone who showed her genuine kindness was to have sex with them. The act itself meant little to her anyway, so why not, if it makes them happy? She used men to get to the top of her profession, but could not handle the fact that powerful men also used her. Several of her friends warned her to tread warily around Bobby Kennedy in particular, but she took no notice and paid the ultimate penalty. Six years later so did he. What goes around comes around they say.