In December 2009, actress Brittany Murphy collapsed at her home, which she shared with her husband of two years, Simon Monjack, and her mother, Sharon Murphy. The Clueless actress was taken to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead just hours later. The shocking death of the 32-year-old star was ruled to be natural. According to the Los Angeles County coroner, the primary cause of Murphy’s death was pneumonia, with secondary factors of iron deficiency anemia.
Monjack also passed away from pneumonia five months and three days after the star’s death at age 40.
Monjack’s appearance into Murphy’s life came as a surprise to the 8 Mile star’s friends and costars, as they rarely made public appearances together before their marriage.
“We were all scared and freaked out like who was this guy?” Kathy Najimy, Murphy’s King of the Hill costar said in the HBO Max documentary What Happened, Brittany Murphy?
Monjack, who billed himself as a screenwriter and producer, having just two credits on his IMDB page, told Larry King in February 2010 that he had initially met Murphy when she was just 17 when he was photographing her.
“We kept in touch for all the years … We just became friends,” Monjack said at the time. “It was friendly for years … She was infectious, an infectious angel.”
Prior to beginning their romantic relationship in 2006, Murphy dated Ashton Kutcher and was engaged to Joe Macaluso, a key grip, from 2005 to 2006. Monjack was married to British TV personality Simone Bienne from 2001 to 2006. He was also engaged to Elizabeth Ragsdale, who alleges Monjack left her pregnant before dating Murphy.
In April 2007, Monjack and Murphy held a private wedding ceremony at their home. Following their marriage, coworkers believe Monjack became the one in “control,” possibly causing Murphy’s career to suffer by making her difficult to work with.
After Murphy’s death, Monjack requested there be no autopsy; the screenwriter also requested money for a foundation in Murphy’s name, which was shut down when it failed to file for nonprofit status and donors’ money was returned.
Monjack’s legal problems also surfaced at the time: the producer had warrants for his arrest in Virginia in 2005 for credit card fraud and theft charges, the New York Post reported, however, the charges were not pursued. In 2006, a New York mortgage firm sued Monjack, who had been evicted from four homes, for $470,000; his ex, Bienne, also sued him in 2007 for $63,000. The same year, he faced deportation due to an expired visa.