Brittany Murphy
Brittany Murphy at the ArcLight Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, California (Photo Credit: Jon Kopaloff | FilmMagic via Getty Images)

Brittany Murphy: How Did the Actress Die?

Disclaimer: This article contains mentions of death. Reader discretion is advised.

American actress Brittany Murphy bought a Hollywood Hills home from Britney Spears in 2003. She moved into the fully furnished home and lived there for about six years with her husband, Simon Monjack. Then, one fateful December morning in 2009, Murphy, then 32, collapsed in the main bathroom of the house. Staff at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center pronounced her dead later.

Murphy had been experiencing flu-like symptoms for several days before her death, reported People Magazine. Nearly five months after her death, Monjack also died in the house under similar circumstances. He reportedly died in the same room from a case of pneumonia and anemia. At the time of both deaths, the star’s mother, Sharon Murphy, was living in the house with the couple.

Murphy was popular for her roles in early 2000s romantic comedies and chick flicks such as Clueless (1995) and Just Married (2003). She also starred in 8 Mile (2002) alongside Eminem and in Girl, Interrupted (1999) with Angelina Jolie. The actress also got involved in the music scene with DJ Paul Oakenfold via their single “Faster Kill Pussycat.” The song was an instant club hit and reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart in 2006, per the outlet.

A docuseries on Max titled What Happened, Brittany Murphy? chronicles the later actress’ tragic death. The two-part series premiered in 2021 and delves deep into the mysterious death. It also looks into her troubled relationship with her husband, Simon Monjack.

Brittany Murphy’s cause of death & death conspiracy explained

According to People Magazine, late L.A. County Coroner Assistant Chief Ed Winter revealed Brittany Murphy’s cause of death to be untreated pneumonia. The condition becomes dangerous once combined with anemia and drug intoxication from prescription and over-the-counter medications. These included painkillers and cold medicine. There were no illegal drugs in her system at the time of death.

Murphy, 32, died at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on December 20, 2009. Her mother, Sharon, who lived with the couple in their Hollywood Hills home, called 911 that morning after the actress collapsed in the bathroom. The medical staff pronounced her death a couple of hours later.

Ed Winter and medical examiner Lisa Scheinin, per The New York Post, claimed that Murphy could have lived had she visited a doctor sooner. They believed that the actress could have survived if she received the required medical assistance in the days leading up to her death. 

Winter said, “She [Brittany Murphy] was really sick with pneumonia, very anemic, and she was taking medication and all that combined killed her.” He further stated, “The cause of death is not a mystery. The mystery is, why didn’t somebody catch it? Had they taken her to the doctor a few days before, she would still be alive.”

People Magazine reported that five months after Brittany Murphy’s death, her husband, Simon Monjack, 40, also died under similar circumstances. It was a case of pneumonia and anemia and possibly drugs, per The Post. Winter said, “On Simon’s side of the nightstand, we found approximately 90 prescription bottles, with several different names, which is highly unusual. We also found prescription bottles in Brittany’s name and ‘Lola Manilow,’ [which was] possibly an alias.”

Initially, there has been speculation that the mold in the home may have caused Murphy’s and Monjack’s deaths. The medical examiner’s office later dismissed the theory. However, Monjack’s mother, Linda, told Daily Mail in 2013 that her son had found “severe mold” in the house before his death. Linda said, “All I know is that before Simon’s death he was having hallucinations that things were crawling out of his skin.”

Elsewhere, Murphy’s estranged father, Angelo Bertolotti, believed that she was poisoned. The later actress’ mother, Sharon, had also blamed the couple’s death on mold in their mansion. However, medical examiner Lisa Scheinin said she found no evidence of such a case.

Several conspiracy theories have surfaced surrounding Brittany Murphy’s cause of death over the years. But medical examiners had claimed that the actress could have lived if she saw a doctor in the days leading up to her death.

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