March 3, 1902
Chicago, Illinois U.S.
|Died||March 5, 1994
Tucson, Arizona, U.S.
|Known for||Housekeeper of Marilyn Monroe at the time of her death|
|Spouse(s)||John Murray (March 3, 1924 - 1950)
|Children||Marilyn (b. 1924)
Patricia (b. 1926)
Jacqueline (b. 1926)
Eunice R. Murray (March 3, 1902 – March 5, 1994) was an American who was either a housekeeper or unlicensed assistive personnel who was notable for being present at Marilyn Monroe's 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. Dr. Ralph Greenson urged Monroe to employ Murray and made other staffing decisions for the actress. Murray's own self-interest and carelessness may be the reason for her sketchy account of Monroe'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 1924, she married John Murray and went on to have three children with him: Jacqueline, 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
Monroe biographer Donald Wolfe claimed in 1998 that Murray's husband John had been a left-wing labor activist who worked with labor unions in the United States during the Great Depression in the 1930s. It is not clear what John Murray did for a living when he and Eunice purchased their Santa Monica house or at the time Eunice sold it to Dr. Ralph Greenson, which was 1946. It is not clear when John Murray died. 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 Marilyn Monroe and Eunice Murray during the two women's visit there in 1962. (Monroe's entourage for the trip included others as well.) It is not known, however, if John Murray was alive at that time, whether he was still legally married to Eunice or whether his left-wing career had any connection to Eunice's introducing Monroe to left-wingers, including Frederick Vanderbilt Field, who did not work in the movie industry, which Eunice was known to have done.
It has been speculated that in 1961, 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 in early 1962, it was believed by some that Murray located the small dwelling, which had very few closets, on Fifth Helena Drive in Brentwood where 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 for herself 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 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.
One of Murray's jobs for Monroe was to drive her to necessary appointments. It was learned that Monroe was shopping for a car to drive herself around Los Angeles. She had discussed with Murray the possible purchase of a white Jaguar XKE convertible, which has been categorized as a Jaguar E-Type. Also, there is evidence Monroe may have purchased a white 1962 Ford Thunderbird convertible shortly before her death, lending credence to the allegation that she had dismissed Murray.
In early 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.
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.
An English author named Keith Badman wrote the book Marilyn Monroe: The Final Years, which supports the theory that Monroe was by herself in her room when she voluntarily swallowed an accidental overdose of barbiturates, though the book details several errors in judgment that Murray and Ralph Greenson made over a period of months. For example, according to Badman, within moments of Monroe's final entry into her bedroom on Saturday evening, August 4, Murray became absorbed in watching a syndicated rerun of a two-year-old episode of the American television series Perry Mason on the living room television set. While she tried to give Perry Mason her full attention, she also could hear the sounds of Frank Sinatra's music coming from a record player in Monroe's bedroom. According to Badman, the cacophony of the sounds from both machines prevented Murray from hearing telltale cries for help that many barbiturate overdose victims make.
After the syndicated telecast of Perry Mason ended, Murray allegedly retired to her room, fell asleep then awoke either at midnight or at approximately 3:00 a.m., according to differing accounts. She knocked on Monroe's door, the actress did not answer, and Murray became alarmed by light that shined through the space under the closed door. Murray allegedly worried about how Monroe could be sound asleep, unable to respond to Murray's knock, if a light was on near Monroe's eyes. 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 to be out of the house or that Monroe asked for her resignation.
Murray never wavered in her claim that during her telephone conversation with Dr. Ralph 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 awakening and phone call to Dr. Greenson, which had been estimated both at midnight and 3:00 a.m. 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. Neither does Keith Badman, who admits that a private detective and LAPD officials learned of Monroe's overdose immediately after it happened and trespassed in her house to remove evidence of her affairs with both Kennedy brothers.
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 BBC 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. According to the story that Norman Jeffries gave Donald Wolfe in 1992, the doctor was Greenson. Jeffries explained that he and Murray had been ordered off Monroe's Fifth Helena Drive property twice, first in the afternoon by Robert Kennedy and actor Peter Lawford—Lawford allegedly gave them money to buy food at a store to which they had to walk because they had no car—then later in the evening by Kennedy, Lawford and one of Monroe's doctors
- 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
- Badman, Keith. Marilyn Monroe: The Final Years. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin's Press, 2010, pp. 264-267
- Badman, Keith. Marilyn Monroe: The Final Years. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin's Press, 2010, pp. 53-250
- Badman, Keith. Marilyn Monroe: The Final Years. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin's Press, 2010, pp. 261-263
- Hitchens, Neal and Riese, Randall. The Unabridged Marilyn: Her Life From A To Z. New York: Congdon & Weed, 1987, p. 261
- 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.