Marilyn Monroe’s 1962 death was ruled a “probable suicide,” but questions remain surrounding just how — and why — she died. “The Killing of Marilyn Monroe” podcast analyzes the factors that led to her overdose and implicates the most powerful men in America. Read on for a breakdown of the episodes.
EPISODE 1: GLOBAL ICON AND TRAGIC HEROINE
An introduction to arguably the biggest female star of the 20th century, with a brief overview of her tragically short life, horrific death and lasting legacy. The episode ends with a roundup of the conspiracy theories concerning her possible murder.
EPISODE 2: A FRACTURED CHILDHOOD
Norma Jeane Mortensen was born into poverty, rejected by her mother and dreamed of escaping her life of foster homes, orphanages and repeated sexual abuse. The episode also examines how that tough upbringing shaped her view of — and power over — men.
EPISODE 3: A STAR IS BORN
From her early modeling career to getting her big break in Hollywood, bleaching her hair blonde and changing her name — Norma Jeane became Marilyn Monroe. The roles she landed were small until she utilized the “casting couch,” first becoming the lover of influential Fox executive Joseph Schenck and then Johnny Hyde, vice president of the William Morris Agency.
EPISODE 4: A GLOBAL PIN-UP
Not only did Monroe make a succession of smash hit movies in her glory years, but she also enjoyed relationships with a series of high-profile men — including Frank Sinatra and his rat pack buddy Peter Lawford. During her marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, she was perhaps the most famous — and most lusted-after — woman on the planet.
EPISODE 5: GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES
Monroe learned to use her sexuality to great effect. As a 16-year-old, her first marriage to factory worker Jim Dougherty helped her escape her childhood abuse. She later cultivated relationships with powerful Hollywood execs and directors to help kickstart her career. This chapter examines her marriages and many sexual partners, including Sinatra’s gang, mobster Sam Giancana, Communist sympathizer Miller, psychiatrist Ralph Greenson and the most powerful two men in all America.
EPISODE 6: THE TANGLED WEB — KENNEDYS, THE MOB AND THE FBI
Monroe’s affair with President John F. Kennedy, as well as brother Bobby Kennedy, was to prove the defining feature of her life — and death. It put her at the center of a triangulated power struggle between the president, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI and the mob.
EPISODE 7: OUT, BRIEF CANDLE! — COUNTDOWN TO MURDER
The days leading up to Monroe’s death are crucial to understanding why she died. There was an incident at a party held by Sinatra and Giancana, the apparent increase in her reliance on alcohol and prescription drugs, stepped-up surveillance by Hoover and the growing panic from the Kennedys about the contents of her little red book, a diary full of secrets about her lovers. The men in her life were allegedly invested in the idea of her death.
EPISODE 8: DEATH OF A STAR
This episode examines in meticulous detail the official version of events leading to Monroe’s death, as well as the inconsistencies that show it wasn’t a suicide. No pills or capsules were present in her stomach, there was an absence of vomit, her bruises were omitted from the autopsy report and there was a glass window smashed from inside her room. There was also a four-hour gap between her housekeeper supposedly finding her dead and the cops arriving.
EPISODE 9: THE COVER-UP
The official coroner’s report declared Monroe’s death “probable suicide,” but that was just one part of an alleged cover-up designed to protect her real killer. From the quick and convenient disposal of her organs post mortem to the conspiracy of silence her housekeeper and others close to the star were compelled to keep, the questions keep coming: Where was Peter Lawford that night? How was her psychiatrist (and lover) Dr. Greenson involved? What did Hoover’s — and, separately, private investigator Fred Otash’s — wiretaps capture? Why was that information suppressed? Most crucially, what happened to Monroe’s little red book?
EPISODE 10: WHODUNIT? THE SUSPECTS
The various conspiracy theories surrounding her death are examined, picking apart each of the suspects one by one. Was it a mob hit ordered by Giancana in order to get at JFK? Was J. Edgar Hoover behind it? Were the CIA spurred into silencing her? Or, could it have been the Kennedys themselves?
EPISODE 11: THE CASE AGAINST THE KENNEDYS
This episode outlines exactly how — and why — the murder happened. Increasingly concerned about Monroe’s apparent erratic behavior and the thought she might go public about her affairs with the Kennedy brothers, Bobby was allegedly sent to L.A. to end it. Whether he turned up at Monroe’s home that night with the intention of killing his lover will never be known — but, when she wouldn’t give up the little red book, things allegedly turned violent. The podcast reveals that a sedative was administered by Dr. Greenson; it didn’t work. A pillow was placed over her head, a further shot given and then a fatal injection, directly into her heart. Lawford was contacted to get Bobby away and modify the scene to look like a suicide before the police were called.
EPISODE 12: JUSTICE FOR MARILYN
In this roundup of the entire series, the episode examines what action has taken place in the 57 years since Monroe’s death, including the 1982 “threshold investigation” and the multitude of books since. The subsequent lives and deaths of JFK, RFK, Giancana, Hoover, Greenson, Sinatra and Lawford will also be examined for clues. Finally, the podcast asks: Will the mounting evidence and the newly released FBI files give the L.A. County district attorney’s office cause to think once again over the death of Hollywood’s most tragic star?