On its surface, it was an unusual romance to say the least. The twice-engaged beautiful young actress with the sometimes-spotty filmography and the frumpy British B-movie director/screenwriter with a history of financial struggles who faced deportation just months before their wedding.
Now, just over three years after the revelation of their secret April 2007 nuptials, Brittany Murphy and Simon Monjack are dead , both having collapsed and passed away in the Hollywood home they shared with Murphy’s mother.
Murphy — who died in December at age 32 from a combination of pneumonia, anemia and multiple drug intoxication — had a series of high-profile relationships with the likes of Ashton Kutcher and Fred Durst during her once-hot career. She was engaged to Jeff Kwatinetz, the Hollywood heavyweight producer/manager, for around five months in 2004. She then broke it off with him and got engaged in 2005 to a production assistant on her 2004 film “Little Black Book,” Joe Macaluso. The pair ended their romance in August 2006.
The actress once told tabloid magazine OK that she met Monjack when she was 17 and that the two had kept in touch over the years. “The easiest decision I ever made in my life was getting married,” she said. “He’s flown around the world to make sure we spend every single night together.”
If the two kept in touch, it was a secret to most people in Hollywood, because even the tabloids were surprised when the pair tied the knot in a quiet Jewish ceremony in April 2007 after never really appearing in public together and not announcing their engagement. The small ceremony was reportedly attended by family members and wasn’t revealed until an Us Weekly reporter spotted the pair wearing wedding rings at the Kentucky Derby in early May 2007. E! Online speculated that the couple had gotten engaged at some point in the previous eight months, because before that, Murphy was still planning her wedding to Macaluso.
The marriage was also shocking because Monjack, seven years older than Murphy, was practically unknown in the entertainment business and the press he had gotten was mostly unkind. Monjack was born in Hillingdon, England, on August 5, 1970. He was credited with writing, producing and directing the little-seen 2000 movie “Two Days, Nine Lives,” which starred “Hellboy II” actor Luke Goss as a movie producer who enters rehab after a drug-related crash. He also had a disputed co-writing credit on the Edie Sedgwick bio “Factory Girl.” He became most well-known for a pair of warrants issued in Virginia for alleged credit-card fraud that were later dropped, a nearly $500,000 judgment against him in 2006 following a lawsuit by a British investment firm and a nine-day jail stint in February 2007, enforced by customs officials for overstaying his work visa.
Even after their wedding, the couple was infrequently seen in public, and when news did emerge, it was typically unflattering, such as when Monjack allegedly showed up drunk and belligerent on the set of Murphy’s final film, 2009’s “The Caller.” Reports at the time said that Murphy was fired from the film after Monjack burst onto the set inebriated and disrupted shooting. A short time later, she was found dead in her home. Rumors swirled again when a distraught Monjack refused to allow the coroner’s office to do an autopsy on the actress.
The Los Angeles Times reported that on Sunday night, Monjack was found dead of yet-unknown causes at the home he shared with Murphy.
The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to a 911 call at 9:24 p.m. on Sunday for an “unspecified medical aid request,” according to a spokesman. After Fire Department personnel attempted to provide medical assistance to Monjack, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
TMZ reported that Murphy’s mother, Sharon, who also discovered her daughter’s body, was the person who found British screenwriter Monjack unconscious in the master bedroom and it was she who called 911 to report the medical emergency.
The site claimed that Monjack reportedly died as a result of cardiac arrest, though that has not been confirmed. A death investigation is under way. Following Murphy’s death, Monjack said in an interview that he suffered from seizures and had suffered a heart attack while returning from a vacation in Puerto Rico in 2009.