Born: June 1, 1926
Murdered: August 5, 1962
New Chapter In The Mystery Of Marilyn:
Her Own Words?
by Robert W. Welkos, August 5, 2005
It remains one of Hollywood's most compelling, and unforgettable, mysteries.
On August 5, 1962, the body of Marilyn Monroe was found in the bedroom of her Brentwood home. The 36-year-old movie star was naked and facedown on her bed.
An autopsy conducted by Dr. Thomas Noguchi, then deputy medical examiner, concluded that death was due to acute barbiturate poisoning, and a psychiatric team tied to the investigation termed it a "probable suicide."
Today, 43 years later, fans from around the world will gather, as they have for decades, near Monroe's crypt at Westwood Village Memorial Park to celebrate her life and mourn her death. John W. Miner, 86, will mourn too.
But there is bitterness and frustration as well for the former Los Angeles County prosecutor, who was at her autopsy and was one of those looking into her death. He didn't believe that the actress took her life in '62 and he doesn't believe it now, and Miner says he's heard secret tapes that Monroe made in the days before she died that prove the actress was anything but suicidal.
Whether Monroe died by her own hand has been debated and dissected by books, documentaries, conspiracy theorists, and Hollywood and Washington insiders alike for years.
Enough credence was given to the various reports that in 1982, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office reexamined the case. Miner, by then in private practice, was among those interviewed.
The resulting report notes that Miner mentioned the tapes. However, he did not say he had a transcript. Although the report concedes that "factual discrepancies" and "unanswered questions" remained in the case, it did not find enough evidence to warrant launching a criminal investigation.
As head of the D.A.'s medical-legal section when Monroe died, Miner had met with the actress' psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson. During the interview, Miner says, Greenson played the Monroe tapes, but only on condition that the investigator never reveal their contents.
Miner said he took "extensive" and "nearly verbatim" notes, and only broke the promise years after Greenson's death, when some Monroe biographers suggested that the psychiatrist be considered a suspect in her death. Miner recently gave a copy of the transcript to The Times.
Miner's transcript shows Monroe obsessing about the Oscars, describing a sexual encounter with Joan Crawford, craving a father's love from Clark Gable, yearning to be taken seriously as an actress by contemplating doing Shakespeare, and speaking candidly about why her marriages to baseball slugger Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller ended in divorce.
At one point, she describes standing naked in front of her full-length mirror assessing the body that captivated the world, knowing that she is slipping into middle age, and commenting that "my breasts are beginning to sag a bit" but "my waist isn't bad" and her buttocks are still "the best."
"You are the only person who will ever know the most private, the most secret thoughts of Marilyn Monroe," she tells Greenson, according to Miner's transcript. "I have absolute confidence and trust you will never reveal to a living soul what I say to you."
Miner contends that anyone reading the transcript would conclude that "there was no possible way this woman could have killed herself. She had very specific plans for her future. She knew exactly what she wanted to do. She was told by [acting coach] Lee Strasberg, maybe ill-advisedly, that she had Shakespeare in her and she was fascinated with the idea."
Miner has shown the transcript to several authors in recent years. In British author Matthew Smith's book "Marilyn's Last Words: Her Secret Tapes and Mysterious Death," the excerpts cover the early portion of the tapes, which have Monroe musing on Freud and free association, orgasms, Gable and her agent, Johnny Hyde. Seymour M. Hersh included a short reference to the late President Kennedy in "The Dark Side of Camelot."
Miner was also interviewed for a 1997 ABC documentary called "Dangerous World: The Kennedy Years," but ultimately no excerpts from the transcript were used.
The previously unpublished portions of the transcript include descriptions of her feelings for her ex-husbands, a dissection of why her marriages failed, a racy catalog of supposed sexual encounters, details of her dispute with 20th Century Fox, her friendship with Frank Sinatra, and her complaints about housekeeper Eunice Murray, who would discover her body.
Smith and Hersh, along with the documentary's producer, Mark Obenhaus, said in interviews this week that they found Miner credible.
But to accept Miner's story, one must make a leap of faith - he is the only one still alive who claims to have heard the tapes. Greenson died in 1979, and Miner believes that he destroyed the tapes.
"It's like a one-sourced story," Obenhaus said. "You have one guy; he's a credible guy, but he's just one guy."
Smith, who said he paid Miner a fee, which he declined to disclose, for use of the Monroe transcript, added: "I believe he is a man of integrity. I've looked at the contents of the tapes, of course, and, frankly, I would think it entirely impossible for John Miner to have invented what he put forward - absolutely impossible."
Ronald H. "Mike" Carroll, a former L.A. County deputy district attorney who conducted the 1982 review of Monroe's death, said he and a D.A.'s investigator interviewed Miner for their report and, although he mentioned that Greenson had tapes of the actress, there was no hint that Miner had a transcript.
Carroll, the No. 3 prosecutor in the D.A.'s office at the time, who has since retired, said that had he any inkling that Miner was harboring the transcript, he would have obtained a grand jury subpoena to force Miner to hand them over so that he could include them in his report.
Miner said he couldn't speak about the transcript then because of his promise to Greenson. "Greenson … was absolutely committed to protecting the privacy of his patients," Miner recalled. "He felt he could not let me see what she had said if there was any possibility that her privacy would be violated." So Miner gave his word.
When some suggested that Greenson himself was the actress' killer, Miner went to the psychiatrist's widow and asked for permission to be released from the promise.
Greenson's widow, Hildegard, told The Times this week that she didn't know if the tapes existed and never heard her husband discuss them. Still, she does not discount that Monroe may have given her husband such tapes and that he played them for Miner.
"That seems like something my husband would do," she said. "He might want to play it to show how she felt and what was going on with her." At the time of the recordings, Monroe was living an unsettled life. There was the rumor of a romance with Kennedy, fueled by her appearance at a birthday tribute on May 19 at Madison Square Garden where she sang the now legendary "Happy Birthday, Mr. President." Studio bosses at 20th Century Fox had dropped her from the film "Something's Got to Give" because of chronic lateness and drug dependency.
No one has established the exact date that the recordings were made, although the JFK reference would put it after her singing tribute, a little more than two months before she died.
Smith says his research suggests that Monroe gave the psychiatrist the tapes Aug. 4. According to Miner, Greenson's sole purpose in playing the tapes for him was to help establish her state of mind at the time of her death, "so they were made pretty close to the time she died."
Hollywood columnist James Bacon, now 91, who met Monroe when she was an unknown in 1949 and would later become a close friend, was at Monroe's house five days before she died.
"She was drinking champagne and straight vodka and occasionally popping a pill," Bacon told The Times. "I said, 'Marilyn, the combination of pills and alcohol will kill you.' And she said, 'It hasn't killed me yet.' Then she took another drink and popped another pill. I know at night she took barbiturates."
But Bacon added: "She wasn't the least bit depressed. She was talking about going to Mexico. She had a Mexican boyfriend at the time. I forget his name. This was the first house she ever owned. She was going to buy some furniture. She was in very good spirits that day - of course, the champagne and vodka helped."
In the transcript, Monroe uses what therapists call "free association," saying whatever came into her mind. "Isn't it true that the key to analysis is free association?" she says. "Marilyn Monroe associates. You, my doctor, by understanding and interpretation of what goes on in my mind, get to my unconscious, which makes it possible for you to treat my neuroses and for me to overcome them."
"And you are going to hear bad language," she warns Greenson.
Although Monroe often came across on screen as a ditzy blond, in her tapes, she discusses Freud's "Introductory Lectures" ("God, what a genius," she remarks. "He makes it so understandable"), and author James Joyce ("Joyce is an artist who could penetrate the souls of people, male or female"), and says she has read all of Shakespeare.
She talks about her admiration for Gable, her co-star in "The Misfits": "In the kissing scenes, I kissed him with real affection. I didn't want to go to bed with him, but I wanted him to know how much I liked and appreciated him."
And she lambasted members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for not giving Gable an Oscar for "Gone With the Wind," noting that never was an actor on screen more romantic. She says she cried for two days after learning that Gable had died.
Her love for DiMaggio was undimmed. "I love him and always will," she says. "But Joe couldn't stay married to Marilyn Monroe, the famous movie star. Joe has an image in his stubborn Italian head of a traditional Italian wife. She would have to be faithful, do what he tells her, devote all of herself to him. Doctor, you know that's not me."
It was different with Miller. "Marrying him was my mistake, not his. He couldn't give me the attention, warmth and affection I need. It's not in his nature. Arthur never credited me with much intelligence. He couldn't share his intellectual life with me. As bed partners, we were so-so."
Of her one-night affair with Joan Crawford, she said: "Next time I saw Crawford, she wanted another round. I told her straight-out I didn't much enjoy doing it with a woman. After I turned her down, she became spiteful."
In the tapes, Monroe heaps praise on Kennedy, and there is no suggestion that the two were ever lovers. "This man is going to change our country," she says of JFK, adding, "He will transform America today like FDR did in the '30s."
As for the president's brother, Robert F. Kennedy, the U.S. attorney general at the time: "As you see, there is no room in my life for him. I guess I don't have the courage to face up to it and hurt him. I want someone else to tell him it's over. I tried to get the president to do it, but I couldn't reach him."
In the transcripts, Monroe says she needs Greenson's help in getting her housekeeper another job. "Doctor, I want you to help me get rid of Murray…. I can't flat out fire her. Next thing would be a book 'Secrets of Marilyn Monroe by Her Housekeeper.' She'd make a fortune spilling what she knows and she knows too damn much."
As he listened to Monroe's voice that day in 1962, Miner said, he became "very moved."
"You'd have to be without capacity for empathy or emotion" if you weren't moved, he said.
Miner, who collaborated with Dr. Seymour Pollack to create the USC Institute of Psychiatry, Law and Behavioral Science in 1963 and taught there over the years, said he would like to see a "re-autopsy" conducted to clear up medical questions that he noticed in the original.
"The autopsy clearly shows that the barbiturates - of a massive amount - that entered her body came in through the large intestine," he said. "How do we know that? We know that because there is no indication, in fact there is contraindication, that the capsules were swallowed."
He believes that had Monroe swallowed 30 or more capsules, "she would have absorbed enough of the barbiturates to kill her before it was all dissolved."
He also discounts the possibility that she was given a "hot shot" injection of the drugs since neither he nor Noguchi could find any sign of needle marks on her body. (Both the original autopsy report and the 1982 review came to the same conclusion.)
Miner had hoped to get Noguchi's support for another autopsy. Noguchi's attorney, Godfrey Isaac, said the former coroner was traveling in Asia and could not be reached for comment.
It is Miner's theory that the actress took or was given chloral hydrate to render her unconscious - possibly in a soft drink - and someone then dissolved Nembutal in water by breaking open 30 or more capsules and administered the lethal solution by enema.
He said that he and Noguchi noticed a discoloration of the large intestine in the original autopsy and that there is a possibility that if the body were exhumed, tissue samples could be taken to determine if she had been given an enema filled with enough drugs to be toxic.
Carroll said he had no objections to another autopsy and stressed that he had "no vested interest" in the outcome.
But he noted that in his review, he talked to an independent expert, Dr. Boyd G. Stephens, former chief medical examiner-coroner for the city and county of San Francisco, who said the amount of Nembutal in the liver was about twice as much as in the blood, suggesting that the person lived for "quite a period of time" after ingesting the drugs.
Carroll told The Times that if Monroe had an enema containing the drugs, it would have gotten into her system rapidly and "you wouldn't expect it to have that ratio in the liver."
The D.A.'s review concluded that "the cumulative evidence available to us fails to support any theory of criminal conduct relating to her death."
Monroe's Sworn Enema?
by Joal Ryan
Marilyn Monroe was killed by what she loved: An enema.
Such is the conclusion of a former Los Angeles County prosecutor who has long suspected the film goddess was murdered, and has gone public with transcripts of audio recordings he says she made that back up his argument.
Excerpts of John W. Miner's transcripts were published in the Los Angeles Times on Friday, the 43rd anniversary of Monroe's death. The complete transcripts, minus "the most graphic words and passages," but with their praise of Clark Gable, orgasms and enemas, and their detailing of a one-night stand with Joan Crawford intact, can be found online at LaTimes.com.
The nude body of Monroe was found in her Los Angeles home on Aug. 5, 1962. The autopsy, which Miner attended, showed the clinical cause of death was barbiturate overdose; the somewhat inconclusive conclusion was that the 36-year-old actress probably took her own life.
"Marilyn Monroe bears the stigma of suicide," the 86-year-old Miner writes in a blow-by-blow accounting of the case, also posted on the Times' Website. "That is wrong and must be corrected."
Miner argues that it was unlikely that Monroe received her lethal dose of drugs orally (no traces in the stomach, he said) or via injection (no needle marks, he said). To him, that leaves an enema as the likely conduit. According to Miner's theory, Monroe was slipped a "Mickey Finn" in order to knock her out, and then administered an enema bag loaded with Nembutal by "person(s) unknown."
The rumor mill long has been churning out murder suspects with regards to the Monroe death--from CIA operatives to the Kennedys, the latter fueled by Monroe's reputed affairs with both President John F. Kennedy and his brother, then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. In his writing, Miner himself doesn't name names. His Monroe transcripts don't offer any hints of enemies, either.
To Miner, the transcripts are evidence not of Monroe's killers, but of her state of mind--her optimistic state of mind. "She had too many plans to fulfill, too much to live for, and had, at last, found the physical satisfaction that she so missed for all of her life," the Times-posted treatise says.
Among the highlights of Miner's supposed Monroe transcripts:
The actress, addressing her psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson, riffs her way from James Joyce's Ulysses to Jews in Hollywood. "What is a Jew?" Monroe asks. "I have met and [unknown--the Times edited out the presumably offending word or words] more Jews than I can count, and boy have I been screwed by some of them."
Monroe credits Greenson with instructing her on how to "stimulate myself," and achieve orgasm.
Prior to Greenson's advice, Monroe says she was an expert at faking orgasms, and should have won an Academy Award for her performances.
Crawford, who won an Academy Award for Mildred Pierce, "had a gigantic orgasm and shrieked like a maniac" during her one night of passion with Monroe. Later, Crawford turned nasty when Monroe rejected the older woman's advances for "another round."
Most of Monroe's big-screen brethren lived for, and loved, enemas, although Mae West is the only enema enthusiast Monroe names--excluding herself. "Yes, I enjoy enemas," she says. "So, what!"
Monroe says she loved working with Gable on The Misfits, dreamed he asked her to star with him in a sequel to Gone with the Wind, and cried for two days when he died in 1960.
Monroe loved Frank Sinatra, but didn't want to marry him. She loved former husband Joe DiMaggio, but he didn't want to be married to her screen persona. She made a mistake marrying playwright Arthur Miller.
Monroe vowed to be the highest-paid actress in Hollywood--"double what they pay [Elizabeth] Taylor"--and then use her clout to launch the "Marilyn Monroe Shakespeare Film Festival."
The "Commander-in-Chief," presumably President Kennedy, is a great man; "Bobby," presumably Robert Kennedy, is a puzzle--"Doctor, what should I do about Bobby?"
According to Miner, Monroe made the audio recordings at Greenson's home--possibly in 1962, the Times suggests. An author who used Miner's transcripts as the basis for a 2004 book on Monroe told the Times he believes Monroe handed over the tapes to Greenson on Aug. 4, 1962, the day before her death.
The author, Matthew Smith, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour M. Hersh, said to have referenced the transcripts in his 1998 book on the Kennedys, are among those who told the newspaper they believe Miner to be a credible source. Such endorsements are key as Miner claims Greenson, who died in 1979, destroyed the Monroe tapes, and that he is the only living human who has heard them. He told the Times his transcripts are based on "extensive" and "nearly verbatim" notes of the recordings.
For what it's worth, a psychiatry professor who bills himself as a "pioneer in past-life regression therapy," and has a client he is convinced is the reincarnation of Monroe, says he thinks the transcripts sound like the late actress.
Dr. Adrian Finkelstein told E! Online on Monday that while he has yet to ask his subject, identified as recording artist Sherrie Lea, about the transcripts, from what he has gleaned from the Times report, they "most probably" are Monroe's words.
Finkelstein even agrees with Miner's basic conclusion, to a point. Based on his interviews with the purportedly reincarnated Monroe, conducted while his subject was under hypnosis, he explained, the original Monroe did not kill herself--at least not intentionally.
"She didn't want to die," Finkelstein said, "but she realized she took too much. It was an accidental overdose."
Monroe was reborn 11 months later, Finkelstein said. He is vowing to introduce her reincarnation to the public on August 13 in New York.
Mystery may yet surround Monroe's death, but according to Finkelstein, her reincarnated version, at least, has found peace.
Said the doctor of his client: "She is relieved."
Ex-Prosecutor Claims Monroe Wasn't Suicidal
Says He Has Notes Of Her Secret Confessions To A Psychiatrist
On the anniversary of Marilyn Monroe's death, a former prosecutor has unveiled what he says are notes of her secret confessions to a psychiatrist that show her as anything but suicidal.
"There was no possible way this woman could have killed herself," John Miner told the Los Angeles Times for a story published Friday. "She had very specific plans for her future. She knew exactly what she wanted to do."
Miner, 86, said he would like to see another autopsy performed on Monroe and believes the large dose of barbiturates found in her body may have been administered by someone else.
Meanwhile, fans were holding their annual gathering Friday near her crypt at Westwood Village Memorial Park to honor the star of movies such as "Some Like It Hot."
Conspiracy theories about Monroe's Aug. 5, 1962, death have become part of her legend. Many continue to doubt the official conclusion of "probable suicide" reached after the 36-year-old actress was found naked and face down on a bed in her Brentwood home.
Miner is the former head of the Los Angeles County district attorney's medical-legal section. He provided the Times with notes he says he took of audiotapes made by Monroe's psychiatrist.
Miner said they show a motivated actress who wanted to do Shakespearean plays and promised her psychiatrist that she had thrown all her "pills in the toilet," a possible reference to her reported drug dependency.
The notes, which Miner called "extensive" and "nearly verbatim," also show Monroe obsessing about the Oscars, alleging she had a one-night stand with Joan Crawford and speaking candidly about the failures of her marriages to baseball star Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller.
There has been no independent confirmation of the tapes, which Miner said he believes may have been made close to the time of Monroe's death. Miner said the psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson, played the tapes for him in 1962 on condition that he never reveal their contents, and that Greenson may have destroyed them before his 1979 death.
Miner said years after Greenson's death, he broke the promise after some biographers suggested that Greenson might be considered a suspect in Monroe's death.
Greenson's widow, Hildegard, told the Times that she did not know whether the tapes existed and never heard her husband discuss them.
According to Miner's notes, Monroe praised President John F. Kennedy but never indicates she slept with him. She does mention his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, saying "there is no room in my life for him."
"I want someone else to tell him it's over," she says, according to Miner's notes.
Miner has shown his notes to several people in recent years and excerpts appeared in Matthew Smith's book "Marilyn's Last Words: Her Secret Tapes and Mysterious Death."
However, the Times received previously unpublished parts from Miner.
The district attorney's office re-examined Monroe's death in 1982 and interviewed Miner but determined there wasn't enough evidence to open a criminal investigation.
At the time, Miner mentioned that Greenson had the taped interviews but never said he had notes of them, said Ronald Carroll, a former deputy district attorney who conducted the review.
If Miner had mentioned the notes, Carroll said he probably would have sought them through a grand jury subpoena.
Here is what the 1992 best-selling book, Double Cross: The Explosive, Inside Story Of The Mobster Who Controlled America had to say about Marilyn Monroe's murder on pp. 314-315:
Bobby Kennedy finally did appear at Marilyn's home, late on Saturday, accompanied by another man. Listening in on the conversation, Giancana's men ascertained that Marilyn was more than a little angry at Bobby. She became agitated - hysterical in fact - and in response, they heard Kennedy instruct the man with him, evidently a doctor, to give her a shot to "calm her down." Shortly thereafter, the attorney general and the doctor left.
The killers waited for the cover of darkness and, sometime before midnight, entered Marilyn's home. She struggled at first, it was said, but already drugged by the injected sedative, thanks to Bobby's doctor friend, their rubber-gloved hands easily forced her nude body to the bed. Calmly, and with all the efficiency of a team of surgeons, they taped her mouth shut and preceded to insert a specially "doctored" Nembutal suppository into her anus. Then they waited.
The suppository, which [Charles] Nicoletti said had been prepared by the same Chicago chemist who concocted the numerous chemical potions for the Castro hit, had been a brilliant choice. A lethal dosage of sedatives administered orally, and by force, would have been too risky, causing suspicious bruising during a likely struggle, as well as vomiting - a side effect that typically resulted from ingesting the huge quantities necessary to guarantee death.
Using a suppository would eliminate any hope of reviving Marilyn, should she be found, since the medication was quickly absorbed through the anal membrane directly into the bloodstream. There'd be nothing in the stomach to pump out. Additionally, a suppository was as fast acting as an injection, but left no needle mark for a pathologist to discover. In short, it was the perfect weapon with which to kill Marilyn Monroe.
Indeed, within moments of insertion, the suppository's massive combination of barbiturates and chlorylhydrate quickly entered her bloodstream, rendering her totally unconscious. The men carefully removed the tape, wiped her mouth clean, and placed her across the bed. Their job completed, they left as quietly as they had come.
It as at this point that Giancana had hoped "Act Two" of the drama would begin - that next, Bobby Kennedy's affair with the distraught, love-scorned starlet would be exposed.