Monday, December 21, 2009

Brittany Murphy death 'natural' insists coroner

By Matt Williams, Press Association

The Independent, Monday, 21 December 2009

Brittany Murphy at a Sydney premiere of the movie "Happy Feet" in 2006

REUTERS/Will Burgess

Brittany Murphy at a Sydney premiere of the movie "Happy Feet" in 2006

Hollywood actress Brittany Murphy, who collapsed at her home, died from natural causes, a Los Angeles coroner insisted today. Los Angeles police have said Murphy, 32, appeared to have died from natural causes but were looking into her medical history. Murphy, who appeared in films including 8 Mile and Clueless, collapsed in the bathroom of the home she shared with her husband, British screenwriter Simon Monjack, shortly before 8am yesterday (4pm GMT).

Medics attempted to revive the actress, but she was pronounced dead two hours later after being admitted to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles. An official cause of death will not be released until after toxicology tests have been completed, but LA's assistant chief coroner Ed Winter said "it appears to be natural".

An autopsy is planned for tomorrow or Wednesday, he added. Showbiz websites in the US have carried unconfirmed reports that Murphy was on a number of prescription drugs before her collapse. Since her death, paparazzi have been camped outside her home above Sunset Strip. In a statement, Murphy's publicist Nicole Perna said: "In this time of sadness, the family thanks you for your love and support. It is their wish that you respect their privacy."

Murphy's father Angelo Bertolotti said he was stunned on being told by his son of the death. He said: "She was just an absolute doll since she was born. Her personality was always outward. Everybody loved her - people that made movies with her, people on a cruise - they all loved her. She was just a regular gal."

Video: Brittany Murphy dies

Mr Bertolotti divorced the actress's mother when Murphy was young and has not seen his daughter in the past few years. She rose to fame through supporting roles in films such as Girl, Interrupted; Clueless and 8 Mile. She is due to appear in Sylvester Stallone's forthcoming film The Expendables, which is expected to be released next year. In 2003 she starred alongside Ashton Kutcher in the romantic comedy Just Married. The pair later dated. In a message posted on his twitter page on Sunday, Kutcher said: "2day the world lost a piece of sunshine. My deepest condolences go out 2 Brittany's family, her husband & her amazing mother Sharon."

The Independent's Stephen Foley reported that she had recently been replaced on the production of a new film, The Caller, after what her agent described as creative differences.

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