The film, which blends archival footage with interviews with those who knew the Some Like It Hot star, looks at the circumstances surrounding her death, in 1962, from a barbiturate overdose at the age of 36.
For decades, it has been reported that Monroe was found dead in her bed by her psychiatrist, Ralph Greenson, who broke in through her bedroom window after Monroe’s housekeeper, Eunice Murray, called him in distress, having been unable to get in to check on her.
Monroe’s physician, Hyman Engelberg, was then said to have arrived at the scene. He pronounced Monroe dead before the Los Angeles Police Department was called.
But according to ambulance company owner Walter Schaefer, who is interviewed in The Unheard Tapes, Monroe was actually alive when his driver Ken Hunter arrived to take her to hospital in Santa Monica.
Writer and journalist John Sherlock agreed with Schaefer’s account. He said that Greenson, the psychiatrist, told him that she was alive, and that she died en route to Saint John’s Health Centre.
“She died in the ambulance,” he said. “Then they took her back to the house. [Greenson] told me he was in the ambulance.”
Monroe was famous for her roles as comedic “blonde bombshell“ characters, and she was one of the biggest sex symbols of the 1950s and early 1960s. Her most successful films include The Seven Year Itch (1955) Bus Stop (1956) and Some Like It Hot (1959).
The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes is out now on Netflix.