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New Details Emerge About Brittany Murphy's "Bizarre" Death in HBO Doc

Including a bombshell claim from her late husband's ex-fiancée.

In December 2009, actor Brittany Murphy died suddenly and mysteriously at only 32 years old. While the Clueless star's official cause of death was pneumonia, she was also found to be anemic and taking a combination of legal medications. The situation was further complicated when Murphy's husband, English screenwriter and producer Simon Monjack, died from pneumonia and anemia only six months later at age 40.

Now, some more information about Murphy's death 12 years ago is coming out in the new HBO documentary, What Happened, Brittany Murphy?. Ahead of the film's Oct. 14 release, some of the new details were shared with People magazine, including a strange story from Monjack's past. Read on to find out more about the documentary and Murphy's "bizarre" death.

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Murphy's official cause of death was disputed.

Brittany Murphy at the premiere of "Happy Feet" in 2006
Tinseltown /

Even though Murphy's official cause of death was given by Los Angeles County Coroner Asst. Chief Ed Winter as pneumonia with anemia and the mix of medication as secondary causes, the story didn't end there. Soon, there were claims made about there being toxic mold in the house where the couple lived, but the coroner said there was no indication that mold played a role, as reported by E! News. There was also a theory that Murphy had been intentionally poisoned with heavy metals that circulated after her father requested that her hair be tested, but this was never confirmed as the cause of death, either.

"Her death was was so bizarre and there are so many twists and turns," What Happened, Brittany Murphy? executive producer Buddy Day told People.

The new documentary includes new details about her final days.

Brittany Murphy at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival
Vinicius Tupinamba /

As shared in People's preview, What Happened, Brittany Murphy? features Murphy's makeup artist, Trista Jordan, from her last movie, Something Wicked. "Her eyes were so sunken, and she just seemed so sad," Jordan said of Murphy's appearance in the months prior to her death. "She wasn't herself. She was in so much pain. She had Bambi legs and couldn't stand up."

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The documentary digs into Monjack's past.

Brittany Murphy and Simon Monjack at a screening of "Love and Other Disasters" in July 2007
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Monjack's ex-fiancée, Elizabeth Ragsdale, appears in the documentary and claims that Monjack abandoned her when she was pregnant. Ragsdale says that when she was four months pregnant, Monjack told her to come to the U.S. and give birth there. "When I got to my little studio in New York, I called him and he answered. I said, 'Simon, I've made it to …' and before I could get that sentence out, he hung up on me," she claimed. "He left me pregnant and abandoned."

The director of the documentary, Cynthia Hill, told People of Monjack, "He was a disturbed individual who was used to conning people and Brittany was one of his last victims. There was a pattern of behavior that became very obvious the more research that we did."

The documentary is meant to honor Murphy's life, too.

Brittany Murphy at the Us Weekly Hot Hollywood Awards in 2006
s_bukley /

"I agreed to do this film because I think it's a shame that Brittany's promising life and career has been eclipsed by the circumstances of her death," Hill said in a statement, as reported by Entertainment Weekly. "I think it's important to celebrate Brittany's talent as we struggle to explain the tragic circumstances of her and Simon's deaths."

Murphy's biggest films include Clueless, 8 Mile, Girl, Interrupted, Sin City, and many more. Her last film, the independent horror movie Something Wicked, was released after her death in 2014, but did not have a wide release.

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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