On August 4, 1962, John F. Kennedy was president and the stunning news out of Hollywood was that superstar Marilyn Monroe had apparently taken her own life. But was that the whole story?
48 Hours has obtained hundreds of pages of never-before-seen documents as well as audiotaped interviews from the Los Angeles District Attorney's office that shed new light on what may have happened the night Monroe died. The internal files have been closed for 24 years.
Correspondent Peter Van Sant reports for 48 Hours Mystery this Saturday, April 22 at a special time, 8 p.m. ET/PT.
In 1982, amid a public outcry concerning allegations of conspiracy and a cover-up following Monroe's death, the L.A. District Attorney was forced to re-examine the evidence.
Using the California Public Records Act, 48 Hours filed a petition and obtained 309 pages of internal documents and approximately 5½ hours of audiotaped interviews with key sources. Included are accounts from eyewitnesses who were believed to be in Monroe's bedroom the night she died.
In one interview, Dr. Hyman Engelberg, Monroe's personal physician, describes the moment he entered Monroe's room for the last time.
"She was sprawled over the bed and she was dead. I took out my stethoscope and listened to make sure her heart wasn't beating," Engelberg said.
The doctor said he called police perhaps half an hour after his arrival. Asked about the reason for the delay, Engelberg told the investigator, "We were stunned. We were talking over what happened."
Engelberg is also heard telling the investigator he prescribed only one of the two sedative drugs that the Los Angeles County Coroner said killed Marilyn:
"I knew nothing about chloral hydrate," the doctor told the investigator. Engelberg says the only prescription he wrote for the movie star was one for Nembutal.
A top forensic pathologist, Dr. Steven Karch, tells 48 Hours the toxicology report is "incomplete" and the investigators' reports contain "inconsistencies."
He tells Van Sant that investigators should not have ruled out murder. "I would classify this as an undetermined cause of death," he says.
The tapes reveal that the investigation also looked into a sensational accusation that Marilyn was injected in the heart the night she died.
The broadcast also examines Monroe's reported involvement with President Kennedy, and his brother, Robert Kennedy, then the U.S. Attorney General. Newly released FBI documents headed "Marilyn Monroe: Security Matter," indicate that she was considered a potential security risk.
Among those interviewed for the program include former Assistant District Attorney Mike Carroll, who headed the 1982 investigation and speaks about it in depth for the first time.
The report also includes interviews with Hugh Hefner, Tony Curtis, and Monroe's close friend, Jeanne Carmen.
Produced By Nancy Kramer/Taigi Smith/Chris Young