"The Empty Glass," Marilyn Monroe Death Conpiracy Novel To Be Turned Into Film

 J.I. Baker's thriller "The Empty Glass" focuses on a young coroner investigating the actress' death

Marilyn Monroe died from an apparent accidental suicide 50 years ago, now Winkler Films has optioned the rights to J.I. Baker’s novel The Empty Glass, a thriller about a young coroner who investigates the truth behind Marilyn’s much rumored death.

“The Empty Glass reads like a Billy Wilder screenplay. It's got suspense, action and dramatic plot turns that will appeal to great directors, and rich dialogue that will attract great actors,” David Winkler said.

Baker, a contributing editor to Conde Nast Traveler who is making his debut as a novelist, said, "When I was writing The Empty Glass, I very much had Goodfellas in mind structurally, so the fact that Winkler Films has optioned the book makes it feel like it's come full-circle.”

Irwin Winkler is currently in production of The Wolf of Wall Street, being directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Winkler Films is repped by CAA and Baker is repped by InkWell Management.


According to the Marilyn Monroe toxicology report, the actress had 4.5 percent milligrams of barbiturates and 8 percent chloral hydrate in her bloodstream, which means she would have had to swallow around 30 to 40 phenobarbital, or Nembutals. And this doesn’t account for the 13 percent phenobarbital the toxicologist, Ralph Abernethy, found in the liver. That added percent means that Monroe would have had to ingest 50, if not 80, pills by mouth. She would also have had to swallow them quickly, since (if given time) the body rejects the poison, vomiting it up—and yet there was no water in the house…and no water glass on the table initially. In the entire history of forensics, no one has ever died with such high blood concentrations of phenobarb and chloral hydrate as a result of oral ingestion.

Marilyn Monroe’s housekeeper, Eunice Murray, claimed she’d noticed a light under the actress’s door when she went to bed around ten on the night of the actress’s death. Murray went to bed in her own room, adjacent to Monroe’s; they shared a wall. She woke at midnight and had to go to the bathroom, she said, so she went into the hall. She noticed that the light was still on under the door, and she became alarmed. She tried the door, but it was locked from the inside. She knocked: no answer.

But why would she have gone into the hall to use the bathroom when one was accessible through her room? And the carpet pile in Monroe’s room was so thick and high that it made closing the door difficult. This meant that no light could possibly have escaped underneath. So how did Murray know that Monroe’s light was still on?

No water glass was found in the first inspection of Marilyn Monroe’s bedroom—in fact, the water in her hacienda had been turned off because of renovations. And yet the actress allegedly died by swallowing 50-80 pills. The lack of the glass was noted by Jack Clemmons, the first responding officer, but later pictures clearly showed a water glass on the actress’s bedside table. How did that glass get there?

Initially, Marilyn Monroe’s housekeeper, Eunice Murray, claimed she became alarmed when she noticed a light under Monroe’s door around midnight. Despite the fact that Monroe was a chronic insomniac—midnight was hardly late for her—Murray claims she panicked, and called…not the police but rather Monroe’s psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson.

When Greenson arrived at the hacienda, he, too, found Monroe’s bedroom door locked. He went outside, looked through the bedroom window, and saw the actress lying nude on the bed under rumpled bedclothes. She looked “peculiar,” he said. He broke the window with a poker from the living-room fireplace and climbed inside. She was clutching the phone. “She must have been calling for help,” said Greenson, who later called the actress’s physician, Dr. Hyman Engelberg.

But why would Monroe have been calling for help when she knew the housekeeper was right next door? Even stranger, Murray, Greenson, and Engelberg didn’t call the cops until 4:35 a.m. When asked why, they said they had to get permission from the publicity department at 20th Century Fox, where Monroe was making her last film, Something’s Got to Give.

The whole scenario was upended the following morning, when the L.A. Times reported that all the players had mysteriously changed their stories—specifically the time:

Mrs. Monroe’s body was discovered after her housekeeper and companion, Mrs. Eunice Murray, awoke about 3 a.m. and saw a light still burning in the actress’ room.
But the bedroom door was locked. She was unable to arouse [sic] Miss Monroe by shouts and rapping on the door, and immediately telephoned Miss Monroe’s psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson.
Dr. Greenson took a poker from the fireplace, smashed in a window, and climbed into the Monroe bedroom. He took the telephone from her hand and told Mrs. Murray, "She appears to be dead."
He called Dr. Hyman Engelberg, who had prescribed the sleeping pills, and pronounced her dead on his arrival at the house a short time later.
Dr. Engelberg called police at 4:20 a.m. and two officers arrived in five minutes.

From Thomas Noguchi’s memoir, Coroner: “On [the morning of Monroe’s death] I discovered something strange. [Chief Coroner] Dr. Curphey had telephoned the office early to leave me a message. The note on my desk read, ‘Dr. Curphey wants Dr. Noguchi to do the autopsy on Marilyn Monroe.’ A more senior medical examiner would normally have performed the autopsy. And yet Dr Curphey had made a unique call on a Sunday morning assigning me to the job.”

In his autopsy report, coroner Thomas Noguchi noted “dual lividity” on the body of Marilyn Monroe. What does this mean? Livor mortis happens during the first eight hours after death. When the heart stops pumping, red blood cells settle in the lower portion of the body, so that if the body is on its left side, the lividity—a purplish spotting—appears at the bottom of that side. If livor mortis is present on both sides, it’s called “dual lividity.” In Monroe’s case, livor mortis was found on both the back and front of the arms and legs. Which could indicate that the body had been moved.

Why would the body have been moved?

If you ingest more than 12 capsules of barbiturates, refractile crystals will appear in the digestive tract or in the stomach. In his autopsy report, coroner Thomas Noguchi noted: “A smear made from the gastric contents examined under the polarized microscope shows no refractile crystals.”

The smell of pear is characteristic of a chloral hydrate overdose (which is part of what caused Marilyn Monroe’s death) when chloral hydrate is taken by mouth. But the smell wasn’t apparent during the autopsy—another reason to believe that Monroe did not swallow the pills. How, then, were the drugs introduced to her body?

In Marilyn Monroe’s duodenum, the first digestive tract after the stomach, there was “no evidence,” coroner Thomas Noguchi wrote in his report, “of pills. No residue. No coloration.” But Nembutals are called “yellow jackets” because of their distinctive yellow color; it’s virtually inconceivable that she would or could have swallowed 50 to 80 “yellow jackets” without leaving a tell-tale stain in the duodenum.

Ralph Abernethy, the chief toxicologist, delivered analyses on Marilyn Monroe’s blood and liver, but in his autopsy report coroner Thomas Noguchi had requested analyses on the kidney, stomach, urine, and intestines as well—because the analyses of all these organs would show exactly how barbiturates had entered the system. Without specimen analysis, there’s no way of telling how the pills were ingested.

But Abernethy did not deliver analyses on the kidney, stomach, urine or intestines because, he said, it was “obviously a suicide.” (That was clearly not his call to make.) Strangest of all, the tissue samples that were sent to be analyzed “disappeared” from Abernethy’s lab at UCLA. “In the entire history of the L.A. county coroner’s office,” then-DA John Miner said, “there has never been a[n] instance of organ samples vanishing.”

Most of the people who were at Marilyn Monroe’s Brentwood hacienda late at night on August 4 and/or in the early morning hours of August 5—her housekeeper, Eunice Murray; her publicist, Pat Newcomb; her psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson; and her physician, Dr. Hyman Engelberg—mysteriously took “vacations” in the wake of the death.

“The morning after [Marilyn Monroe’s] death,” reporter Joe Hyams is quoted in Anthony Summers’s Goddess, “I contacted a telephone company employee and asked him to copy for me the list of numbers on her tape—a service he was willing to provide for a fee. Within the hour my contact called me back from a pay phone. ‘All hell has broken loose down here,’ he told me. ‘Apparently you’re not the only one interested in Marilyn’s calls. The tape’s disappeared.’ I’m told it was impounded by the Secret Service—I’ve never before heard of the government getting in on the act. Obviously somebody high up ordered it.”

Monroe’s phone records from June and July, which had already been processed and therefore couldn’t be removed from the records, showed a number of calls made to RE7-8200, the number of the Justice Department in Washington, DC.

Many people have claimed that Attorney General Bobby Kennedy couldn’t possibly have been in Los Angeles on August 4 and August 5, the night and/or early morning of Marilyn Monroe’s death. In fact, he had been scheduled to speak at the American Bar Association Conference on Monday, August 6, so he spent the weekend with his wife, Ethel, and kids at the Bates Ranch in Gilroy, 300 miles northwest of Los Angeles. On Saturday, Monroe’s last day, everyone went horseback riding.

On Sunday, Bobby attended mass at 9:30 a.m. in Gilroy. “He was without his usual flashy smile and shook hands woodenly with those that welcomed him,” one paper said. “Perhaps the cares of the administration are weighing heavily on him.”

Perhaps. But pages from flight logs at Conners helicopter at Clover Field in Santa Monica showed the record of two helicopter flights on the afternoon before and night of Monroe’s death. The first, from San Francisco, had landed at 1:16 p.m. on August 4 at Stage 18 of the 20th Century Fox lot near the Beverly Hilton. The second had flown out of Santa Monica just after midnight on August 5, heading to San Francisco.

So what does this mean?

It means that Bobby could have left Gilroy on Saturday, flying from San Francisco to the Fox lot after lunch and then heading to see Monroe. It means he could have returned to Gilroy in time for prayers on Sunday. But Monroe was found dead after midnight. Why did the second flight leave L.A. for San Francisco almost 12 hours after the first flight arrived? Maybe Bobby didn’t get what he wanted from Monroe in the afternoon. So maybe he returned to her house that night—perhaps with Dr. Ralph Greenson, perhaps with Peter Lawford.

In a 1985 BBC interview, Monroe housekeeper Eunice Murray finally dropped the defenses that she, like Lawford, had maintained throughout her life and said, “Why, at my age, do I still have to cover this thing?” She went on to say that Bobby had been in the Brentwood hacienda on the day Monroe died and that a doctor and an ambulance had come while Monroe was still alive.

John Miner was the L.A. district attorney in 1962 and, as such, attended the Marilyn Monroe autopsy. He believed a conspiracy was involved in the actress’s death—specifically that she was given a barbiturate-poisoned enema, which would explain why there was no yellow color in the actress’s duodenem, as well as no odor of pear. It would also explain how the actress ended up with 4.5 percent milligrams of barbiturates and 8 percent chloral hydrate in her bloodstream—which would have meant swallowing 50-80 pills—without water, or a water glass. It would also have explained what Coroner Thomas Noguchi called “marked congestion and purplish discoloration” in the actress’s colon.

Just before his death in 2011, Miner claimed that he had heard—and taken notes on—tapes that Dr. Ralph Greenson had made of Marilyn Monroe before her death, telling Playboy: “Peter [Lawford] had enema sex parties at his Malibu house. [In Dr. Greenson’s tapes] [Monroe] refers to one of them, at which she had the interesting experience of allegedly having the Countess Du Barry’s [an infamous Parisian prostitute] equipment used on her.”

“Hot Shot” is slang for an injection. Was it possible that Marilyn Monroe, already under the influence of pills and drink, was given some sort of surreptitious shot? And was it given to calm her down or with the intent to kill? No one, of course, knows the answer—not even Dr. Thomas Noguchi, the coroner who performed the autopsy. “I found no needle marks,” he wrote in his 1983 memoir, Coroner, “and so indicated on the body diagram in the autopsy report. But, interestingly, I did find evidence which might have indicated violence—and I also marked that evidence on the diagram.”

What he found was a bruise on Monroe’s lower left back. From deputy coroner Ben Fitzgerald’s confessions in The Empty Glass (Blue Rider Press, 2012): “A bruise is a sign of violence. Its color comes from protein enzymes thrown off by white blood cells that try to contain the damage. Those enzymes change from dark purple to brown to yellow over time. The bruise on Miss Monroe’s left hip was dark purple, which means it probably appeared on the night she died. But it was never explained.”

Noguchi himself admitted that, during his examination of comedian John Belushi’s body in 1982, no puncture mark was initially visible—but, when he squeezed the actor’s arm, a tiny spot of blood appeared where an injection had occurred. What would have happened had he done the same thing to Monroe? Maybe he would have discovered a puncture mark—the remains of a hot shot—hidden in the center of that bruise.

Source has a lot of information regarding the last few days of Marilyn's life.