It was in the early hours of Sunday morning, 48 years ago today, when Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her Los Angeles home, with an empty bottle of sleeping tablets by her side.
Hollywood’s sex kitten, a material girl or simply an innocent woman raped of her self-esteem, Monroe’s shocking death still remains one of tinsel town’s most debated mysteries.
The actress’s sudden demise was listed as a “probable suicide” at the time, but over the years, documents indicating a shoddy investigation and overlooked evidence have given more fuel to conspiracy theories that point at murder.
Possible suspects included high profile politicians such as the Kennedy brothers who were rumoured to have had affairs with the starlet.
One popular story indicated that after President John F Kennedy had a brief fling with Monroe, he had passed her on to brother Robert ‘Bobby’ Kennedy who in turn used her and dumped her.
When Monroe threatened to go public with her affairs and other government secrets, the brothers decided to snuff her.
Of course, nothing has ever been proven, but it is interesting to note that on August 4, Bobby, then United States Attorney General, was in fact in Los Angeles.
Also, nearly 20 years after Monroe’s demise, her housekeeper Eunice Murray, who was one of the first few who discovered the body, revealed that Bobby had visited the 36-year-old actress on the night of her death and they had quarrelled.
Murray’s story was never taken seriously but it didn’t change the fact that Monroe’s untimely death was a big blow to her fans, for whom she was a cultural icon.
Born Norma Jeane Mortenson, the three-time married actress is best known for her films, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" (1953), "How to Marry a Millionaire" (1953), and "There’s No Business Like Show Business" (1954).
But it was "The Seven-Year Itch" (1955) that catapulted her to cult status with that classic scene where she stood over a subway grating that saw her white skirt billow up by the wind from a passing train.
Soon after though, depression reared its ugly head and Monroe’s career spiraled out of control and so did her personal life. After several abortive suicide attempts, the cocktail of prescription drugs in her bloodstream on August 5 indicated her final fall from grace.
But even now, nearly five decades later, the allure of Monroe still doesn’t fail to entice a new generation of fans every time the sultry siren strikes a pose on
Gone but not forgotten
Elvis Presley: On August 16, 1977 the King of Rock‘n’roll was found dead in the bathroom of his Graceland home. The cause of death has been long disputed – a drug overdose, an allergic reaction to codeine, or a heart attack.
More interesting than the cause of death, however, were the conspiracy theories that claimed Presley faked his own death.
There have been numerous sightings of the King post death.
Among the details of his posthumous life was a broken leg in a motorcycle accident.
According to this version, his “real” death came in the mid-1990s.
Jim Morrison: A man of many talents, the singer, poet, writer, filmmaker died at the age of 27 in his bathtub at his apartment in Paris on July 3. An autopsy was no performed at the time, with the coroner stating at the time there was no evidence of foul play and Morrison had died of a drug overdose.
But the lack of an official autopsy has left many conspiracy buffs convinced there was more to his death than ever declared.
Jimi Hendrix: It was September 17, 1970 when the American singer, songwriter and guitarist was picked up from a party by his girlfriend Monika Dannemann in London. A few hours after midnight, Hendrix was dead in Dannemann's apartment.
According to the original report, it was determined that Hendrix had asphyxiated in his own vomit after taking an overdose of his girlfriend’s prescription drugs.The reports mention he was found dead the next morning, but Dannemann changed stories years later, saying Hendrix was in fact alive at 9am and it was she who rushed him to hospital.
In May 2009, former Animals roadie, James “Tappy” Wright, published a book claiming Hendrix’s manager, Mike Jeffery, admitted to him that he had Hendrix killed because the rock star wanted to end his management contract. Naturally, Jeffery cried foul.
Divya Bharti: A rising star in Bollywood, the 19-year-old vivacious actress plunged to her death from her apartment on the fifth floor on April 5, 1993.
Stories about an alleged suicide soon emerged, with close friends revealing Bharti had been depressed with her secret marriage with film producer Sajid Nadiadwala.
Other theories included a drunken accident and possibly murder. But nothing has ever been proven.
Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls: The two rap moguls were slain by drive-by gunfire less than six months apart – Shakur in September 1996 in Las Vegas; Smalls in March 1997 in Los Angeles.
Conspiracy theories about who was behind the respective murders outnumber the police-identified suspects. No arrests have yet been made in connection with either shooting. However, the most popular theory is that Smalls’ men gunned down Shakur and the latter’s men retaliated in kind.