Video: Monroe mystery

updated 8/17/2005 8:21:28 PM ET 2005-08-18T00:21:28
TRANSCRIPT

Decades after Marilyn Monroe's death from an apparent suicide, new information suggests she might have been the victim of foul play. 

Former L.A. prosecutor John Miner, who was present at her autopsy, has compiled notes on her final thoughts, which he says proves that she was not suicidal.  He shares his findings with MSNBC-TV host Dan Abrams alongside her former friend and Honorary Mayor of Hollywood Johnny Grant and Monroe biographer Anthony Summers.

DAN ABRAMS, 'ABRAMS REPORT’ HOST: Marilyn Monroe was found dead, naked, lying face down on her bed. The official finding was that she died of acute barbiturate poisoning, a probable suicide, at the age of 36. Now there’s new information out that could change the way people look back at the life and death of Marilyn Monroe. 

Former L.A. County prosecutor John Miner, who was present at her autopsy, has come forward with what he says are his own extensive, nearly verbatim notes of secret tapes that Marilyn made for her psychiatrist, possibly days before her death. 

In those notes, Marilyn allegedly talks about problems with sex, a sexual encounter with actress Joan Crawford, an affair with Bobby Kennedy, then attorney general of the United States, and her admiration for President Kennedy. The notes also quote Marilyn on plans for the future, to study Shakespeare and make a whole series of his plays into films. 

John Miner says that based on those notes from the tapes there was no possible way Marilyn Monroe could have committed suicide.

Mr. Miner, let me start with you. There are a lot of people out there who are saying, you know look, this just doesn’t do it. These are just notes. Why did you just come forward with the notes now? 

JOHN MINER, FORMER LOS ANGELES PROSECUTOR: On the first instance, I didn’t just come forward.  I have been interviewed on this matter for years.  I gave a promise to Dr. Greenson when he let me hear these tapes that Marilyn Monroe made for him as a part of her therapy that I would never reveal the contents. Until attacks were made on Dr. Greenson, implicating him in possibly causing the death of Marilyn Monroe, I obtained the permission of his widow to come back and address false accusations. 

ABRAMS: Why would this psychiatrist have let you sit there and take verbatim notes of what was supposed to be a private conversation for him? 

MINER: Well how do you know I took verbatim notes?

ABRAMS: I thought that’s what they were. I mean it sure looks that way.

MINER: There were notes that I made immediately afterwards. There’s a trial lawyer’s memory. I put together a transcript, which in my best judgment, is an accurate account of what Ms. Monroe said on those tapes. 

ABRAMS: One of the things I think is most relevant to the question of her death is this statement, which this comes from your notes:  “I made you another present" — referring to her psychiatrist — "I have thrown away all of my pills in the toilet. You see how serious I am about this.”

Mr. Grant, bottom line, you too believe that Marilyn Monroe was the victim of foul play? 

JOHNNY GRANT, HONORARY MAYOR OF HOLLYWOOD: I do. I do. I have gone through the report that John made, at least two dozen times, looking for nuances that would make me believe she was in the mood to kill herself. Absolutely not. I knew her for a long time and she had gone through a lot of adversity, so she was used to that. And she was at a point of the best part of her career with her new contract and everything happening the way it was. So I just don’t believe it. I’m joining John to help take the stigma off of Marilyn Monroe’s name. 

ABRAMS: And do you agree with Mr. Miner’s theory that she was killed by some sort of barbiturates and an enema? 

GRANT: Well I am not an authority on that, but I believe his report. I have heard him tell this story many, many times, had the questions asked to him in many ways and he’s convinced me. I will tell you, Dan, most of the people in Hollywood don’t believe Marilyn Monroe took her own life. 

ABRAMS: Joining me is Anthony Summers. You don’t buy it.

ANTHONY SUMMERS, MARILYN MONROE BIOGRAPHER: No, I don’t buy it. John Miner is a nice man and he said generous things about my own work. And he tells a good story. But how well a man tells a story doesn’t make the story true. He first brought to me and thus to Vanity Fair magazine, to which I contribute sometimes, his so-called transcript back in 1995, before he said he had shown it to anyone else. And Vanity Fair and I decided it wasn’t worthy of being published and I haven’t changed my mind. 

ABRAMS: Why not? 

SUMMERS: What happened in 1995 was that Miner got in touch to say he was going to let go what he claimed to have heard Monroe say on the purported tapes. He said he had 70 to 80 handwritten pages of what he called manuscript type notes of what he supposedly heard back in 1962. He obviously wanted money. I mean, it was evident that he wanted money were everything to be published. Some of it, perhaps he said to found a scholarship in memory of Monroe's psychiatrist, that’s Greenson, but also for himself and he spoke of having been offered six-figure sums for his story. 

I asked him how he could possibly recall 80 pages worth of what Monroe had said more than 30 years earlier. And he said, as I think he said just now, that he had made notes full of a sort of shorthand back in 1962.

ABRAMS: All right.

SUMMERS: He claimed he’d got an extraordinarily good memory. He later said he had located those notes in a storage shed. But in spite of months of urging, he never produced them and he did produce not 70 to 80 pages, but a 35-page narrative written on a yellow legal pad. But he admitted that he had written that up only in the very last few weeks.

Vanity Fair and I said thanks, but no thanks. I don’t understand why any reputable paper like The New York Times, like the L.A. Times would decide to run the material. 

ABRAMS: Mr. Miner, what is your response? I mean basically what Mr. Summers is saying is that the notes just aren’t credible.

MINER: Well, Mr. Summers is certainly entitled to his opinion. But I think it reflects something else.  It reflects the fact that he probably is thinking in his own mind I was not as good an investigative reporter as I should have been. Read his book. You’ll see that there’s no explanation for why the first officer on the scene did not declare the residence a crime scene. 

No explanation why no forensic team was called for to inventory everything in the residence, take everybody out. There’s no explanation for the fact that Ms. Monroe’s body was taken to the Westwood Memorial Cemetery from the residence.

ABRAMS: Mr. Miner, I just want to ask you the final question. But regardless of that, you’re telling us that these notes that have now been disclosed were written immediately after you heard those psychiatrist’s tapes, not later, correct?

MINER:  I made notes after I heard it, yes.

ABRAMS: Immediately after? 

MINER: What do you mean by immediately? 

ABRAMS: I don’t know. You said it was your own memory. That you had taken notes immediately after.

MINER:  I took the notes the evening that I made my notes of what she said — my own personal notes of what she said the evening of the day that I heard it. 

ABRAMS:  We should point out that in 1982 there was an effort to get the investigation reopened after examining the evidence, they decided not do it. 

Watch the 'Abrams Report' for more analysis and interviews on the top legal stories each weeknight at 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV.

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