LA Coroner Craig Harvey On Marilyn’s Death

As recently announced here, the retired Los Angeles County coroner, Craig Harvey, spoke at length about Marilyn’s death during an LA Woman Tours/Dearly Departed event in October. Elisa Jordan has posted a full report on the Marilyn Remembered Facebook group.

“Craig Harvey has researched Marilyn’s passing more than anyone (literally) because of the public’s interest and media requests. Here are some take-away moments from Craig’s lecture and Q&A:

* Expert conclusion: suicide
* No signs of foul play
* A coroner investigation team did not exist until 1967. The investigation was as thorough as possible for 1962. NOTE: Because of this, the coroner’s office never entered the scene.
* In 1962, bodies were routinely removed to local funeral homes. If it was deemed necessary to have an autopsy performed, the body then went to the coroner’s office. In Marilyn’s case, she was taken to Westwood and then to the coroner’s office. In other words, this was an extra thorough investigation. The officers at the scene had determined suicide so an autopsy shows how thorough they were trying to be.
* The paper work indicates that only Marilyn’s body was removed from the scene. No artifacts from her home were taken—this includes any sort of diary.
* Lionel Grandison, who said he saw a red diary, would not have had access to any physical evidence, such as a diary. All he did was process paper work.
* No puncture marks were found on Marilyn’s body (extra: puncture wounds take about 24 hours to heal)
* Dr. Thomas Noguchi does not recall John Miner being present at the autopsy, but made the distinction (per my question) that he doesn’t recall being alone either. He made that clear but in other words, there is no record of John Miner being present. Today everybody attending an autopsy must sign a log.
* He has never known of a case in which enemas had administered a fatal overdose.
* Marilyn lived for quite a while after taking pills. Her body slowly shut itself down. This explains her empty stomach and body chemistry.
* Marilyn took between 25-40 pills. Today there is better technology to get a more exact estimate.
* Someone asked about Marilyn not throwing up. Answer: some overdoses vomit and some do not. Marilyn did not, nor was there foam around her mouth. Same with expelling the contents of bladder and colon—some people expel and others do not. Marilyn did not.
* Dr. Noguchi did not request any pictures of Marilyn be taken during the autopsy. The postmortem photo that Anthony Summers published was taken by someone in the LAPD. It was not authorized. NOTE: In the state of California, coroner photos are not ‘confidential’ but they *are* protected by law. In theory, they are not made public. They are sometimes stolen or leaked during a court trial, which doesn’t apply to Marilyn. But it does explain how that particular photo got out—it was a rogue in the LAPD.
* With toxicology, it is relatively easy to find which drugs are in the system and how much (especially these days). The hard part that takes a while to figure out is determining how said drugs would affect an individual’s body. It’s different for every person.
* Technically, anyone can request that a case be reopened. This explains the 1982 investigation.”

Author Reveals History of Rockhaven

Elisa Jordan, author of an upcoming book about Rockhaven Sanitarium (where Marilyn’s mother Gladys was a patient from 1953-67) will be appearing at Flintridge Bookstore on November 14 from 7:00 – 8:30 pm.

“For decades, the mild climate of the Crescenta Valley served as a haven for those seeking mental health rest and relief from lung ailments. In 1923, registered nurse Agnes Richards decided it was the perfect place to open a sanitarium, one that would set itself apart from the rest. Rockhaven Sanitarium catered to female residents only and, with few exceptions, exclusively employed women. It was a progressive treatment center that prided itself on treating residents with dignity and respect. The center’s high ideals and proximity to early Hollywood attracted residents like Billie Burke; Marilyn Monroe’s mother, Gladys; and Clark Gable’s first wife, Josephine Dillon.”

Marilyn Book News: Comic Confidential

Hot off the press, Marilyn’s Monsters is a graphic novel by Tommy Redolfi which retells her story as a dark fairytale. Now available with a preface by cult filmmaker David Cronenberg, it was previously published in France as Marilyn in Holy Wood.  You can find out more and view sample pages here.

Also just published, Samantha Barbas’ Confidential Confidential looks at the forces behind the notorious scandal magazine which exposed the secrets of Marilyn and other 1950s stars.

A new photo book set for release next month, Marilyn: Lost Images From the Hollywood Photo Archive  includes images from the collection of publicist Colin Slater, with text by Boze Hadleigh, who recently authored Marilyn Forever, a book of quotes about the star from celebrities past and present. More info on the archive here.

Also due in October is Rockhaven Sanitarium, a history of the pioneering women’s psychiatric clinic where Marilyn’s mother Gladys lived for almost fifteen years, authored by LA Woman Tours boss (and friend of this blog) Elisa Jordan. (You can read more about Rockhaven’s history here.)

LA Coroner to Speak on Marilyn’s Death

On October 20, Craig Harvey, the recently retired Chief Coroner for Los Angeles County, will speak about Marilyn’s death and take questions from the audience, as part of a day-long ‘Through the Valley of Death‘ tour, visiting sites associated with Hollywood tragedies, and hosted by  Scott Michaels (Dearly Departed Tours) and Elisa Jordan of LA Woman Tours, who commented today…

“Craig is the recently retired lead investigator for the Los Angeles County Coroners Office and the leading authority on Marilyn’s passing. Because there have been so many investigations, news stories, books and questions (from people like me!), it has been Craig’s job to consult the actual case records, both coroner and police, to answer any and all questions accurately. Because of his position in the coroners office, he is also (obviously) an expert on procedure, including procedures that were in place in 1962. Craig isn’t a Marilyn fan and doesn’t have an agenda. He just happens to be the guy who ended up with this job. This may be our only chance to ask a person of this caliber questions about Marilyn so I wanted to make sure everyone knows.

Disclaimer 1: This is part of an *all day* event that is also filled with non-Marilyn stuff. So if you want to hear Craig, you have to attend the other stuff too (but the other stuff is really fun so you’ll want to go!)

Disclaimer 2: I helped plan this event, which means there will be no disrespect of Marilyn.”

Immortal Marilyn in January

This month’s updates include Elisa Jordan’s profile of Marilyn’s make-up artist and close friend, Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder; an interview with Cursum Perficio author Gary Vitacco-Robles, whose two-volume biography, Icon: The Life Times and Films of Marilyn Monroe is due to be published this year; and a rather bizarre article published in Top Secret magazine shortly after Marilyn’s death.

‘Rain’: Marilyn’s Lost TV Movie

Photo by Terri Arden

In a fascinating, 3-part guest post for Elisa Jordan’s regular column at the Examiner, Eric Woodard looks behind at the ill-fated Rain, planned as a TV movie in 1961. Cast as prostitute Sadie Thompson, who clashes with an obsessive preacher in an adaptation of Somerset Maugham’s classic short story, Marilyn hoped to follow in the hallowed footsteps of Jeanne Eagels, Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford and Rita Hayworth, all of whom had previously played the role. (The project was suggested by her Actors’ Studio guru, Lee Strasberg, and her faith in his vision would cost her deeply.)

Eric is the author of Hometown Girl, and he also blogs about Marilyn’s favourite costume designer, Travilla.