By ANTHONY McCARTNEY
AP Entertainment Writer
LOS ANGELES — A month after her sudden death, Brittany Murphy’s mother and husband say they are convinced the actress died of natural causes, not drugs or an eating disorder.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Sharon Murphy and Simon Monjack said that Murphy did not use drugs or alcohol and that they are awaiting a determination from coroner’s officials that will end speculation prescription medicine caused Murphy’s death on Dec. 20 at age 32.
Monjack said some of the prescription medications found in the couple’s Hollywood Hills home belonged to him.
Murphy had mitral valve prolapse, a common condition where a heart valve does not properly close, but doctors said the actress “would live a long and healthy life,” Monjack said.
“She had a fear of dying,” Sharon Murphy said. “She would not take too much caffeine. She wouldn’t even have a glass of champagne on New Year’s. She was just high on life, and people see that as something else I guess.”
Murphy, the star of varied films such as ‘Clueless,’ ‘8 Mile,’ ‘Sin City’ and the television series ‘King of the Hill,’ was buried in a private funeral on Christmas Eve. At the service, Monjack told mourners that the actress was his best friend and soul mate, sentiments he repeated during the Tuesday interview.
Monjack, who married Murphy in 2007, said police and coroner’s officials have not contacted the family to say his wife’s death was from anything other than natural causes.
Authorities continue to investigate her death but do not suspect foul play. An autopsy was inconclusive and coroner’s officials are awaiting the results of toxicology and tissue tests before determining what killed the actress.
Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said Tuesday that he had not seen Murphy’s autopsy report, but the condition of her heart would be looked at before her cause of death is determined.
Sharon Murphy described the wait for answers as torture. “We wish we knew,” she said.
“She was alive one minute and she was dead the next,” Monjack said.
The pair worked frantically to save Murphy’s life the morning she died, as revealed in a heart-wrenching 911 call where Sharon Murphy implores, “Brittany, please come back!” as Monjack performs CPR.
Sharon Murphy said she has largely ignored tabloid reports that have suggested her daughter abused drugs or had an eating disorder. She said her daughter had always been petite and ate often, but burned it off with an active lifestyle.
Monjack, who has read some of the reports, called them lies based on anonymous sources who weren’t close to Brittany Murphy or him. He said he is considering suing some British outlets for “outright fabrications.”
He said the rumors of her drug use were unfounded and had cost his wife roles in some major films.
He said he is also considering whether to sue the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Department over an initial report that was obtained by celebrity Web site TMZ.com, which listed several prescription medications found in Murphy’s home. Monjack said most of the medicines listed in the report were his.
He said his wife took the anti-seizure medication klonopin ever since an episode she had while filming “8 Mile.” She also occasionally took Sarafem, a drug aimed at pain and mood swings during menstrual periods, Monjack said.
Klonopin has been cited in several celebrity overdose deaths, but with many other medications mixed in.
He said he did not think a harmful interaction of drugs played a role in his wife’s death. She had been sick with flu-like symptoms in the days before her death and had been taking Robitussin, but nothing more, he said.
Monjack and Sharon Murphy remain in the Hollywood Hills home where Brittany Murphy collapsed a month ago. They share grief and memories of Murphy, speaking highly of each other. Monjack calls Murphy his soul mate; Sharon Murphy calls her daughter “my other half.”
DVDs of some of Brittany Murphy’s films lay near the entertainment center, and several framed photographic portraits of the actress that Monjack shot adorn the walls and other areas of the living room.
“I’m comforted by these photographs,” Monjack said. “I’m comforted by the transformation from girl to woman that I witnessed.”
The couple planned to display for exhibition some of the photographs, which can be seen at http://www.simonmonjackphotography.com.
It was just one of the couple’s plans, which included starting a family and moving to New York. Sharon Murphy said her daughter was talking about having a child the night before she died. Monjack said they already had baby names picked out.
Now the pair are planning a public memorial to celebrate Brittany Murphy’s life, which will be held in the Los Angeles area at the end of February. Monjack and Sharon Murphy said they have asked many of the actress’ friends to refrain from making public comments, but that they expect the memorial will remind people of her talents and beauty.
Monjack said the memorial will coincide with the launch of the Brittany Murphy Foundation, a charitable group that he said will support arts education for children and other causes his wife believed in.
Both Monjack and Sharon Murphy said they expect respect to grow for Brittany Murphy’s work and life, once questions about her death are settled. The actress had completed two unreleased films before her death but their prospects are uncertain.
Sharon Murphy expressed reluctance about their release because of the filmmakers’ inexperience, but Monjack said he would approve if the releases were respectfully done and the profits donated to the Brittany Murphy Foundation.
“I think the dust will settle, the truth will come out,” Monjack said. “I think people will come to realize the genius of Brittany Murphy and come to regret the way they treated her while she was alive.”
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