Thomas Noguchi: Coroner to the Stars


‘Coroner to the Stars’ Dr Thomas Noguchi has spoken to the Daily Telegraph about his role in the much-disputed autopsy of Marilyn Monroe.

“When Noguchi looked at the police report, he saw that the dead woman was 5ft 4in tall and weighed just over 10 stone. Various bottles of pills, including an empty bottle of the sleeping pill Nembutal, had been found close to her body. Her name meant nothing to him. It was only after he had read the report that someone told him that she was better known as Marilyn Monroe. ‘Even then,’ says Noguchi, ‘I didn’t think for a moment he meant the movie star. I just assumed it was someone else who had the same name.’

But when he walked into the autopsy room and lifted up the sheet that had been placed over the naked body, any doubts were swept away. When he’s asked how Marilyn Monroe looked in death, Noguchi, who has a fondness for poetry, quotes the Latin poet, Petrarch: ‘It’s folly to shrink in fear, if this is dying. For death looked lovely in her lovely face.’ At the time, though, it’s safe to assume that Petrarch was not uppermost on his mind. ‘Of course, I felt pressure, but I remember thinking very clearly that I must make sure I was not distracted by who she was…’”

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