Marilyn Monroe, 36, dies from overdose of sleeping pills

Marilyn Monroe, who often tried without success to shut herself off from the world, early yesterday did so. The 36-year-old actress was found dead in bed in her Brentwood home, apparently the victim of an overdose of sleeping pills. A telephone receiver dangled from her lifeless hand, and near the bed police say they picked up an empty bottle that had contained about 50 nembutal capsules a few days ago. Police last night held the death could have been accidental, as well. County Coroner Theodore J. Curphey said he could give a “presumptive opinion” that death was caused by an overdose of drugs and late yesterday tests were begun to determine if the demise was accidental or not. Probably results will not be known till late tomorrow.

Miss Monroe who vaulted into global prominence through cheesecake publicity before her acting ability became recognized in “The Seven Year Itch,” died alone behind her locked bedroom door only a month after she caused international headlines for failure to work out a commitment in 20th-Fox’s “Something’s Got to Give.”

No notes were left; or at least none was found.

Miss Monroe’s mother, a film cutter named Gladys Baker, suffered a nervous breakdown after Marilyn was born and the child was raised in a succession of foster homes. When in her teens, working in an aircraft plant, she started modeling for photogs and caught eyes at 20th and got a brief part in “Scudda Hoo, Scudda Hay” in 1947. The bit she did ended on the cutting floor. Thereafter she studied acting and caught some attention with a bit in MGM’s “Asphalt Jungle” in 1950.

At about that time she achieved a lot of notoriety when a calendar manufacturer marketed a nude still for which she previously had posed. She had received $50. The manufacturer netted many thousands. Her first click was in 20th’s “How To Marry a Millionaire” in 1953 and after “Itch” the following year she was established.

In all she did 21 films and only a few starred her and of those only “Millionaire,” “Some Like It Hot,” “Itch” and “Bus Stop” were b.o. clicks.

Marriages to Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller were shortlived as was an even briefer cinch with an aircraft worker when she was 15.

Other films in which she did roles were ” A Ticket To Tomahawk” (1949), “All About Eve” (1950), “As Young As You Feel,” “Lets Make It Legal,” “Love Nest” and “Clash by Night” (1951); “Don’t Bother To Knock,” “O. Henrys Full House,” “We’re Not Married,” “Monkey Business,” “Niagara,” and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1952); “River of No Return” (1953); “There’s No Business Like Show Business” (1954), “The Prince And The Showgirl” (1956), “Lets Make Love” and “The Misfits” (1960).

(Original news story from 1962.)

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more