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Girl, Interrupted
December 20, 2009 4:12 PM   Subscribe

Girl, Interrupted: The Life and Death of Brittany Murphy "Part of the shock surrounding Murphy's death is clearly related to her age, though it may also be attributed to the fact that Murphy has been in the public eye for over 15 years, starting out in Hollywood when she was 14... It's something we've watched progress this entire decade: young women who are held up as the next big thing (Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears) and then brushed aside or openly mocked after they no longer fit an expected mold. It is both a story of self-destruction and mass-destruction, the business of creating and destroying a star; sometimes it's caused by internal forces, and sometimes it's fed by the rest of the world."
posted by ocherdraco (139 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
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Surprised at how young she was.
posted by msbutah at 4:19 PM on December 20, 2009


Wait, Luann's dead? :(
posted by Eideteker at 4:23 PM on December 20, 2009 [13 favorites]


It's a good piece, but I'm feeling a little conflicted about Jezebel posting it. My impression is that they frequently publish stories that foster the atmosphere the piece is condemning, though I haven't looked at the site in a while. Has there been an editorial shift?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:23 PM on December 20, 2009


This is one of the more thoughtful obits of a celebrity that I've read. Good work being measured Jezebel.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:24 PM on December 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I worked with Brittany on King of The Hill, and she was always such a lovely, kind soul. She never had ego, or drama. I was so sad to hear of her death.
posted by generic230 at 4:24 PM on December 20, 2009 [22 favorites]


.

One of the most biting, vicious, insightful pieces of social commentary I've seen on tv in the past decade dealt with this very process of the creation and destruction of the pop celebrity. Sick to see it happening over and over again, Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse, Lindsay Lohan, etc.

Here's another . for the next one.
posted by Ndwright at 4:26 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Poor Elroy Kleinschmid, his Luanne is gone.
posted by NoMich at 4:26 PM on December 20, 2009


Brittany starred in one of my favorite (and most disturbing) made-for-TV movies, Victim of the Night. RIP.
posted by Oriole Adams at 4:28 PM on December 20, 2009


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posted by mmmbacon at 4:28 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really liked her in 8 Mile; sad to see her go so young.
posted by Forktine at 4:33 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


The article is serious hagiography, and feels out of place on Jezebel. The author tries to place some blame on the Hollywood starlet machine, but Murphy had a live career until she started trashing it herself.

All we know is that a woman who gave much of her life and herself to millions of strangers through her performances is dead at the age of 32

I don't understand this attitude. She didn't give us anything, she sold us entertainment, was really well compensated for it, and could have continued doing so indefinitely if she hadn't let a diva-complex get in her way. It's not like she was a method actor who killed herself going the extra mile to turn in an amazing performance.

and that is truly a tragedy.

No, it's just sad, as in "that's too bad, I wish it were otherwise" sadness. Whether it was a drug-induced heart attack or a previously undetected condition, her death is cause for sadness, not a reflection on hubris and the injustice of the universe. The word "tragedy", like the word "hero", has had its specific meaning eclipsed by its general use as an amplifier of the basic emotion it's supposed to evoke.
posted by fatbird at 4:36 PM on December 20, 2009 [74 favorites]


Our obsession with celebrity death, which seems like an extreme extension of a gossip culture, may itself mirror the origins of that gossip culture in the celebrity obituaries of the 18th Century. (Abstract of academic article.)
posted by ocherdraco at 4:40 PM on December 20, 2009 [9 favorites]


I was shocked to find out she was the girl in both Clueless and Girl, Interrupted. She didn't resemble her old photos at all.
posted by The Whelk at 4:41 PM on December 20, 2009


Ugh. Reading about this led me to TMZ, which I'd never visited before. The comments there make me very, very sad. Anonymous people on the Internet seem to have an infinite capacity for mean-spiritedness and bullshit.

Goodnight, Luann, goodnight, Tai. I'll be dreaming of Manger Babies tonight.
posted by jbickers at 4:42 PM on December 20, 2009 [17 favorites]


Sick to see it happening over and over again, Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse, Lindsay Lohan, etc.

That SNL spoof was vicious. Why pile on like that to someone who is obviously going through a hard time? I think that Craig Ferguson's monologue on Britney applies.
posted by empath at 4:42 PM on December 20, 2009 [16 favorites]


Some people's comments on this are really sickening. It really doesn't matter whether she was a saint to work with or a fucking asshole when it's stacked up against her being dead at 32. I realize this is someone who was a public figure, et cetera, but she's not an abstraction; she's a young woman found dead in her shower by her own mother. This really may be an if-you-don't-have-anything-nice-to-say-STFU occasion.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:45 PM on December 20, 2009 [44 favorites]


I'd just like to note that the tone of the article isn't all out of place on Jezebel. I read that site almost everyday and over there everything is a cause for a reflection on hubris, the injustice of the universe, and/or the patriarchy-driven media machine.
posted by amethysts at 4:47 PM on December 20, 2009 [10 favorites]


other site's comment sections make me step back, shiver, and hug Metafilter even harder.
posted by The Whelk at 4:47 PM on December 20, 2009 [23 favorites]


she's a young woman found dead in her shower by her own mother

And doesn't belong on the front page of Metafilter.

The article is crap. She died young, newsflash - plenty of middling actresses live to be 90.

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posted by fire&wings at 4:49 PM on December 20, 2009


f&w, you know full well where metatalk is.
posted by empath at 4:54 PM on December 20, 2009 [24 favorites]


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Just watched The Ramen Girl last week and loved it. I laughed out loud quite a few times.
posted by Roger Dodger at 4:56 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow. I always really liked her. And she was fantastic in Sin City.

Sad.

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posted by lunit at 4:56 PM on December 20, 2009


Aside from everything else let's please not have the "should we talk about this person's death" derail yet the fuck again. It's a shocking death, even to people like me who were only vaguely aware she was still working. Also, I can't for the life of me understand how people see the article linked in the FPP as a hagiography. It's pretty harsh on the downward arc of her career.
posted by Kattullus at 4:57 PM on December 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


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posted by Ber at 4:59 PM on December 20, 2009


I really liked her in Clueless and didn't even know she'd been in anything else. I guess I'm not the target audience for "young women who are held up as the next big thing".

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posted by DU at 4:59 PM on December 20, 2009


Luann was her best role, and so many people don't even know she played it.

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posted by gaspode at 5:00 PM on December 20, 2009 [8 favorites]


That SNL spoof was vicious. Why pile on like that to someone who is obviously going through a hard time?

Well, that question applies to about half of SNL's sketches.
posted by smackfu at 5:01 PM on December 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


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I loved her in Clueless and King of the Hill.
posted by TooFewShoes at 5:02 PM on December 20, 2009


I just saw her in the first made-for-TV movie put out by the "new" SyFy channel, Megafault.

I had commented to a couple of friends how out of it she seemed through the whole thing - this is just sad. Poor girl.
posted by HopperFan at 5:03 PM on December 20, 2009


We lost a coworker at that same age this past May. We still don't know the true cause but are pretty sure it was her drug use.

None of that kept us from mourning her, believe me.

And it really doesn't matter why this actress died either. It is still a shock to lose someone young, and it doesn't matter whether she was/was not a diva, or whether she had an underlying health problem or not....I just know that no mother should ever, EVER have to lose a child, or worse, be the one to FIND that child dead in the shower.

If you have any compassion at all, now's the time to bring it out and make use of it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:04 PM on December 20, 2009 [23 favorites]


f&w, you know full well where metatalk is.


No offense to ocherdraco, but: I was debating starting a MeTa, but I wrote the mods instead. Three hours ago, a single link to TMZ got deleted. This Jezebel story was posted as a comment in that deleted thread. Now it's OK as a FFP? It's not 'is this person obit-worthy?'
posted by fixedgear at 5:04 PM on December 20, 2009


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posted by jonp72 at 5:09 PM on December 20, 2009


I really liked her in Spun.

It is really too bad she had to go so soon.
posted by birdherder at 5:09 PM on December 20, 2009


My friend used to date her; she sort of broke his heart.
posted by infinitywaltz at 5:12 PM on December 20, 2009


Agreed. RIP, but if there's an FPP in this woman's death, this is not it.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:12 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I posted it because I felt that it was the only article about her death that went beyond trumpeting the bare facts of it to examining the event within a larger look at popular culture. I was more interested in the way that, as a culture, we seem to have come up with a script for what happens when a celebrity dies, and that script is largely unaffected by the person who has died. Whether it's Farrah Fawcett, or Michael Jackson, or Heath Ledger, or Brittany Murphy, the process is the same. For many celebrities (including Ms. Murphy), it's just an extension of the way gossip magazines cover their lives: without any regard to their actual body of work, and with no respect and no holds barred as regards their personal lives.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:13 PM on December 20, 2009 [14 favorites]


Meta
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:14 PM on December 20, 2009


If you want to discuss whether this is a good FPP or not, this thread is not the place to do it in.

Metatalk is over here.
posted by empath at 5:16 PM on December 20, 2009


So we have this:

It is both a story of self-destruction and mass-destruction, the business of creating and destroying a star; sometimes it's caused by internal forces, and sometimes it's fed by the rest of the world.

...directly followed by this:

We don't know yet why Brittany Murphy is gone; for all we know, her death may have nothing to do with any of the Hollywood rumors surrounding the last few years of her life. All we know is that a woman who gave much of her life and herself to millions of strangers through her performances is dead at the age of 32, and that is truly a tragedy.

What a load of horseshit. Nice to see how the absence of pretty much any concrete facts about Murphy's death isn't stopping Jezebel from spinning this into their own Frances Farmer-esque cautionary tale.
posted by dhammond at 5:18 PM on December 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


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She was excellent in Sin City. 32 is just too young.
posted by porn in the woods at 5:19 PM on December 20, 2009


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posted by bearwife at 5:20 PM on December 20, 2009


Just watched The Ramen Girl last week and loved it. I laughed out loud quite a few times.

Ooohhh... that was her. She felt so out of place in that movie. She seemed like a totally wrong casting choice although she did well enough.

Anyway, no one deserves to die at 32. A food actress or bad, this was too soon.

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posted by GuyZero at 5:20 PM on December 20, 2009


That SNL spoof was vicious. Why pile on like that to someone who is obviously going through a hard time?

Looks like it was pulled from Hulu.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 5:23 PM on December 20, 2009


I never understand that "THEY GAVE US EVERRRRYYYYTHING" line that always comes up when a celebrity dies young or tragically. No, they gave us a movie and we gave them MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. It's not like they volunteered to turn in earth shaking performances.
posted by GilloD at 5:25 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


GilloD and others about the "they gave us everything" - I don't know, it's probably that the creative process, of which acting is a part, is very personal for a lot of people. You ARE giving a lot of yourself when you do it, and then to be treated viciously or as disposable is pretty fucking hard to take, even if you are supposed to be a professional. And, yes, they get money, but that's in return for never being able to lead a normal life. That's a pretty fucked up price we extract to watch someone on TV or in a movie.

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Thinking of the Manger Babies tonight indeed.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:32 PM on December 20, 2009 [7 favorites]


What dhammond said. Pure speculation and gossip mongering, masked as concern. Ghoulish indeed. They should be ashamed of themselves; but there's no profit in waiting for facts, or having a modicum of genuine respect.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:32 PM on December 20, 2009


A food actress or bad, this was too soon.

THESE TWO POSSIBILITIES ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE! she was bad as a food actress in Ramen Girl...
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:33 PM on December 20, 2009


Goodnight Luann.

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posted by Sailormom at 5:35 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


By chance I saw a picture of her in Us magazine this week (honest!) and thought she looked horribly thin. Whatever the cause of death, it's way too young.

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posted by mattbucher at 5:36 PM on December 20, 2009


I don't know, it's probably that the creative process, of which acting is a part, is very personal for a lot of people. You ARE giving a lot of yourself when you do it, and then to be treated viciously or as disposable is pretty fucking hard to take, even if you are supposed to be a professional. And, yes, they get money, but that's in return for never being able to lead a normal life. That's a pretty fucked up price we extract to watch someone on TV or in a movie.

You aren't "giving" a lot of yourself. You're selling it. And you don't have to do that. There are plenty of small-town theater troupes and whatnot that won't at all impede an actor's ability to "lead a normal life." If a "normal life" is what you want, Hollywood is clearly not the answer. Celebrity's aren't martyrs. (And that's glossing over the assertion that acting in team-scripted, zillion-take-filmed, big budget dumb mooovys is somehow "the creative process," a contention I disagree with anyway).
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:36 PM on December 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm always bemused by those who profess to have strong positive or negative feelings about celebrities.
posted by signal at 5:39 PM on December 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


I guess we're just going to disagree. You may get paid for acting, but for many actors, beyond the getting paid, is that the creation is personal. And it's easy for us to sit here and say, you don't have to do that, but we're not the ones driven to do this for a living. Some people are driven to, I don't know, bake cakes and they get paid to do that; some people are driven to create, and they do that.

It's a different conversation, but I find all of this "they didn't have to be paid to do this thing they loved" bit very very bizarre in the face of our culture's constant exhortations to find something you love to do and get paid for it. I guess that's fine as long as it's cake or being a personal organizer, or trading stock?
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:39 PM on December 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Dont miss Jezebel's equally insightful sidebar article, Celebrities React To Brittany Murphy's Death On Twitter, especially if you want to know how Jessica Simpson feels about it.

This is trash.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 5:42 PM on December 20, 2009


I'm always bemused by those who profess to have strong positive or negative feelings about celebrities.

Is this something I'd have to own a TV to know about?
posted by knave at 5:42 PM on December 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


What was the context of the SNL skit? I saw it but never really understood why they were attempting to make fun of her.....I never thought of her to have a diva reputation. She was Luanne! She could actually act. She will be missed.
posted by skepticallypleased at 5:44 PM on December 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Young people shouldn't die. There, I said it.
posted by Weebot at 5:46 PM on December 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


It's something we've watched in progress throughout this entire decade: young women who are held up as the next big thing (Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears) and then brushed aside or openly mocked after they no longer fit an expected mold.
That's a bit rich coming from a gawker outlet.
posted by delmoi at 5:46 PM on December 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Some people are driven to, I don't know, bake cakes and they get paid to do that; some people are driven to create, and they do that.

Yes, but like I said, there are plenty of ways to act that allow people to live normally. Your argument only makes sense if Hollywood were the only outlet for actors.

It's not.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:47 PM on December 20, 2009


I'm always bemused by those who profess to have strong positive or negative feelings about celebrities.

It's more like 'positive or negative feelings about the cult of celebrity.'
posted by fixedgear at 5:48 PM on December 20, 2009


And cant' believe my awful grocer's'ses' apostrophe a few posts up. Yikes.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:49 PM on December 20, 2009


So who else wasn't exactly sure who this was, and is now ashamed to admit they hit up Wikipedia just to make sure her death isn't going to disrupt any television shows they watch or movies they were looking forward to?
posted by floam at 5:49 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Looks like the SNL sketch got pulled from Hulu, anyone have a mirror?
posted by mike_bling at 5:54 PM on December 20, 2009


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posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:54 PM on December 20, 2009


For anyone curious about why people care about celebrity deaths, I think the gripping part is that they are experiences with death that are a comfortable distance from us. We are able to think about the things that we might not be able to think very coherently about if the death was of someone much closer to us.
posted by autoclavicle at 5:55 PM on December 20, 2009 [7 favorites]


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posted by MXJ1983 at 5:56 PM on December 20, 2009


This discussion about life and death in the public eye reminds me of Charlie Brooker thing about the life and death of Jade Goody, an extreme example of death in the public eye. Actually I had no idea she was dead until I saw the clip.
posted by delmoi at 5:57 PM on December 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


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posted by liza at 5:58 PM on December 20, 2009


I always thought she was cool. Kind of a crush.


RIP

.
posted by djduckie at 6:12 PM on December 20, 2009


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posted by LMGM at 6:20 PM on December 20, 2009


I've loved this girl in nearly every film I've seen her in - Freeway, Clueless, Girl Interrupted, Spun... to name a handful. There was something really offbeat and slightly insane about her, and I am devastated that something so *different* is now lost. She wasn't just some celebrity shrinking on the cover of a tabloid magazine to me, she was an extremely talented character actor that ended up shaping a lot of my interest in film growing up as a teenager. I will watch anything I pass with her name attached to it, just to see what she pulls out of her hat. It's been sad watching her lose her grip over the years (but not her spirit) and sucuumb to whatever she thought Hollywood and her career wanted to be (thin, married, a leading lady). But that doesn't detract from the fact that she has an extreme strong back catalogue of work, and that she deserved every iota of praise heaped upon her for her achievements. Brittany Murphy might have been a flawed character, but that was exactly the reason I enjoyed her work. I am so so sad that this is the end for her. I hope she's at least at peace.

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posted by saturnine at 6:25 PM on December 20, 2009 [25 favorites]


An official cause of death may not be determined for some time, since toxicology tests will be required, but "it appears to be natural," Winter said. He said an autopsy was planned for Monday or Tuesday."
posted by Jilder at 6:35 PM on December 20, 2009


The first film I ever saw where I was aware of who she was, was a wonderfully fun martial-arts movie called Drive, in which she played a crazy, bored girl named Deliverance who gets wrapped up in a giant gunfight which destroys her parents motel. She is giggling the whole time.

I've seen her do a lot of films since which I have greatly enjoyed, but that early, goofy roll was and will always be my favorite piece of her work.

.
posted by quin at 6:37 PM on December 20, 2009


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posted by cavalier at 6:43 PM on December 20, 2009


Nobody who worked with her ever had a bad thing to say about her (and I'm not talking about now; I'm talking about while she was working). She was known as a hard worker, a non-diva, and a good person. IMO, she was a good actor, and even if she had been the opposite of everything I've just said, 32 is still too young.

For those arguing that acting is "selling" something and not "giving" something of yourself, I suggest you try six months of a reputable acting class, and report back. You don't have to go to the extremes that some actors go to, but if you're any good at all, it is a personal, emotional, and sometimes draining experience to act.

She'll be missed by her friends and family as a loved one, and she'll be missed as an actor for the unanswerable question of what might have been.

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posted by tzikeh at 6:48 PM on December 20, 2009 [13 favorites]


The author tries to place some blame on the Hollywood starlet machine, but Murphy had a live career until she started trashing it herself.

She didn't give us anything, she sold us entertainment, was really well compensated for it, and could have continued doing so indefinitely if she hadn't let a diva-complex get in her way.


Right, because if there's one thing Hollywood's notorious for, it's indefinite job security for young actresses. That is, until the ungrateful bitches start letting it go to their heads. But that's their own fault.

You aren't "giving" a lot of yourself. You're selling it. And you don't have to do that. There are plenty of small-town theater troupes and whatnot that won't at all impede an actor's ability to "lead a normal life." If a "normal life" is what you want, Hollywood is clearly not the answer. Celebrity's aren't martyrs.

Brittany Murphy was fourteen when she got into this business. Imagine you're a fourteen year old girl being offered stardom, riches, excitement, acceptance. Would you have the foresight to turn that down? Would you really have known what you were getting yourself into?

Fame is basically acceptance - or at least attention - on a massive scale. The insidiousness of the "Hollywood Starlet Machine" (although this certainly applies to more than starlets) is that it deliberately seeks out those types of personalities who thrive on that attention, who live and die by it, who deflate and suffocate when it isn't there. And it reinforces to you, every single day, that your self-worth is directly proportional to the number of people who know your name. Can you imagine being under that sort of pressure, especially as a young woman? Is it really so surprising that so many of them start to crack?

Celebrity is one giant mindfuck, especially for women. I am baffled by the attitude of, "Oh whatever, she brought it on herself, she didn't realize what she had, which was more than she deserved." Come on. Fame and fortune can be more of a curse than a blessing. You can't have graduated kindergarten without being exposed to that unfortunate truth.
posted by granted at 7:07 PM on December 20, 2009 [15 favorites]


I'm really curious to see that SNL bit from a few weeks ago. Has anyone found a mirror?
posted by delmoi at 7:07 PM on December 20, 2009


I had a real crush on this one. She bore a very strong resemblance to the one girl I've truly loved. RIP.
posted by autodidact at 7:15 PM on December 20, 2009


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posted by robtf3 at 7:16 PM on December 20, 2009


I'm really curious to see that SNL bit from a few weeks ago. Has anyone found a mirror?

I watched it earlier today and you really aren't missing anything. It's just a new castmember saying crazy things in a breathy voice.
posted by moxiedoll at 7:16 PM on December 20, 2009


Oh, wow. I just realized just who this chick was.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:36 PM on December 20, 2009


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I thought "Uptown Girls" was a great movie. There. I said it.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 7:36 PM on December 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


For King of the Hill fans: Many months ago I stumbled across this wonderful "Best of Luanne" mini-clip show on YouTube.
posted by ErikaB at 7:52 PM on December 20, 2009 [9 favorites]


"A 911 call was made at 8:00 AM from a home in Los Angeles that is listed as belonging to her husband, Simon Monjack, the Los Angeles City Fire Department tells TMZ.

We're told Murphy was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where she was pronounced dead on arrival. Her time of death was listed as 10:04 AM.
"

Does anyone else think it's odd her mother found her in the shower at 8am, while in her husband's apartment?

Aww, 32 is way too young. Her sudden death seems especially unfair after she worked so hard to climb the Hollywood ladder from such a young age. And she was beautiful too. Never really thought her roles or acting were of any great caliber but enjoyed her acting nonetheless in Clueless and unexpectedly in The Ramen Girl.

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posted by nickyskye at 7:59 PM on December 20, 2009


The SNL skit was really weird to me, because at the time it seemed like it had come out of nowhere, like they had just picked a random celebrity to call out for being flighty.
posted by drezdn at 8:02 PM on December 20, 2009


I really liked her as Tai in Clueless. I hope her family and friends are doing ok.
posted by harriet vane at 8:05 PM on December 20, 2009


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posted by brundlefly at 8:05 PM on December 20, 2009


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posted by chunking express at 8:12 PM on December 20, 2009


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posted by nooneyouknow at 8:15 PM on December 20, 2009


Does anyone else think it's odd her mother found her in the shower at 8am, while in her husband's apartment?

My uninformed guess is that she may have been visiting for the holidays.


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posted by sarahsynonymous at 8:20 PM on December 20, 2009


was something really offbeat and slightly insane about her, and I am devastated that something so *different* is now lost.

Nodding. I thought she was amazing in Freeway and Clueless ... I felt concern/sadness when she lost sooooo much weight and emerged as the leading lady type. But also felt happy for her that she was getting work and fame, and thought, well, her choices are her choices.

If she was diabetic (some reports say so), the weight loss could have created huge health risks. (Google diabulimia.) So sad.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:37 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's weird because I wouldn't put Brittany Murphy in the same category as Britney Spears or LiLo. Murphy's a bit older, and she was kinda good in the roles she played. I also, as of late, haven't seen that much gossip about her in the same way one sees it about Lindsey and Paris, etc. I haven't seen her on the cover of US Weekly or anything (I must admit, I don't actually read the insides of those magazines, but I do examine the covers every week). Does this trope of media over-scrutiny and bad behavior really apply to her?

Anyway, :( .
posted by bluefly at 8:38 PM on December 20, 2009


The SNL skit was really weird to me, because at the time it seemed like it had come out of nowhere, like they had just picked a random celebrity to call out for being flighty.

If you read the histories of SNL that are in print, you learn that the Weekend Update segment is the easiest place for lesser-known cast members to get airtime, without having to have strong relationships with the writers, many of whom write specifically for certain actors. Got a character or an impression that you can write and pitch yourself? Can it operate independent of anything else (meaning, can you just go on by yourself with it, out of context, and be funny)? You can get a spot on the Weekend Update with it.

Abby Elliott, the actor that did the impression, is still a relative SNL rookie. I bet this impression is just another thing in her particular bag of tricks, not terribly interesting or timely, but a good impression, nonetheless. She wanted airtime, and the producers just let her whip it out to see what would happen.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:50 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I never thought of her as a major star but I always liked her in anything I saw her in. Sad that her mom found her.
posted by arse_hat at 8:55 PM on December 20, 2009


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posted by lapolla at 9:10 PM on December 20, 2009


The more I think about this, the sadder it makes me. There is a certain kind of actor that can intentionally chew the scenery, and make you like them that much more for it. She totally pulled that off in her conversation out the window with Clive Owen in Sin City.

Damn it
posted by quin at 9:23 PM on December 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Karen Carpenter also died of a heart attack at age 32.

I'm struggling with whether or not I should even be considering the similarities, but it is normally very rare it is for a woman this age to die of a heart attack.
posted by eye of newt at 9:30 PM on December 20, 2009


ugh typos!
posted by eye of newt at 9:32 PM on December 20, 2009


Sad news about a very likeable actress.

For those of us who didn't see it, what was the gist of the (now yanked from Hulu) SNL sketch?
posted by deern the headlice at 9:42 PM on December 20, 2009


She was the best thing about Clueless, which is in and of itself a very likable film, full of likable actors, and it also has Paul Rudd, so for Murphy to steal it away like that -- well, she had real talent.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:02 PM on December 20, 2009


I saw a few of her interviews on YouTube today. She looked so scary skinny in one that she had with Craig Ferguson where she wouldn't quit talking with a British accent. She always seemed strange, likeable, but nervous and frenzied.

I wouldn't be surprised if it was cardiac arrest due to an eating disorder, though I'm not saying definitively that's what it is. It's so sad to me to hear about a young working actress die at a young age. So many young stars today are just completely unaware what they're doing to their bodies to stay thin. I used to believe, in college, that being thin was very important, until I learned about how our bones mature and how we must keep our bodies healthy for a functional, and not just aesthetic, purpose, especially for aging well and staying mobile. But it seems like monied Hollywood just doesn't seem to understand their own limits, and learn how not to sell their health out. It's really so sad to me.
posted by anniecat at 10:14 PM on December 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's something we've watched in progress throughout this entire decade: young women who are held up as the next big thing (Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears) and then brushed aside or openly mocked after they no longer fit an expected mold.

I think Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears are being mocked for wasting their celebrity, wealth, beauty and talent, and getting into drugs and abusing alcohol. Also, starlets in that category (add Tara Reid and Kirsten Dunst to that particular school) tend to say and do stupid things because they chose not to be educated, despite having the money to do so. For contrast, see Natalie Portman, Clare Danes, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Reese Witherspoon, and a handful of other actresses that went to college or had parents who were relatively well educated and professional, and instilled a sense of professionalism, grace, and reserve in their children.
posted by anniecat at 10:25 PM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Crap, 32.

Today I am even more grateful to be alive.

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posted by bwg at 10:31 PM on December 20, 2009


She really nailed the tone of her Sin City performance.
posted by brundlefly at 10:41 PM on December 20, 2009


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None of the reports seem to mention her 2006 movie, The Dead Girl. Her performance is gut-wrenching -- Karen Moncrieff pulled something almost feral out of her as an actress. I'm shocked the role didn't get her more acclaim.
posted by mochapickle at 10:43 PM on December 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sin City was a movie full of huge characters played with uniformly great performances, but her Shelly was the only one that really swung for the fences with taking the '40s Hollywood noir and making it completely unglamorous. She actually got some shit for it when the reviews came out, but in truth it hit the tone of the material closer than any of the others did.

My roommate said something tonight about how, as horrible as it was, she wanted Murphy's death to be related to drugs or an eating disorder. Random cardiac arrest at 32 just wasn't something she wanted to know was out there. She (my roommate) didn't want the candal, but just wanted an understandable reason for it.

My best guess is that it is tied to an eating disorder, but I'm not a doctor and I don't now shit and I don't want to disparage her memory with unfounded rumor. More, I'm worried about two things.

The first is that Brittany Murphy was indeed a very talented and brave actress, unafraid of what a role would do to her "image." She was never America's Sweetheart, but we all for the most part knew who she was. She never lived her life really in the public eye, and that will probaby hurt her legacy here. Like with Karen Carpenter, her death and the circumstances surrounding it will probably be remembered more than the work she put forward in her lifetime.

The second is that, because drugs and eating disorders are both being thrown about with reckless abandon as possible causes, if it is indeed determined to be the result of an eating disorder, it will be made into a Hollywood scandal, or an easy excuse, or some other thing which makes it all about an actress' vanity being her downfall or some other such bullshit. As if eating disorders aren't actual ailments that people deal with, and aren't commonplace among tons of suffering non-famous people.

I don't want this to be played in a way which makes others suffering from the same thing feel ashamed to seek help, is I guess my point. If, indeed, that is what caused her untimely death to begin with.

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posted by Navelgazer at 11:37 PM on December 20, 2009 [7 favorites]


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posted by EatTheWeak at 11:53 PM on December 20, 2009


I feel very sorry for her. I would be flabbergasted if the underlying story behind her death was not a very unhappy, lonely and insecure person.

I'm going to direct my mourning as hate for all the lame-o celebs who rushed to cover this in a superficial, trite and self-publicising way on Twitter with lots of "RIP Brittney" and "2day a bit of sunshine wuz lost." If there's one thing worse than media vultures picking over the bones of a dead person's life, it's the outpouring of faux grief on social media.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:22 AM on December 21, 2009


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posted by IvoShandor at 1:25 AM on December 21, 2009


here's a copy of the SNL sketch
posted by delmoi at 1:42 AM on December 21, 2009


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posted by hydropsyche at 5:06 AM on December 21, 2009


She was apparently taking medication for "flu-like" symptoms for the last week, so it's not a lock that she died as a result of anorexia or drugs. Although when I look at photos of her husband I think something was very wrong in her life, he seems completely bonkers. Anyway, I hope people won't be too disappointed if it was swine flu instead of something scandalicious.

She was talented & endearing and I'm glad she'll be around for a long time via King of the Hill syndication.
posted by zarah at 5:17 AM on December 21, 2009


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posted by manos_frias at 5:22 AM on December 21, 2009


whenever someone famous and unexpected dies, people come out of the woodwork to say how nice they were. It's touching that it apparently means something this time.

I first noticed her in Freeway, in which she played a psychotic and slightly dangerous young girl in juvie. I remember thinking how closely her performance tracked with some marginal people I'd met. In Clueless I admired again the way she seemed to throw herself into the role. I thought I was seeing a major talent coming into view. Time passed, and I thought she just hadn't gotten her real break yet -- she'd emerge as one of those incredible character players once she got more in her catalog.

And I liked her voice work. It was real voice work, not just 'Brittany Murphy's voice'. (Didn't she do Joseph Gribble for the first couple of seasons, too?)

So, celebrity-filter, etc., but it does make me sad.

She was so emaciated in recent pictures, you have to think about eating disorders. People can easily be that thin and be healthy, if their diet is good and they take care of themselves and it's not pathological. But pathological eating disorders typically come with behaviors that are popularly conceptualized as benign, but cause damage to your body. Purging, for example, can cause lesions in the throat and esophagus, making them more vulnerable to infection. And your immune system is compromised when you deprive your body of nutrients; your cardiac health can be severely compromised; and your electrolytes are often way out of whack, which can lead to cardiac arrest.
posted by lodurr at 6:07 AM on December 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


joseph gurl: Yes, but like I said, there are plenty of ways to act that allow people to live normally. Your argument only makes sense if Hollywood were the only outlet for actors.

It's not.


So, I guess I'm not understanding you: Are you saying that actors are bad people if they ever aspire to getting paid for their work? Or that creative expression shouldn't take a toll on you if you're getting paid for it?
posted by lodurr at 6:15 AM on December 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I had completely forgotten she did a song with Paul Oakenfold a while back, Faster Kill Pussycat, until the local newspaper reminded me of it. She acquits herself well, vocal-wise.
posted by Kattullus at 6:49 AM on December 21, 2009


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She was a delight in King of the Hill, of course, but it wasn't until I saw Ramen Girl a couple months back that I really noticed her. So sad for her family.
posted by cupcakeninja at 6:58 AM on December 21, 2009


I never understand that "THEY GAVE US EVERRRRYYYYTHING" line that always comes up when a celebrity dies young or tragically.

I've never heard anyone say "They gave us everything" when a celebrity dies young or tragically.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:33 AM on December 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


to be fair, it may have been an overstatement but there were a couple in this thread to that effect. and I do think you see it. where it gets squicky for me is when it's a living person saying it of him/herself, e.g. when writing a tell-all, coming out of rehab, etc. Or when their publicists do it for them, for that matter. (though if i'm really honest, some of the "they sacrificed 4U" celeb cults, like Judy Garland's, creep me right the fuck out.)

when people say stuff like that after a celeb dies (it was a major thread following Ledger's death), it seems to me more a comment about the people watching the celebs than the celebs themselves. A lot of actors are very ambivalent about the fact of their fame. really unhealthy psychological relationship with it. Ledger may have been that way, a bit; sounds like Murphy may have fallen into that, too. Karen Carpenter seems to me to fit that pattern. They like being acknowledged, but there's the constant tension of being acknowledged for the wrong fucking thing [in their minds], which can be a real mind-fuck for some kinds of people. "I know you love me but you don't love me for the right reasons." Hell, that happens all the time with "regular" people, why not celebs? They're as human as we are. It doesn't make me feel contempt for them, it makes me feel sympathy. I would classify it under "pathos" rather than "tragedy", but then, I feel we un-justly glamorize tragedy in our culture.
posted by lodurr at 7:45 AM on December 21, 2009


Jaltcoh: it may be something you have to be able to say "is this something I'd have to own a TV to know about?" to really know about.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:45 AM on December 21, 2009


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posted by purpleclover at 8:21 AM on December 21, 2009


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posted by Halloween Jack at 8:29 AM on December 21, 2009


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posted by ejoey at 8:59 AM on December 21, 2009


Clueless was my favorite movie in high school. I loved Brittnay Murphy in it and wanted to be like Tai. My heart goes out to her family, especially her mom, during the holidays.

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posted by ahdeeda at 9:00 AM on December 21, 2009


While at first I was sort of touched that Brittany Murphy had an Artie Lange impersonator for a husband, Simon Monjack is a really sketchy dude. The whole "no autopsy" thing was kind of strange but not noteworthy until you realize that there's a whole string of bad news flowing from this guy:

"Among his troubles: two warrants for his arrest in Virginia for alleged credit-card theft and fraud; an unpaid $6,087 legal bill, and a $502,910 judgment against him by a British investment firm. And Us Weekly reports in its new issue that Monjack gave his former fiancée, British film producer Taira Rafiq, an engagement ring he had told her was a diamond but was, in fact, cubic zirconia. "Taira tried to get in touch with Brittany to warn her," a Rafiq pal tells Us."

There's a bunch of gossip going back to when he dated Alexandra Kerry during the 2004 campaign, and none of it is good.
posted by geoff. at 9:28 AM on December 21, 2009


OMG SHE WAS ALSO TAI! I LOVED TAI! :( :( :(
posted by Eideteker at 9:50 AM on December 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Regarding the no autopsy thing, practically the first thing my mom said to the authorities on the scene of her father's death was 'no autopsy', it horrified her to think of her beloved father being sliced open, not to mention he had said many times that no matter how he died he didn't want one performed on him. A lot of people have strong feelings about the procedure, so it could simply be that he can't bear the idea of his lovely wife being cut open. Or not, just saying. He really seems weird overall.
posted by zarah at 9:51 AM on December 21, 2009


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posted by SisterHavana at 10:31 AM on December 21, 2009


Abby Elliott, by the way, is Chris Elliott's daughter and Bob Elliott's granddaughter. Feature story here. Thought I would make this thread less depressing.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 12:34 PM on December 21, 2009


Like with Karen Carpenter, her death and the circumstances surrounding it will probably be remembered more than the work she put forward in her lifetime.

If it makes anybody feel any better, I have little clue how Karen Carpenter died, and I only know her for her voice, and when I think of her I hear "don't you remember you told me you loved me baby!"

So I'm sure Brittany Murphy's memory will not be solely doomed to tabloid obituaries, and she will be remembered for some of her memorable roles, and I hope not sporadically.

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posted by jabberjaw at 12:40 PM on December 21, 2009


> Also, starlets in that category (add Tara Reid and Kirsten Dunst to that particular school) tend to say and do stupid things because they chose not to be educated, despite having the money to do so. For contrast, see Natalie Portman, Clare Danes, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Reese Witherspoon, and a handful of other actresses that went to college or had parents who were relatively well educated and professional, and instilled a sense of professionalism, grace, and reserve in their children.

What the hell is this judgmentalism for? So, starlets do "stupid things" because they or their parents failed to attain college degrees and the attendant social grace? That's the reason, is it? College educated people wouldn't do such "stupid things"? I don't even know to which "stupid things" you're referring exactly, I'd probably have to follow celebrity gossip to know, but I consider devoting attention to celebrity gossip a supremely "stupid thing".
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:44 PM on December 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


I always got an impression that there was a lot of sadness and trying to hard when I saw her photos. Her eyes and smile look forced and unhappy as if she's trying to uphold a standard she couldn't obtain yet it was killing her not to be able to obtain it.

Sad and sorry she had to go.
posted by stormpooper at 12:54 PM on December 21, 2009


ambrosia voyeur's comments remind me of this:
Stockbroker #1: [looking over the edge of the balcony] I think Alan Swann is beneath us!
Stockbroker #2: Of course he's beneath us. He's an actor!
Stockbroker #1: No! I think Alan Swann is beneath us right now!
one could change the gender on all the examples AV cites, but that wouldn't really fix the problem. In addition to the sexism there's classism, intellectual elitism, a ton of stuff buried in there still whether it's gendered or not. To paraphrase someone from MeTa, Brittany was merely a 'relatively unknown and wholly unremarkable Hollywood actress', and so not deserving of an FPP in life or in death. Nobody gets an FPP unless they're an intellectual, maybe. Or a surf god. Or a musician. Certainly not an actress. Even if a lot of us did find her work really interesting.
posted by lodurr at 3:51 PM on December 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does anyone else think it's odd her mother found her in the shower at 8am, while in her husband's apartment?

Overall, I'd say not as odd as this kind of tacky speculation.
posted by troybob at 4:54 PM on December 21, 2009


There's just no way to look at this that's not incredibly sad.

So here's my dot, rollin' with the homies: ./\/\/'
posted by albrecht at 6:06 PM on December 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


At least she gets to be with Buckley's Angel now...
posted by bloody_bonnie at 8:00 PM on December 21, 2009


Sad. She was the same age as my sister. I don't know what I would do if I was her family.

And you know, I was just wishing I could watch "Uptown Girls" last week. After hearing this, I went out and bought it.
posted by Kimothy at 9:24 PM on December 21, 2009


Brittany. Thanks for appearing briefly in our lives. It could have been longer, but not a whole lot better.
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posted by duncan42 at 5:54 AM on December 22, 2009


Can't believe no one has mentioned the mockumentary Drop Dead Gorgeous, Brittany has a hilarious role in it as well.

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posted by SarahElizaP at 12:29 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was so sorry to hear this. I remember seeing her in only one movie besides Clueless and Freeway; it was called the Dead Girl, in which she turns up IIRC about halfway through. She was a huge jolt of energy in a hard-to-watch film full of good actors.
posted by goofyfoot at 12:40 AM on December 23, 2009


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