South Valley conspiracy in Marilyn Monroe’s death?

Marilyn Monroe

If you attended the Morgan Hill Independence Day parade, you might have got a glimpse of screen goddess Marilyn Monroe. She wore a sensuous pink dress, sat in a convertible and waved with movie star poise. She might have even blown you a kiss. The 1950s-era actress is often impersonated by Morgan Hill resident Laurren Cowan. But our South Valley region has a true Marilyn Monroe connection, one involving a conspiratorial tale with no happy Hollywood ending.
The real Marilyn Monroe was found dead by her housekeeper on Aug. 4, 1962, naked in bed in her Brentwood home. The Los Angeles County Coroner considered her death at age 36 a “probable suicide” by “acute barbiturate poisoning.”
Last weekend on the 50th anniversary of Monroe’s death, articles and opinion pieces discussed the movie legend’s tragic demise. Some commentators brought up the decades-old conspiracy that President Kennedy and his brother Robert were both romantically involved with Monroe, leading to a complex political-sexual entanglement. Their affairs ended in her murder by the mafia and an intricate cover-up that included the Los Angeles police.
A cottage industry of Marilyn Monroe murder-conspiracy books has grown in the last five decades. They include “The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe” by Donald H. Wolfe, “Marilyn Monroe: A Case for Murder” by Jay Margolis and “Marilyn at Rainbow’s End: Sex, Lies, Murder and the Great Cover-Up” by Darwin Porter. The popular account describes gang boss Sam Giancana, connected to the Kennedys through mutual friend Frank Sinatra, sending five of his thugs to Marilyn’s home. The men knocked her out with a chloroform-laced napkin, than gave her a barbiturate enema to kill her without leaving suspicious bruise marks.
Robert Kennedy, then the attorney general, plays an important role in the sordid plot. According to Wolfe’s book, shortly before 11 a.m. on Aug. 4, 1962, a helicopter landed at the Fox studio’s helipad near Stage 14. Studio publicist Frank Neill, working that Saturday morning, told Wolfe he saw Kennedy jump out of the helicopter and rush to a dark grey limousine waiting nearby. Neill got a glimpse of movie star Peter Lawford, brother-in-law to the Kennedys, sitting inside. Other documented accounts, including one by former Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty relating what former Police Chief William Parker told him, have Kennedy and Lawford at the Beverly Hilton Hotel that afternoon.
What was Kennedy’s alibi that weekend Monroe died? He and his family were enjoying a quiet vacation at the Bates Ranch on Redwood Retreat Road in the rural region between Morgan Hill and Gilroy.
The Associated Press reported that Kennedy and his wife Ethel and four of their children arrived at the San Francisco Airport on Friday afternoon on Aug. 3. Kennedy had come to California to give the opening speech at an American Bar Association conference in San Francisco that Monday. The Kennedys traveled 60 miles south to the South Valley ranch owned by John Bates, a close friend of President Kennedy and Robert. While a law student at Stanford in 1940, Bates had met John Kennedy through a mutual friend. He grew close with the Kennedy clan, often invited as a guest at Robert’s Hickory Hill home in McLean, Va. After his election in 1960, President Kennedy offered Bates a position in his administration leading the Anti-trust Division of the Department of Justice. Bates declined the position, preferring to continue working at his California law firm.
According to Bates, his family members and employed staff, Robert spent all his time relaxing with his family at the Bates Ranch from Friday afternoon to Monday morning that August 1962 weekend. The Kennedys went on a Saturday morning horseback ride into the hills, followed by a noon-time pool swim and barbecue. In the afternoon, Robert organized a touch football game. On Sunday, the Kennedys attended the 9:30 a.m. Mass at St. Mary’s Church in Gilroy.
Bates told Monroe’s biographer Donald Spoto in 1992, “The attorney general and his family were with us every minute from Friday afternoon to Monday and there is simply no physical way that he could have gone to Southern California and returned.”
The various books trying to make the case that Monroe was murdered by the mafia with the involvement of the U.S. Attorney General create wildly byzantine reading. Conspiracy stories of a massive political cover-up winding all the way to the White House become bestsellers. But frankly, the Monroe “murder” story seems too tortuous. It implausibly requires that the U.S. Attorney General be in two locations at the same time. It also requires too many lies from too many people – including the Kennedy and Bates family members.
Monroe had an unhappy life. Sadly, she felt the need to end it 50 years ago. Let her rest in peace.

Leave your comments