Brittany Murphy’s Cause of Death: How Did the Actress Die?

Brittany Murphy Cause of Death

Getty Brittany Murphy/Brittany Murphy and her husband, Simon Monjack.

Brittany Murphy was only 32 years old and rising in her acting career when when she died. Mystery surrounds the starlet’s death more than a decade later. But how did Brittany Murphy really die?

A Los Angeles County Coroner officially ruled Murphy’s death as accidental due to pneumonia, with additional factors including anemia and prescription medication use. But the ruling has been questioned, and her husband, Simon Monjack, also died of the same cause five months later. Read more about her husband’s death here.

The actress’ controversial death is being examined on Investigation Discovery’s Nine at 9, Tuesday, May 26, 2020.

Here’s what you need to know:


The LA Coroner’s Autopsy Report Said Brittany Murphy Was Weakened Due to Her Menstrual Period & Anemia

The Los Angeles County Coroner determined that Brittany Murphy died from pneumonia, with several factors weighing in to make her more vulnerable to infection, according to the full autopsy report summarized by the Associated Press. The full autopsy report was released in February, 2010, two months after her death on December 20, 2010 at age 32.

See Brittany Murphy’s death certificate here.

Murphy collapsed in her home in Hollywood Hills, and died soon after. The coroner ruled her cause of death as accidental, but said it was likely preventable. She had pneumonia, and she was using drugs to treat it, including hydrocodone and acetaminophen, which are found in Vicodin. Murphy had anemia, and the coroner said this caused her menstrual period to leave her in a weakened state. This, combined with the drugs, made her susceptible to the infection, the coroner determined. Murphy was also taking anti-seizure medications, which she started taking after a health episode while filming “Eight Mile.”

Murphy also had diabetes, and had gone to the hospital for treatment in Oregon in April 2009, about eight months before her death, the report said. For about seven to 10 days leading up to her death, Murphy was complaining of severe abdominal pain. Her family told investigators they thought this was due to her period, which often gave her severe pain.

There was no evidence that Murphy abused drugs. She lived with her husband, Simon Monjack, and her mother, Sharon.

“The report notes that the medications found in Murphy’s system were consistent with treatment of a cold or respiratory infection,” the Associated Press reported. “Murphy’s mother and husband had reported the actress was ill with flu-like symptoms in the days before her death.”

At about 3 a.m. on the day of her death, the power went out in their home and Murphy went onto the balcony. She was gasping for breath. At about 7:30 a.m., she said Mommy, I really don’t feel well. She told her mother, “Mom, I’m dying. I love you,” according to E News. Murphy collapsed at about 8 a.m., and she could not be revived.


Questions Surfaced Over Possible Toxic Mold in Brittany Murphy’s Home or Poisoning

Simon Monjack died just months after his wife, and his cause of death was also caused by pneumonia, according to a Los Angeles County Coroner’s report. Brittany Murphy, Simon Monjack and Brittany’s mother, Sharon Murphy, lived in Hollywood Hills in Brittney Spears’ former home. In December 2011, Sharon Murphy filed a malpractice lawsuit, alleging the home builders were dishonest about possible defects in the house. Months before Brittany Murphy’s death, the house was inspected and deemed habitable, according to E News.

The results of an environmental review were never made public. Sharon Murphy dropped the lawsuit in 2013.

The coroner told CNN there was no indication that mold caused Murphy’s pneumonia or death.

Brittany Murphy’s estranged father, Angelo Bertolli, also filed a lawsuit in his daughter’s death. He sued the Los Angeles County Department of the Coroner, claiming they did not thoroughly investigate Murphy’s death and requested hairs for toxin sampling. The lawsuit was dismissed. The lab results found possible toxins in Murphy’s hair in 2013, but an expert told CNN those findings were “ridiculous” and likely attributed to hair products.

Sharon Murphy wrote a letter to The Hollywood Reporter in 2013, saying she did not believe Bertolli’s poison theory, and did not appreciate his continued pursuit of the theory.

“”We will never know for sure,” she wrote. “However, we do know the Los Angeles County Coroner did extensive tests and found that she died of natural causes. And now she is a real living angel in heaven.”


Brittany Murphy’s Headstone Calls Her An ‘Angel to All’

Brittany Murphy was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, according to Find a Grave. She was born November 10, 1977 in Atlanta, Georgia and died December 20, 2009 in Los Angeles.

Her headstone, which lists her name as Brittany Murphy Monjack, calls her “Our precious daughter, wife and angel to all.” Her husband, Simon Monjack, was buried beside her when he died of the same cause five months later. Read more about his death here.

Her Find a Grave memorial says:

Actress. She landed her first job in Hollywood when she was 14, starring as Brenda Drexell in the series Drexell’s Class. She then went on to play Molly Morgan in the short-lived The Torkelsons spinoff Almost Home. Murphy has also guest starred on several television series including Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, Blossom, and Frasier. She also had recurring roles on Sister, Sister, Party of Five, and Boy Meets World. In 1997, she began voicing the character of Luanne Platter (as well as the younger version of Joseph Gribble) on the long-running animated series King of the Hill. She went on to star in many successful films, including Clueless (1995), Girl, Interrupted (1999), Don’t Say a Word (2001), the TV adaption of the novel The Devil’s Arithmetic (2001), 8 Mile (2002) and Uptown Girls (2003) as well as many lesser-known films, such as Spun (2003). In 2004, she starred in the romantic comedy Little Black Book, and the critically acclaimed Sin City (2005). In 2009, she was cast in the Lifetime TV movie, Tribute, as the main character, Cilla.

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