In 1962, Marilyn Monroe was found dead from an apparent drug overdose, lying face down on her bed and clutching a telephone – but decades later, some allege that the circumstances surrounding the blonde bombshell’s untimely demise were kept under wraps, at least until now.
A new Netflix documentary, “The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes,” aims to explore the lurid lore surrounding the Hollywood sex symbol’s final hours. The film, directed by Emma Cooper, features never-before-heard recordings from more than 650 interviews conducted by Anthony Summers.
The writer spent years speaking with Monroe’s friends, co-stars, closest confidantes, as well as government officials associated with the actress. Summers’ book, titled “Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe,” is based on his investigation. The book has been updated this year with new documents and accounts to coincide with the 60th anniversary of her passing in August.
“No, she wasn’t [dead at home],” ambulance company owner Walter Schaefer alleged in one of Summers’ recordings. He claimed that Monroe was comatose, but alive, when Ken Hunter, one of his drivers, picked her up and began transporting her to an emergency room in Santa Monica. Several members of the Schaefer ambulance company corroborated his claim.
Writer John Sherlock also alleged that Monroe’s last psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson, told him years later that Monroe was alive at home and was transported by ambulance to St. John’s Health Center. However, she died en route.
“She died in the ambulance,” Sherlock alleged. “Then they took her back to the house. [Greenson] told me he was in the ambulance.”
“Anybody who’s lived in Los Angeles for years will know about Schaefer ambulance,” Summers told Fox News Digital. “Walter Schaefer said they did pick her up in a comatose state that night and took her somewhere. I’m not clear that in fact, they took her to Santa Monica Hospital. It may have been another hospital. Nobody knew that Marilyn had been brought to the hospital and found to be dead.”
“My speculation, but a very informed speculation, is that she was taken to the hospital in the hope that she could be saved, but she died in transit,” Summers continued. “Walter Schaefer, the boss of the ambulance company, said very clearly to me, ‘We took her and we brought her home again.’”
According to Summers, Schaefer suggested that Monroe wouldn’t have been the first Hollywood star “for whom it was decided that it was best to bring her back and allow her to appear to have died in her own bed, at home.”
The documentary also alleged that Monroe was intimate with both President John F. Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, before they both abruptly ended their trysts with her. Surveillance expert Reed Wilson alleged in the film that Robert called Monroe the night of her death from Peter Lawford’s house. Wilson claimed Monroe told him, “Don’t bother me. Leave me alone. Stay out of my life. I feel passed around, I feel used. I feel like a piece of meat.”
According to the documentary, Wilson was hired by private detective Fred Otash to keep tabs on both Monroe and the Kennedys through hidden electronic devices planted in the actor’s house. Otash was said to have been commissioned by Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa, who was under investigation by the Justice Department, headed by Robert. Lawford, a member of the “Rat Pack,” was married to Patricia Kennedy Lawford, a sibling of the Kennedy family.
Monroe’s housekeeper, Eunice Murray, also alleged in the documentary that Robert attempted to hide the fact that he was in Los Angeles on the night of Monroe’s death and even came to her house, where they had a tense argument hours before she was discovered.
Senior FBI agent Jim Doyle alleged to Summers that federal officials headed to Monroe’s home before the police came and removed anything that would tie Monroe with the Kennedys. Law enforcement informant Harry Hall supported the allegation and claimed that Monroe’s death was a “hush-hush” matter.
Still, both Cooper and Summers stressed that the Kennedys were not responsible for Monroe’s death.
“I think the film very faithfully follows Anthony’s ethos of journalism and investigation,” Cooper explained. “What I was trying to do as the storyteller here was to untangle some strands. And as a documentary filmmaker, I had the ability to produce some facts out of these and look for the truth as revealed by his rigorous crosschecking of sources… He didn’t just go and find one ambulance driver. He went and found several. So I was able to confidently say something that I don’t think people know. I think they should know that this happened. It was very important for me to try and find a sense of truth, as observed by Tony. The truth is most likely somewhere in the middle.”
Summers said that over the years, the Kennedys have had “enormous difficulty” with this subject.
“They’re probably just weary of it,” he said. “It’s a long time now since both the brothers died. But what’s interesting to me was the sensitivity even years later when ABC television attempted to make a documentary about the end of Marilyn’s life. [It] was taken off at the very last minute.”
“… One found that the Kennedys were one way, related or friendly, with the key people [at] ABC who’d canceled the program,” he alleged. “Getting the information on the Kennedys’ involvement with Marilyn Monroe was a bit like getting the goods on the queen of England.”
Summers said he too was tired of the many conspiracy theories surrounding Monroe’s involvement with the Kennedys that have lingered over the years.
“There’s been so much trash written about the end of Marilyn Monroe and her involvement with the Kennedys,” he said. “There was an involvement with the Kennedys. I come away from the story feeling that that is certain, but the rumors about her being murdered in mysterious ways? I don’t buy that. The poor thing, after an unhappy life, despite all the fame, either overdosed on barbiturates, which she had done before, or, because of her frustration and her state of mind, perhaps she killed herself. But I think more than likely, it was a tragic accident.”
Summers shared that most of his sources, many of whom have since passed away, were wary of revisiting the past.
“I investigated this in the 1980s,” he said. “I was very lucky because immediately after she died, most people had been reluctant to talk about her. They just didn’t want to go there. Many of them were unhappy about the way she died… A lot of them, I had to persuade to talk to me, and it took months of wooing.”
Cooper shared that despite the struggles Monroe endured both in her personal and public life, the star was trying “to turn her life around in many ways.”
“She sought out a lot of therapy,” said Cooper. “This was somebody who really couldn’t sleep and had terrible insomnia issues. I can understand how that would lead to a perfect storm of events that might end up with you, unfortunately, passing away… This was an extraordinary woman who had trauma in her past, who was attempting to pull herself out of that trauma.”
Cooper said she believes her film will show the public another side to Monroe, one who had hopes and dreams about her future before her life was cut short at age 36. Summers agreed, sharing that many of his sources saw the actress in a completely different light.
“This was a bright woman who read incessantly,” he said. “She would never be seen on the set of a movie or whatever she was doing without a notebook or a book. She was always scribbling notes. She was interested in history and philosophy. She wanted to better herself. She was also quite sophisticated politically. I think that was appealing to some of the political men that she knew in her life. She was a special person, an intelligent person behind the dumb blonde image.”
Summers said he hopes the documentary, as well as his years of research, will finally put the many conspiracy theories that have haunted Monroe’s legacy to rest.
“There might be some documentation out there that I haven’t seen, or the world hasn’t seen yet,” he said. “But I somehow doubt it. I think that endless story about Marilyn, or the end of Marilyn’s life about how she died… I think at last we have the nearest thing to an answer from credible witnesses.”
“The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes” is available for streaming.