Family: Brittany Murphy had 'flu-like symptoms'

Credit: AP

Family: Brittany Murphy had 'flu-like symptoms'

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by Associated Press

kgw.com

Posted on December 21, 2009 at 9:23 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 21 at 6:24 PM

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- On Monday, Brittany Murphy’s family said the 32-year-old had been sick with flu-like symptoms in the days before her death. investigators also reported finding prescription drugs at the actress' Hollywood home.

Brittany Murphy, the actress who got her start in the sleeper hit "Clueless" and rose to stardom in "8 Mile," died in Los Angeles, apparently from natural causes, according to a preliminary coroner's report. She was 32.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Spokeswoman Sally Stewart said Murphy died at 10:04 a.m. Sunday. She would not provide a cause of death, or any other information.

Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said an autopsy had been conducted and officials were awaiting the results of toxicology and tissue testing before determining an official cause of death.

He says Murphy apparently collapsed in the bathroom Sunday morning, and authorities are looking into her medical history.

Winter says Murphy's family is cooperating with the coroner's investigation.

The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to a call at 8 a.m. Sunday from a home that is listed as belonging to British screenwriter Simon Monjack, who is married to Murphy, spokesman Devon Gale said. Gale said one person was transported to a hospital.

Los Angeles police have opened an investigation into Murphy's death, Officer Norma Eisenman said Sunday afternoon. Investigators have been dispatched to Murphy's home in the hills of West Hollywood.

Neighbor Clare Staples said she saw firefighters working to resuscitate the actress Sunday morning. She said Murphy was on a stretcher and "looked as though she was dead at the scene."

Murphy's husband, wearing pajama bottoms and no shoes, appeared "dazed" as firefighters tried to save her, Staples said.

"It's just tragic," she said.

Murphy's father, Angelo Bertolotti, said he learned of her death from his son, the actress's brother, and was stunned.

"She was just an absolute doll since she was born," Bertolotti said from his Branford, Fla., home. "Her personality was always outward. Everybody loved her -- people that made movies with her, people on a cruise -- they all loved her. She was just a regular gal."

He said he hadn't heard much about the circumstances of Murphy's death. Bertolotti divorced her mother when Murphy was young and hadn't seen Murphy in the past few years. He said he used to be in the mob and served prison time on federal drug charges.

 "She was just talented," he said. "And I loved her very much."

Messages left for Murphy's manager, agent and publicist by The Associated Press weren't immediately returned.

Her family issued a statement that read "In this time of sadness, the family thanks you for your love and  support. It is their wish that you respect their privacy."

Reuters reported that she was recently fired from the movie "The Caller," which is filming in Puerto Rico. Her publicist said the split was a result of  "creative differences." When she and Monjack, returned to Los Angeles, he fell unconscious on the plane and was rushed to hospital. Murphy had also recently filmed a movie called "Something Wicked" in Oregon.

Murphy had recently been photographed in an emaciated state at public events, according to Reuters.

Born Nov. 10, 1977 in Atlanta, Murphy grew up in New Jersey and later moved with her mother to Los Angeles to pursue acting.

Her career started in the early 1990s with small roles in television series, commercials and movies. She is best known for parts in "Girl, Interrupted," "Clueless" and "8 Mile."

Her on-screen roles declined in recent years, but Murphy's voice gave life to numerous animated characters, including Luanne Platter on more than 200 episodes of Fox's "King of the Hill" and Gloria the penguin in "Happy Feet."

She is due to appear in Sylvester Stallone's upcoming film, "The Expendables," set for release next year.

Her role in "8 Mile" led to more recognition, Murphy told The Associated Press in 2003. "That changed a lot," she said. "That was the difference between people knowing my first and last name as opposed to not."

Murphy credited her mother, Sharon, with being a key to her success.

"When I asked my mom to move to California, she sold everything and moved out here for me," Murphy told the AP in 2003. "I was really grateful to have grown up in an environment that was conducive to creating and didn't stifle any of that. She always believed in me."

She dated Ashton Kutcher, who costarred with Murphy in 2003's romantic comedy "Just Married."

Kutcher tweeted Sunday morning about Murphy's death: "2day the world lost a little piece of sunshine," Kutcher wrote. "My deepest condolences go out 2 Brittany's family, her husband, & her amazing mother Sharon."

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