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What Happened To Brittany Murphy: Inside The Tragic Death Of The Hollywood Star

Brittany Murphy's best movie and TV roles proved she was an incredibly talented performer. With projects like "Clueless," "8 Mile," "Sin City," and "Girl, Interrupted" under her belt, Murphy was a memorable screen presence. Her roles as Luanne Platter on "King of the Hill" and Gloria in "Happy Feet" illustrated that she was also a capable voice actor. There's no telling what she might have achieved if she hadn't unexpectedly passed away on December 20, 2009. Murphy was just 32, and while she died of the combined effects of anemia and pneumonia, several theories of what happened in the last 12 months of Murphy's life and what factors led to her death have surfaced over the years. 

Some of the more left-field suggestions have included foul play or toxic mold in Murphy's home, but while the actor's autopsy report revealed tragic things, they were somewhat more mundane — yet no less complicated. Murphy was in a career slump at the time of her death, and according to the 2021 documentary "What Happened, Brittany Murphy?" her struggles with Hollywood's ruthless demands may have had a role in her passing. After an agent harshly criticized her appearance, Murphy lost a significant amount of weight, which the coroner considered to be the cause of her anemia. However, there were other factors in the tragedy. 

"She was really sick with pneumonia, very anemic, and she was taking medication, and all that combined killed her," Los Angeles County Coroner Assistant Chief Ed Winter told People. "This death could've been preventable. Murphy was planning on seeing a doctor, but she, unfortunately, passed away before she did. This was a case of a person with pneumonia who was anemic and was taking medication when she should've been getting medical treatment."

Murphy's husband died the same way shortly after her

Several of the stranger theories about Brittany Murphy's death revolve around her husband, Simon Monjack. A photographer and filmmaker a few years older than Murphy, Monjack and the actor got married in 2007 despite her friends' concerns about his character. According to "What Happened, Brittany Murphy?" he allegedly started controlling Murphy's life. Many people in the documentary suspect that the actor's prescription medication use may have been heavier than the public knew — and that Monjack may have had a hand in this. In the documentary, people also allege that Monjack spent around $3 million of Murphy's money and habitually told elaborate lies about himself to various people. After Murphy's death, he was very close with her mother, Sharon Murphy, who lived with them. They were seen posing in a photo shoot and giving interviews together.  

The allegations against Monjack make the situation surrounding Murphy's death seem odd, but it's worth noting that the police never considered Monjack a suspect in Murphy's death. However, he would be involved in a final twist in this tragedy months after the actor passed away. On May 23, 2010, the 40-year-old Monjack was also found dead in the same house Murphy died ... and an autopsy found that his cause of death was also a combination of pneumonia and anemia. 

The similarities between Monjack and Murphy's deaths caused speculation that the house itself was the culprit, and exposure to toxic mold had killed them. Sharon Murphy initially rejected this theory but ultimately started embracing the possibility. However, the coroner knew to look for mold and found nothing to support the toxic mold theory during the autopsies.