Brittany Murphy, the troubled but popular star of such hit movies as Sin City and Happy Feet, who died at age 32 in 2009, could have been saved if only her mother had acted just one day sooner. That is the conclusion drawn by a new documentary about the final two days in the life of the talented actress, who was born Brittany Anne Bertolotti in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1977.
Murphy died on December 20, 2009, after collapsing in the bathroom of her Los Angeles home. Her death was ruled to be the result of pneumonia and anemia, as well as from overdoses of a combination of legal prescription medications.
In the documentary, Autopsy: The Final Hours of Brittany Murphy, pathologist Richard Shepherd — who has investigated the death of Princess Diana and other celebrities — says that if only Murphy’s mother had called the 911 emergency line 24 hours earlier, when the Clueless star was gravely ill, Brittany Murphy’s life could have been saved.
“By the time Brittany collapsed in her bathroom there was probably nothing the paramedics or hospital staff could have done to save her,” Shepherd says, as quoted in Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper. “But had she been taken to hospital 24 hours earlier and given intravenous drugs, there is a very good chance she would have survived and would still be here today.”
Shepherd said that he did not blame Murphy’s mother, Sharon, who eventually placed the 911 call after Britanny had lost consciousness, for Brittany’s death. Murphy, whose breakthrough role came alongside rapper Eminem in the 2002 film 8 Mile, was in such a groggy and sluggish condition due to her constant reliance on prescription drugs, that her lethargic state may have disguised how terribly sick she actually was.
Shepherd said that Murphy was taking a potent “cocktail” of anti-depressants, painkillers and anti-anxiety medications to which she had become addicted.
In the documentary — set to air on British television Thursday night — Murphy’s mother describes her daughter in her final months of life as a “paranoid” recluse holed up in a poorly kept home filled with “hoarding” debris, that she shared with her husband, Simon Monjack.
Monjack died five months later, also of pneumonia and anemia, which led to speculation that the squalid condition of their Los Angeles mansion may have contributed to their deaths.
Shepherd said that the theory may have some credence, even though there’s no evidence that the filth in which Murphy and Monjack reportedly lived caused Murphy’s death.
“The autopsy report shows they didn’t find any fungi, either in her blood stream or in the sections of lung that they examined under the microscope. So mold and fungi haven’t played a direct role in the death of Brittany,” said the pathologist in the Brittany Murphy documentary. “But living in poor housing conditions like that is likely to have had a debilitating effect and contributed to her infection and death.”