Hi friends! I’m Didi West and this is Broken Limelight.
Today’s episode is about Brittany Murphy.
Brittany Murphy was a vibrant young actress who was so full of life. She was seemingly healthy, so when she died at 32 years old of “pneumonia”, the whole world was shocked and to this day, Brittany’s fans and even those close to her, are still suspicious and people have taken to sharing conspiracy theories of what could have killed Brittany.
There are quite a few conspiracy theories and I’m going to touch on all of them, but more importantly, we’re gonna break down the theories and review the physical evidence to find out what really killed Brittany Murphy.
Brittany Murphy was known for roles in Clueless, 8 Mile, Just Married, Uptown Girls, Little Black Book. She did voice acting in Happy Feet and King of the Hill. You might even remember her as a child star. She had roles in shows like Sister Sister, Party of 5, she was in Boy Meets World, which is one of my favorite roles of hers. She played Trini, who was this really quirky, goofy girl and she was Topanga’s best friend in the earlier seasons. She was really funny, a true entertainer from the very beginning. And she always knew she would be some kind of performer.
Brittany was born in Atlanta, Georgia on November 10, 1977. Her parents are named Sharon Murphy and Angelo Bertolotti. Angelo was an Italian New Yorker who was involved in organized crime. Sharon was 14 years old when she met Angelo, she was actually friends with one of his sons. Ten years later, Sharon looked him up, they got together, and Brittany was born.
Sharon and Angelo split up when Brittany was two years old. From then on, Angelo was mostly out of the picture and Sharon raised Brittany pretty much single-handedly.
Brittany and Sharon were crazy close throughout Brittany’s life. I mean crazy close. They referred to each other as “soul mates” or “my better half”. They did everything together. Even well into Brittany’s adulthood, people said that they had more of a best friend relationship than a mother-daughter relationship. When Brittany would get invited to parties and stuff, she would sometimes ask if she could bring Sharon along.
As I said, Brittany always knew that she would be an entertainer. When she was about 6 years old, she and her father were eating at a restaurant and saw Burt Reynolds at the next table. They were actually filming there and she went over to talk to them. When they brought her back, she said “One day, you’re going to ask for my autograph.”
Sharon and Brittany lived in New Jersey for a while and Brittany started going to a performing arts school, and began training in singing, dancing, and acting, at only 4 years old.
As a young girl, she did some commercials and when she was 13, she landed a role in Drexell’s class, and asked her mom if they could move to LA to pursue her acting career. Well actually, she begged her. And Sharon obliged.
So Brittany went to LA at just 13 years old, and she actually stayed with a chaperone for the first couple of months until Sharon could sell all their shit to move out there with her. Here, Brittany had to learn to cook and take care of herself for the time being.
But when Sharon got to LA, she did everything for Brittany. She was like, more than a manager. Brittany openly admitted that she never bothered to learn how to drive or balance her own checkbook, she was happy to let other people do it for her, like her mom, her business partners, and eventually, Simon.
In 1994, Brittany got her breakthrough role, playing Tai Frasier in Clueless. She was still a minor, so Sharon accompanied her on set during filming.
During this time, Sharon was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Brittany really took on a caretaker role here. She was always by her mother’s side, taking care of her.
She did this all while trying to do her best work on Clueless. Sadly, Brittany didn’t have any space to express any emotions about this.
She had to cope with this tragic news, all while holding down her job on Clueless and dealing with being a teenager.
Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens a lot with child actors. They’re thrust into the limelight before hitting puberty, and have to juggle school work with press appearances and film schedules, all before they’ve even had their first kiss.
Also, studies have shown that child performers can often find themselves struggling with reality and succumbing to the ambitions of those around them, and finding themselves performing not just to please their parents, but to please everyone around them. And they can quickly forget that their career doesn’t define them.
I was listening to Jennette McCurdy’s podcast. She's the actress on Nickelodeon who played Sam in iCarly and Sam & Cat. Her podcast is called “Empty Inside” and she’s spoken out about her experience as a child actor a lot. One of the things she said was that when she started going to therapy, she found herself trying to be funny and entertaining to her therapist, and when she realized it she was like “omg what, I’m not supposed to be entertaining them.”
I’m gonna talk more about child stars in a future episode but I highly recommend you listen to “Empty Inside” too.
Sharon would get cancer a 2nd time in 2003 and as you can imagine, Brittany took care of her again.
After Clueless, jobs started coming in. She got a lot of supporting character roles, it was a while before she would play the main character in a film. But Brittany really was a favorite for supporting characters. Like in Girl, Interrupted alongside Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder, and then 8 Mile with Eminem.
Throughout her career, Brittany’s lovelife was pretty publicized. She dated Eminem for a bit during 8 Mile, Ashton Kutcher for a bit following Just Married. She was engaged to a production assistant from Little Black Book, but the engagement lasted less than a year. Ashton Kutcher had once said about Brittany that she was very needy and too full-on. He apparently went on to say that she wanted to be married and live like a princess in a fairy tale, and she was so desperate, she would do anything to get married, no matter what it was.
In late 2006, Brittany met Simon Monjack, and they were married in May 2007. Let’s talk about Simon for a minute.
If you missed all the tabloid drama during Brittany and Simon’s relationship, let me tell you, everyone was talking about this.
Brittany was hot, and not just appearance-wise, but her career was just booming. She was like America’s sweetheart. And all of a sudden, she’s dating this big fat guy who everyone seems to hate.
How that relationship started is kind of murky. Simon claims that he actually met Brittany when she was a teenager, but there’s no evidence of them actually having met before 2006. Within 3 months, they were married in a super private ceremony. Not even their parents were invited.
Let me tell you why people hate Simon. Simon Monjack was an extremely shady dude. He had a nickname that was like, widely used: Conjack.
A lot of people, like investors and filmmakers, have accused Simon of shady shit
He had a girlfriend from whom he borrowed 200,000 #s, and he never paid her back.
Then there’s Susan Stewart Potter (The White Hotel), who he destroyed without a second thought. I’ll get into that, but basically he partnered with her on this movie, and then he took her name off of it.
In 2005, Virginia authorities issued warrants for Monjack’s arrest on credit-card fraud and theft allegations, but did not pursue charges.
In 2006, he was sued in New York by mortgage firm Coutts and Co. and was forced to fork over $470,000.
And, in 2007, his ex-wife, Simone Bienne, a UK television personality he’d married in Las Vegas in 2001, sued him in LA. She was awarded the $63,000 he hadn’t paid in their 2006 divorce. Settled in 2009.
Between 1997 and 2006, Monjack was evicted from four separate homes, the records show.
Factory Girl director George Hickenlooper warned Brittany about Simon. She got angry, and said that she knew him better than anyone else, and hung up. George tried to call her a few months later to see if she was alright, and Simon didn’t let him talk to her.
Simon also had a daughter named Jazmyn, who was born in 2002, but he lacked the parenting instincts and pretty much left them. In 2013, Jazmyn was 18, she told a journalist that the last time she saw Simon was when she was 7. When she did see him, she saw his money. But when he left, there was nothing. He never paid child support or left Jazmyn or her mother anything after he died.
Also-- and this just shows what greaseball yucko this guy is-- He was like, notorious for going out to dinner with important film-making people and bragging about being a billionaire and about the success of his projects, and he literally NEVER picked up the tab.
There’s this one source who worked with Simon who had said:
“Simon invited me to lunch at the Belair hotel with him and his girlfriend. He kept up all his old pretences. He paid the check, billing it to his room. I found out later that his poor girlfriend paid for their stay at the Belair.”
So, Simon and Brittany got married in April 2007. But before that….
In February 2007,
Simon was arrested because his Visa expired. He bawled like a blubbering baby and was detained for 9 days before Brittany bailed him out. When Brittany and Simon got married just a few weeks later, people started to speculate that this rushed marriage was a fraudulent attempt to keep Simon from getting deported, and the Department of Homeland Security and ICE started to keep a close eye on them.
Around this same time, Brittany told her staff that she was unable to pay some of their salary. She told an elaborate story of how she was being stalked by a high-powered hollywood player, and that Simon was kidnapped, and she had to pay a ransom to get him back.
Oddly, the dates of the alleged kidnapping seem to coincide with the days that Simon was detained for his expired Visa.
So there is one thing that could explain this bizarre story. But it’s… weird.
In June 2007, some guy named Arturo Globenfelt posted on Simon’s IMDB page saying that Simon owed him $16 million dollars for an investment he never paid back. News outlets started spewing about Simon’s many enemies, including this investor to whom he owes millions of dollars.
The funny thing is, Arturo, turned out to be a guy named Rob, who is just a big ol’ troll. Rob admitted after Brittany’s death that he was just getting a kick out of adding to the narrative that Simon’s a sketchy piece of shit, while creating this fictional character who had big money. When Brittany died, he decided it wasn’t fun anymore, was a little ashamed, and dropped it.
Interestingly though, Simon obviously must have known that he didn’t owe $16 million dollars to any Arturo Globenfeldt, and yet he never tried to clear that up.
I wonder if maybe Brittany decided to roll with this Arturo story and use it as the foundation for her little story about Simon getting kidnapped. Maybe she couldn’t pay her staff or just didn’t want to. Idk.
Maybe she just didn’t want people to know what really happened.
Anyway, I searched far and wide about this kidnapping, but I don’t think it really happened and I don’t think anyone knows why Brittany told that story.
Linda believed the two were very, very paranoid though, and this may have been because ICE truly was keeping tabs on them.
Linda: “'Simon did say he was under surveillance. He was detained by the American government because his passport had run out. He said he was followed and beaten up and he was detained for nine days,' she said.
'Brittany got him out eventually, but from then on they felt there was a deep conspiracy. There is definitely something here that's not right - but what it is I don't know.
'At the funeral in Los Angeles, Brittany's mother, Sharon, insisted on going to the service in an armored car and there were security guards with guns.
'When I flew over immediately after Simon died I asked Sharon if I could sit in his room on my own but she wouldn't let me stay there without a security guard.'"
So you gotta wonder… I mean, it seems to me that they’re lying to Linda. So far she seems like the only honest person involved here. But she also seems so, so heartbroken after losing her son, and she truly can’t believe that the cause of death can just be “pneumonia”. So I can only imagine that it’s easier to accept the possibility that maybe there was a government conspiracy or an enemy out to get him.
Brittany, Simon, and Sharon went to Puerto Rico to film The Caller, but Brittany was fired the first day.
(fired)- According to the Hollywood Reporter, Monjack showed up to filming locations drunk and disrupted the production process. He was promptly banned from the set. Some say that this is why Murphy parted ways with the team, while others insist that it wasn’t her choice. In the end, the movie’s producers said it was a mutual decision, while Monjack claimed that Murphy wanted to leave of her own volition. According to her husband, the horror flick was too scary. (https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/brittany-murphy-was-fired-on-the-1st-day-filming-one-of-her-last-movies.html/)
They decided to stay on the island, and Simon and Sharon contracted a staph infection, and Simon had a “mild heart attack” on the flight back home.
Then, Brittany caught the bacteria. I read in one source that she was also dealing with a severe case of laryngitis and anemia, but I don’t know how that’s known because she decided not to go to the doctor, thinking she could overcome it on her own. When she finally made a doctor’s appointment, it was too late and she didn’t make it.
The weeks leading to Brittany’s death
Brittany’s castmates in her last few films said that her personality would completely change when Simon came around. She appeared not to funcion around him. Sources who worked with Brittany on the film The Caller have said that Monjack was always lurking on set and would intervene to the point that the producers had to call a meeting to discuss how to deal with him.
In fact, Brittany got fired on the first day of filming The Calling, and it sounds like it’s Simon’s fault.
Jay Pickett, who worked with Brittany in Abandoned, stated:
“I do know that Brittany’s demeanour would change a little when he was around. We could be having a conversation and she would see him coming and just change.”
And he wasn’t the only person to make a comment like that. A crew member from The Caller also said “She was one of the team when he wasn’t there. She would be giggling and really having a laugh and was touchy-feely, and he would arrive like he owned the set, and she would automatically revert to his shadow. People have said she was hot and cold. I’d say he was the guy that caused her to bounce like a ping pong ball!”
Another thing is, the shooting schedule for the movie Abandoned was so tight, it was vital for the cast and crew to eat and drink water frequently. Only, nobody ever saw Brittany eat anything. What they did see was Simon constantly bringing her Starbucks and vitamins, and that’s the only thing anyone saw Brittany consume on set.
During the filming of Abandoned, Brittany supposedly started to question her future with Simon, and she turned to Jay Pickett for advice.
He had said that Simon clearly had an emotional hold over her. Brittany had mentioned to him that some of her friends didn’t like Simon and were telling her that she should get out of the relationship.
In Abandoned, Jay’s character rescues Brittany’s character. Jay recalls that while filming that final scene , Brittany asked the producers if they could rewrite the ending so that Brittany’s character could end up with Jay’s character. The producers said no, but Jay felt that it was maybe a little telling about her state of mind. She was looking for someone to rescue her.
Another thing. While Brittany was working in Abandoned, her appearance was really declining. Aside from the fact that she was losing a lot of weight, she often looked sickly. Cast and crew members have said that her hands looked a bluish-purple color, and her makeup was terrible. Apparently, Simon started doing Brittany’s hair and makeup for her. And if you watch Abandoned, you can see it. Her hair is super frail and damaged, like it was unkempt, and her makeup.. Like.
Her lipstick is just really…. Big? It's like a person who’s never put on lipstick, was trying to line her lips to look bigger than natural. I don’t know how else to put it. I’ll upload a photo on the website. Everyone agreed that her makeup looked terrible, but nobody said anything about it, presumably because nobody wanted to question Simon. But her makeup and hair along with her weightloss and her looking sickly, made people really worried about her.
I will mention that at the time of Brittany's death, she weighed approximately 115 lbs. Brittany was 5'2", so this was underweight, but by Hollywood standards, it wasn't really considered too skinny. (Pics on website)
Brittany was difficult on set.-
The last film Brittany worked on was called Across the Hall. Her behavior started getting weird here and this is when people really started talking about her having substance abuse problems.
According to her castmates, Brittany would show up a whole 3 to 4 hours late, with no apologies or explanations. She apparently would go to the bathroom a million times a day and take forever each time. She was also really, really thin at this point. She had been losing weight and so people were speculating that Brittany was doing drugs or had an eating disorder, or both.
Linda Monjack says that she spoke to Simon and Brittany on Skype, and Brittany mentioned that she had a chest infection and didn’t feel well. Linda told her she should see a doctor, and Brittany replied that she had already made an appointment for the following day, Monday the 21st.
On 12/20/09, Brittany woke up at about 3AM coughing and made her way to her bedroom’s balcony for air. Simon woke up to the sound of her coughing, and Brittany asked him to get Sharon.
What Sharon saw frightened her. “She was lying on the patio trying to catch her breath,” Sharon recalled. “I said ‘Baby, get up.’ She said: ‘Mommy, I can’t catch my breath. Help me. Help me.’ ”
Simon recalled, “She said to her mom: ‘I’m dying. I’m going to die. Mommy, I love you.’ ”
“She was always so dramatic,” Sharon said. “I’ve replayed that so many times. She asked if she could use the oxygen, but Simon said her heart could stop with oxygen, and anyway he then had another seizure, a long, horrific seizure.” Sharon then made her daughter hot tea with ginger and lemon. “Her lips were parched, like she was dehydrated,” Sharon said. “So I made her drink that.”
At around 7am, Brittany made her way to her bathroom which was like, her safe space. Sharon went in a few minutes later and Brittany said “Mommy, I really don’t feel well.” and she collapsed again around 8am.
Sharon screamed for Simon, and he tried to put Brittany in a cold shower while Sharon called for 911.
Here’s a little clip of that 911 call.
-Brittany 911 clip-
Isn’t it weird how she’s just like “someone collapsed,” like as if it’s just some stranger in the street? Idk I mean I guess we all do things in shock like that but I just found it so weird.
Detectives arrived to launch an investigation at 4PM, and Simon opened the house up with open arms.
Simon demanded that he did not want an autopsy performed on Brittany. He said it all creepy too, saying that she had these perfect curves and pristine skin and how could we cut that up?
But they were like “nah bro we have to” and they did the autopsy anyway.
Brittany’s death was officially ruled as accidental, concluding the cause of death to be pneumonia and anemia, exacerbated by a mixture of over-the-counter medications. Supposedly, Brittany suffered from a “chronic iron deficiency” from having heavy periods.
After Brittany’s Death
Simon and Sharon were understandably broken after Brittany died. But their behavior was a little… weird. I understand that people all grieve differently, but Sharon and Simon were really, really close. It seemed almost like Sharon had moved on from having a codependent relationship with Brittany, to having a codependent relationship with Simon.
Simon and Sharon did this photo shoot where they were like holding each other while posing with a picture of Brittany. Which, first off, I think it’s weird that they did a photoshoot like that, but if you look at the photos, they look romantic. I’m sorry to say it, but I mean if Brittany could see those photos.. I just feel it’s uncomfortable.
Later on, it was reported that Sharon and Simon started sleeping in the same bed together after Brittany died. I’ll tell you more about that in a minute. But first,
While Simon Monjack and Sharon Murphy were planning Brittany’s memorial service, they made plans to start the Brittany Murphy Foundation and kind of used the memorial service as like, a launch party for the foundation.
So Simon started asking for donations of up to $1,000 for people to attend, or $10k for corporations, in order to raise money for the foundation. It was supposed to feature a bunch of entertainers, Eminem was said to have been invited. But the day before the event, it was announced that the memorial service would be cancelled due to “family illness” and would be rescheduled.
People were sketched out because Simon’s well known as a pretty shady dude. And some of the staff who worked for the venue have stated that the venue was booked only a week in advance, and it seemed like there were no real preparations made for the event.
Simon’s tour of home:
By March 2010, Monjack would not stop talking about Brittney, he did not want the attention on her to die out. He was dying to talk to any reporters who would listen to him. It seemed like he was trying to always drum something up so she’d be the subject of all the headlines again.
So he like buddied up with Radar Online since they were like, willing to listen to him for a bit after everyone else stopped.
So on March 20, Simon invited them to his house and gave them a tour, allegedly for $10,000. By the way, Simon was a disgusting mess by this point. Literally you can watch the video of this tour and he’s unshaven, wearing sweatpants, looking all sweaty and shit. People reported him walking around in sweats that had urine stains on the front of them. He looked sickly too, and from what we know now, maybe he was already like, dying at this point.
So he shows them around the house, specifically showing off Brittany’s clutter. He shows them all these racks and racks of designer clothes that belonged to Brittany, and they’re like taking over the house. And then you see Brittany’s bathroom, which is completely covered with products. And Simon explains that he has his own bathroom and hasn’t stepped foot in there since Brittany died. Nobody ever cleaned up the bathroom after Brittany’s death.
Throughout the interview, monjack started to slur his words and sound kind of drunk. It was clear in this video that Simon was a fucking wreck.
Linda offered to fly out to be with him, but Simon just kept telling her to give him a few weeks to pull himself together a bit. But they would continue talking on Skype, and she said that she could see him deteriorating before her eyes. So she kept offering to come out, and he kept telling her to give it a few more weeks.
But Simon got increasingly worse. Over the next few months, he would fall into a deep, deep depression. He would rarely get out of bed, rarely shower.
Simon finally agreed to meet up with his mom in New York on April 28th 2010. Only, Simon got sick, like really sick, and couldn’t make it.
He was complaining of numbness and tingling, and he was relying on his oxygen machine more than usual.
He had a fever that ranged from 95 to 105.8, and he was coughing thick black shit and clutching his chest a lot.
5/22/10, Simon spoke to his mother, Linda Monjack on the phone. She said his speech was drawn out and slurred, barely comprehensible. And she makes out that he’s saying he’s sick and needs to go to a hospital. In the background of the phone call, she could hear Brittany’s mom, Sharon, say that he should tell the doctor he has a temperature of 104.
But he never got any medical assistance. Linda says that she pleaded and pleaded with Sharon to take him to the hospital. Sharon denies this though.
Simon was complaining of abdominal and lung pains, and had fainted numerous times throughout the day, but Sharon didn’t get him any help. She later told paramedics that it wasn’t like he was losing consciousness, but just like closing his eyes and becoming unresponsive..
His symptoms were consistent with pneumonia. He had a fever, fatigue, he was sweating and shaking, he had chest pains and shortness of breath.
However, symptoms like stomach pain, nausea, numbness, tingling, and vomiting, are also common in people who have been exposed to household pesticides.
Sharon says she slept in a chair across the room from him to keep an eye on him, but by this point everybody’s already certain that they’re sleeping in the same bed.
According to Sharon, she woke up at 7:30PM on 5/23 to a gurgling noise coming from Simon. She said she saw a brown, foam-like liquid coming out of the sound of his mouth. She said that she was a little concerned but not too much. So she just wiped his mouth and tried to unblock his airway as best as she could. And after about 45 minutes when his condition hadn’t changed, she decided to call for medical attention.
Monjack 911 Call-
So Sharon finally called 911.
I’m going to play you a clip from the 911 call. It's like, Sharon is being kind of difficult. But unfortunately, I think the 911 operator was also maybe a little bit impatient. Anyway, here it is.
-simon 911 call-
I think it’s interesting that the beginning of the call is cut off. I had heard on the Morbid podcast that Sharon shouted “Baby!” at the beginning of the call, but I couldn't corroborate that anywhere. If it’s true though, that’s a weird fucking thing to call your son-in-law.
Later in a Larry King interview, Simon called Sharon “baby” and… ew. I think that’s weird as shit.
After almost 7 minutes, he finally got her to cooperate and follow his instructions.
The emergency help finally got there just under 11 minutes into the phone call and rang the doorbell, so the dispatcher told her to answer the door and come right back. But what she actually did was place him on hold, much to his surprise, and after a little bit of silence, the call ended at about 11 and a half minutes.
According to Sharon, the last time she had seen him responsive was about 5 hours earlier.
Sharon’s timeline is seriously, all over the place.
Simon was pronounced dead at 9:45PM.
An investigator, Kelli Blanchard, got there just after midnight. After she took a look at the body, she questioned Sharon. Sharon told her her recollection of events that night, and also told her that Simon had heart problems and was scheduled for open heart surgery.
However, Simon’s primary doctor, Dr. Kroop, said that Simon had recently had some scans done and there was nothing wrong with his heart.
After questioning Sharon, she took a look around the room. One of the things that caught her eye was a prescription bottle with the name Trevor Williams. It isn’t unusual for celebrities to use an alias for prescriptions to try to keep their business private.
Then she noticed that one of the bedside drawers contained only items belonging to Sharon.
Sharon immediately told her that this was her side of the bed and all the prescription bottles on top of that nightstand belonged to her.
After this got out, it was all over the news that Sharon was sleeping with Simon. Nobody said whether it was sexual, but that’s what was implied. Sharon denied the hell out of it. She was appalled, and thought it was awful that people could accuse her of sleeping with Simon, who she saw as a son, supposedly.
I was thinking about this. And I was wondering if maybe there were a bunch of pill bottles that belonged to Brittany and hadn’t been cleaned up yet, because they were pretty big slobs, so maybe there were a bunch of Brittany’s pills out in the open, and Sharon was just like “THEY’RE MINE” like in a panic moment to cover for Brittany?
BUT, apparently the name on the prescription bottles were “Sharon Murphy” and “Sharon Monjack”
That’s fucking weird, right?
Anyway, Simon’s cause of death was also determined to be pneumonia and anemia.
Interesting. I wonder if Simon also had heavy periods.
A few days later, Linda was able to recover Simon’s phone from the house, and she found that he had recorded the conversation they had had where Sharon says “tell the doctor your temperature is 104.”
She thought it was super strange because, he was barely coherent, barely able to function, and he managed to record the conversation. So she got really creeped out, wondering if he was trying to send some kind of message or if he knew he was going to die.
On the topic of Simon’s belongings, Sharon wouldn’t let Linda take anything of her son’s. There was a painting that Linda knew belonged to Simon, but Sharon said that Simon was broke and had no money.. Which is just kind of weird because, she always said she adored him like her own son.
Ok, so this seems like a good place to end Part 1. I didn’t realize I was gonna have this much research by the end of this but, here we are.
I’ll be right back, literally right back with Part 2 of Brittany Murphy, and that’s where I’m going to talk about all the different theories surrounding Brittany’s death, and I’m gonna. get down to the bottom of it.
Before I go, don’t forget that you can check out brokenlimelight.com to read the transcript to any of my episodes whenever you want to review the details. Do me a favor, if you enjoy this podcast, please tell your friends! Share my tik toks (I’m on tik tok now, it’s didiwestlv), like me on Facebook, comment on these episodes on YouTube. I appreciate your support so, so much. I love the feedback you’ve all been giving me so far.
Ok, here I go.
Stick around for Part 2!