She was one of those rare actresses with a sweetness and vulnerability that migrated from the screen to the viewer’s emotions. She had many poignant films behind her, and more than a few in front of her by 2009. But in her last films such as Abandoned, when she played a stressed, betrayed woman caught inside a nightmare of a mystery, she looked just a little too much the part. Thin and unhealthy, fatigued, something vacant and haunting about her eyes.
On December 20, 2009, Brittany suddenly collapsed and died, only 32 years old. It splashed across the news as Hollywood tragedy does, sensational for the moment, but with the ring of inevitability. “One more star who abused self and drugs,” the mind goes, “so, sure, another bites the dust. What else is new?”
Yet Brittany Murphy’s intimates claim she did not abuse drugs, in fact had to be circumspect in her habits due to a heart abnormality. She was married to the screenwriter Simon Monjack, and they were thinking of starting a family.
She died of complications from lingering pneumonia, the doctors say. Probably accurate, but who dies in their youth of pneumonia, in the 21st century, in an upscale mansion in L.A.–a city full of doctors and health programs? Who, besides Brittany? Actually, ten months later, so did the widower Simon Monjack, in the same multi-million dollar home, of the same diagnosis as his late wife.
Nothing about the demise of Brittany and Simon quite makes sense. We’re not alleging, necessarily, foul play. But we’re alleging that all the statistical odds were badly abused by such exceptional events.
Brittany’s sweetness haunts us. So does her death, and that of her husband. We open the file “The Curious Death of Brittany Murphy, and Simon Monjack.”