The Marilyn Tapes

Questions Still Remain About The Movie Star's Death

Produced By Nancy Kramer, Taigi Smith and Chris Young

A veil of mystery still shrouds the 1962 death of movie star Marilyn Monroe. While her death was ruled a probable suicide, rumors persist to this day of a cover-up, and even murder.

Peter Van Sant examines newly released documents and audiotapes about the night Marilyn died and talks to the man who spearheaded an official 1982 investigation in the movie star's death.

As the sun came up on Aug. 5, 1962, it seemed so hard to believe Marilyn Monroe was dead at age 36.

How did it happen? Monroe, who had starred in 30 films and was an idol to millions, was now coroner's case No. 81128.

Days after her death, the coroner announced she had died from a self-administered overdose of sedative drugs. He ruled her death a probable suicide.

That explanation has fueled a mystery that has lasted more than 40 years.

"Marilyn Monroe, whatever else her miseries at the time, had not been talking about killing herself," says biographer and journalist Anthony Summers, who has done exhaustive research on the mystery of Monroe's death and was a consultant to "48 Hours."

"The evidence is that there was a very high level of barbiturates in Marilyn Monroe's blood. The question then comes, how did it get there?" Summers asks.

Now, there may be some answers. "48 Hours" has been granted unprecedented access to the only official inquiry that looked at Monroe's death as a potential homicide. The investigation was conducted by the Los Angeles District Attorney's office in 1982. "48 Hours" obtained hundreds of pages of documents and hours of audiotaped interviews with witnesses about what happened the night Marilyn died.

There were many tough questions, but the investigation really came down to just one: Was Marilyn murdered - or did she take her own life.

It was a life that seemed to hold so much promise.

Actor Tony Curtis says he'll never forget the day he met Marilyn on the Universal movie lot. "I call Marilyn and I make a date ... off we went down to Malibu," he recalls.

And just like it would happen later in the movies, he and Marilyn hit it off. Asked if he was in love with her, Curtis says, "I'm in love with her now. I've loved her all these years."

Back then, they were two young actors, hoping to become stars. "We were brand new, looking for a career," says Curtis. "Looking for those diamonds in the sky."

For Marilyn, there were pin-up spreads, and bit parts. Eventually, she did find those diamonds - playing Lorelei Lee in the 1953 movie "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" was a breakthrough role for her.