Brittany Murphy's death ruled an accident

The actress had pneumonia worsened by anemia and had accidentally taken a harmful mix of medications, according to the L.A. County coroner's office. The autopsy report will be released in two weeks.

February 05, 2010|By Richard Winton

Actress Brittany Murphy's sudden death at 32 was due to pneumonia exacerbated by anemia and a harmful combination of medications.

Ending weeks of speculation in the entertainment media over the Dec. 20 death of the "Clueless" and "8 Mile" star, the Los Angeles County coroner announced Thursday that the primary cause was "community-acquired pneumonia," with contributing factors of "iron deficiency anemia" and "multiple drug intoxication."

The drugs involved were prescription and over-the-counter medications she took orally, said Ed Winter, assistant chief at the L.A. County coroner's office. Her death was ruled accidental, he said.

"She was anemic and she wasn't in good health," Winter said

Coroner's officials said the autopsy report would be made public in two weeks and would document the specific drugs involved in Murphy's death. In cases involving multiple drug intoxication, the drugs may not be present in concentrations that are considered lethal, but the interaction with each other can prove harmful.

Murphy was found unconscious and not breathing in her bathroom at her Hollywood Hills home after experiencing what her family says were flu-like symptoms.

In a 911 call, her mother, Sharon, reported finding her daughter Dec. 20. "My daughter's passed out," she told the dispatcher, explaining the actress had been ill, vomiting and complaining of dizziness.

A 911 operator coached her and Murphy's husband, British screenwriter Simon Monjack, on how to perform CPR. "Brittany, please come back," her sobbing mother is heard saying on the 911 tape.

Firefighters who responded to the 8 a.m. call at the home in the 1800 block of Rising Glen Road reported finding Murphy in sudden cardiac arrest. They tried unsuccessfully to revive her on the way to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead about two hours later.

An Atlanta native, Murphy moved to Burbank with her mother when she was 13 and began appearing on TV shows. The petite and free-spirited actress' film break came in the movie "Clueless" (1995), alongside Alicia Silverstone.

A spectrum of roles followed on the big screen, from that of an idle rich girl forced to become nanny in the comedy "Uptown Girls" to the gritty waitress in "Sin City" to a romantic lead opposite hip-hop star Eminem in "8 Mile." She also was featured as the voice of Luanne Platter in the Fox TV show "King of the Hill."

In recent years she struggled to maintain her star status against a backdrop of rumors of health and behavior issues in the tabloid media.

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