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The Life and Death of Marilyn Monroe: 50th anniversary event at Bart's Pathology Museum

The 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death will be marked with a seminar at Queen Mary, University of London, taking in the science of poisons and overdose, and Monroe’s final mysterious days with the Rat Pack at a notorious Mafia haunt.

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Leading Queen Mary toxicologist Professor Atholl Johnston joins forces with legendary journalist Peter Evans on Wednesday 8 August, for the event at Bart’s Pathology Museum – part of Queen Mary’s West Smithfield campus.

Monroe was found dead at her home on August 5 1962 at just 36-years-old, with an empty bottle of sleeping pills by her bedside. Conflicting news reports and witness statements from the time of her death created a series of rumours and questions that, five decades later, continue to intrigue the public.

Guest speaker at the seminar, Peter Evans, was a columnist and foreign correspondent for the Daily Express at the height of its success in the 1960s. He has since written for the Los Angeles Times, Vogue and every major national British newspaper. He is an expert on the Hollywood stars of decades past and the author of a dozen books, including biographies of actress Brigitte Bardot, actor Peter Sellers and shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.

A reporter in New York at the time of Monroe’s death, Evans was personally acquainted with the actress and flew to Los Angeles hours after she died to cover the story. In an article for the Daily Mail two years ago, he recalled his memories of the day and presented his explosive interview with jazz musician Buddy Greco, who rubbed shoulders with both Marilyn and the Mafia in the final week of her life.

Atholl Johnston is Professor of Clinical Pharmacology at Queen Mary. He is currently a government advisor on drink and drug driving and has over 30 years experience in the measurement of drug concentrations in the human body. At ‘The Life and Death of Marilyn Monroe’ he will present an introduction to the science of toxicology and an overview of the mechanisms of overdose, before moving on to discuss the case of Monroe’s death directly.

Professor Johnston comments: "Ms Monroe's death was attributed to drug toxicity resulting from her having taken an overdose of barbiturates, but many believe she was murdered. As in the case of Princess Diana, coincidently another 36 year old blonde, the secrecy that surrounded Ms Monroe’s death, and the lack of information shared by the investigating authorities, has fuelled a conflagration of conspiracy theories.

“In my talk, I will discuss what is known about Ms Monroe’s cause of death from the point of view as a forensic toxicologist and the reasons why the manner of her death, and the subsequent investigation, has attracted the attention of conspiracy theorists." 

Tickets for the event can be booked here at a cost of £4, to include a glass of wine or soft drink on arrival and other light refreshments.

Seminar guests will also have the chance to view some of the medical specimens in the pathology collection. All proceeds from the event will go toward restoration works at the Grade II listed building.


Event: ‘The Life and Death of Marilyn Monroe’ evening seminar

Date: Wednesday 8 August 2012

Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm

Venue: St Bartholomew’s Pathology Museum

Robin Brook Centre, West Smithfield, London, EC1A 7BE

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