March 3, 1902|
|Died||March 5, 1994
Eunice R. Murray (March 3, 1902 – March 5, 1994) is notable for being Marilyn Monroe's housekeeper who was present in the actress' house at the time she died there. Eunice Murray has been accused by many tabloid authors and LAPD Sergeant Jack Clemmons of being involved in a cover-up of Monroe's death. No one has proven such innuendo to be true or explained what motive she might have had for conspiring with police officials, U.S. government officials or criminals, unless you consider Dr. Ralph Greenson, who urged Marilyn to employ her and made other staffing decisions for the actress, a criminal. Murray's own self-interest and carelessness may be the reason for her sketchy account of Marilyn's last hours.
She was born Eunice Joerndt in Chicago and raised in Urbana, Ohio, as a Swedenborgian. She was educated at the Swedenborgian Urbana School and Academy until she dropped out at age sixteen in 1918. In 1921, she married John Murray and went on to have three children with him: Jaquelyn, Patricia and Marilyn. By the end of the Second World War in 1945, the Murrays were living in Santa Monica in a Monterrey-style five-bedroom house that, after she and her husband separated, Eunice sold to psychiatrist Ralph Greenson in 1946. Greenson and other psychiatrists subsequently hired Eunice Murray as a support worker for some of their most prestigious clients. Murray never identified any psychiatrists for whom she may have worked besides Greenson, nor is it known which prestigious people, if any, she may have helped besides Monroe.
Her husband and brother-in-law
It is not clear what Eunice's husband John Murray did for a living or when he died, although it is known he had a brother named Churchill Murray who joined, sometime before 1962, a group of openly communist Americans who relocated to Mexico. Churchill Murray met Monroe and Eunice Murray during the two women's visit there in 1962, but it is not known whether John Murray was alive at that time, whether he was still married to Eunice or whether his career had any connection to Eunice's interest in introducing Monroe to people who did not work in the movie industry.
In 1961, it was speculated Dr. Ralph Greenson advised Marilyn Monroe, then living in an apartment on North Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills, to recruit Murray as a housekeeper/companion, after having fired several nurses that had been employed to assist her. When Monroe decided to buy a house, it was believed by some that Murray located the small dwelling, which had no closets, on Fifth Helena Drive in Brentwood in which Monroe was to spend the last months of her life. After Monroe moved into it, Murray began spending many nights there, although she kept an apartment in nearby Santa Monica on Ocean Boulevard. Murray began (according to the testimonies of Monroe's friends) reporting to Greenson on the actress' daily activities. Murray accompanied Monroe on her publicized visit to Mexico in February 1962, even introducing the star to some openly communist people south of the border whose association with Monroe caused the FBI to investigate the actress as a possible risk to national security. In addition to Churchill Murray, the group of displaced communists with whom Monroe interacted included Frederick Vanderbilt Field.
Although Monroe was photographed with the Mexican filmmaker Jose Bolanos at the Golden Globe Awards shortly after she returned to Los Angeles from Mexico, author Anthony Summers claimed the group of American communists disliked Bolanos. Eunice Murray and others described Bolanos as a playboy who sought publicity for self-aggrandizement, not for a political cause.
Part of tabloid speculation was that in an attempt to assert her independence from Dr. Ralph Greenson, Marilyn Monroe fired Eunice Murray in May 1962 but shortly afterward rehired her. However, in August 1962 when Murray requested a month's holiday, Monroe granted it, paid her, and one writer added that she asked her not to return. One of Murrays jobs for Marilyn was to drive her to needed appointments. It was learned that Marilyn was shopping for a car to drive herself around Los Angeles. She had discussed with Murray herself about purchasing a white Jaguar XKE convertible. Also, there is evidence she may have purchased a white 1962 Ford Thunderbird convertible shortly before her death, leading credence she had dismissed Murray. After spending Friday night, August 3, 1962 at her apartment, Murray arrived at Monroe's house the next day for her last contracted day of work, just hours before Monroe died. Murray said consistently to police and reporters in 1962 and to author Robert Slatzer in 1973 that she and Monroe, the only people in the house, retired to their separate rooms late Saturday evening with Monroe aware that she would be spending the night. When Murray awoke at approximately 3:00 a.m. and knocked on Monroe's door, the actress did not answer. In a 1975 memoir, Murray changed her story slightly, recalling that the sight of a telephone extension cord running under Monroe's bedroom door caused her, at approximately 3:00 a.m., to use another extension to call Dr. Greenson. (In 1962 she had told police that she had contacted Greenson after becoming alarmed by Monroe's bedroom light shining through the space under the door.) In 1985 Murray made major changes to her story by claiming that Robert Kennedy was in the house at some point on Saturday and that "the doctor" arrived to help Monroe while she was unconscious but alive. Murray never said, however, that Monroe might have wanted her out of the house.
Murray never wavered in her claim that during her telephone conversation with Greenson, he instructed her to go outside and look through Monroe's bedroom window. Murray then supposedly (not verified) saw the actress lying "in an unnatural position," reported this to Greenson and he arrived at the house, broke the window and entered Monroe's room aware that she was dead.
Many days later, when Murray attempted to cash her last paycheck from Monroe, it was declined and marked "deceased." This check, one of the last that Monroe ever wrote on her Roxbury Drive Branch account at City National Bank in Beverly Hills, is today on display at the Hollywood Heritage Museum.
After Monroe's death, Murray lived quietly in various locations in West Los Angeles. From the mid-1960s until the mid-1970s, Murray rented a guest cottage in Santa Monica from relatives of the actor, Richard Cromwell, who had died in 1960. While there in 1973, she was interviewed by Robert Slatzer. In a photograph of them together that is published in his 1974 book The Life and Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe, Murray appears to be laughing.
During her years in the guest cottage she pursued her many interests, including sewing, macrame, horticulture, astrology, and tutoring. In the late 1970s she married Franklin Blackmer, a Swedenborgian minister, and moved east with him to Bath, Maine. After his death, she returned to her family in Southern California, living close to Monroe's former home in Brentwood. A crew from the BBC videotaped Murray talking inside "a rundown apartment in Santa Monica" in 1985, according to Anthony Summers, who was interviewing her. Later, Murray lived with her daughter in Tucson, Arizona, until the daughter's death in July 1993.
After Slatzer found her and talked with her, Eunice Murray published a 1975 memoir, Marilyn: The Last Months (co-authored by Rose Shade) and later talked with other biographers and journalists, including Anthony Scaduto, about Monroe. It was not until she met Anthony Summers, however, that she admitted that Marilyn Monroe had known the Kennedys or that "the doctor" had been in the star's house while she was unconscious but alive. Donald Wolfe, an author who began work on The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe shortly before Murray's death, theorized that everything in her story was a lie, including her retiring for bed late Saturday evening (with Monroe's approval) and the 3:00 a.m. awakening and phone call to Dr. Greenson. Wolfe based the theory on an interview he conducted with a man who had been Murray's son-in-law in 1962 and had participated in the remodeling of Monroe's home that went on for months.
This man, Norman Jeffries, was working on Monroe's kitchen floor on Saturday morning, August 4, 1962 when Monroe walked over to him looking as if she were ill or suffering from insomnia, according to a story he told Anthony Summers in the early 1980s. (Monroe's third husband Arthur Miller said about her after her death, "Sleep was her demon.") In 1992, at which time Jeffries was using a wheelchair in his Arkansas home, he gave Donald Wolfe many more details about August 4, continuing the story with what he recalled about the afternoon and evening. He died in 1993 within a year of his conversation with Wolfe. Jeffries had divorced Murray's daughter many years earlier and remarried another woman. Eunice Murray died in 1994 before any writer could confront her with Jeffries' allegations of a murder and cover-up. Jeffries claimed Murray was innocent of murder but she participated in the cover-up by talking openly to police officials, newspaper reporters and book writers while Jeffries remained silent until Anthony Summers located him.
Donald Spoto, working on a Monroe biography in the early 1990s and Rachael Bell, making a television documentary years later, both speculated without proof that Murray was covering up an inadvertently fatal dose of a sedative that a well-meaning person had given a despondent Monroe by enema. Although Spoto and Bell did not investigate the story together, they agree that Murray had no connection to U.S. government officials or criminals. Barbara Leaming, whose Monroe biography came out within weeks of Wolfe's, does not believe that Eunice Murray played a sinister part in the events surrounding Monroe's death.
When Eunice Murray granted a video interview to Anthony Summers and the BBC television crew in 1985, she initially repeated the same story she had told Robert Slatzer in 1973 and the police in 1962. She apparently noticed the camera crew starting to pack up and then said, "Why, at my age, do I still have to cover this thing?" Unknown to her, the microphone was still on. Murray went on to admit that Monroe had known the Kennedys. She volunteered that on the night of the actress' death, "When the doctor arrived, she was not dead."
Murray died on March 5, 1994, without revealing further details, such as whether "the doctor" was Ralph Greenson, Hyman Engelberg or someone else, but according to the ex son-in-laws story, it was Greenson. Adding, they, he and Murray had been ordered off the property twice. First by U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and actor Peter Lawford, then later in the evening the same two and a Doctor.
- Murray, Eunice. Cursum Perficio. Retrieved 2010-07-20.
- Wolfe, Donald H. The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe. (1998) ISBN 0-7871-1807-9
- Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe, by Anthony Summers, 1985, Guild Publishing, London, ISBN 0-575-03641-9.
- Hitchens, Neal and Riese, Randall. The Unabridged Marilyn: Her Life From A To Z. New York: Congdon & Weed, 1987, p. 88
- Slatzer, Robert. The Life and Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe. New York: Pinnacle Books, Inc., 1975, photo section
- Summers, Anthony. Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe. New York: Onyx, 1986
- summary of Norman Jeffries' role in Marilyn Monroe mystery
- Hitchens, Neal and Riese, Randall. The Unabridged Marilyn: Her Life From A To Z. New York: Congdon & Weed, 1987, p. 127
- Marilyn Monroe: The Biography, by Donald Spoto (1993)
- Marilyn: The Last Months, by Eunice Murray, with Rose Shade (published in paperback by Pyramid Books, 1975)
- The Life and Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe, by Robert Slatzer, published in hardback by Pinnacle Books, Inc., 1974. Includes a 1973 photograph of Murray with Slatzer.