Whether you knew her by her wide-eyed, pretty face or her distinctive voice, Brittany Murphy had a thriving career on both big and small screens during the 1990s and 2000s. Not only that, but Murphy was also musically inclined, pursuing her passion for music with an equal determination to her acting career. While she passed away tragically in 2009, her accomplishments ensure that her legacy cannot be ignored or forgotten. Here are 45 heartbreaking facts about Brittany Murphy.
1. Traveling the Country
Brittany Murphy was born in Atlanta on November 10, 1977. After her parents’ divorce when she was just two years old, she went on to attend school in New Jersey before then moving to California at the age of 13.
2. Renaissance Woman
Many know that Brittany Murphy had a singing career, having recorded a hit dance song with Paul Oakenfold, but few know that she was also able to play the trumpet and piano.
3. Background Check
Although she was born in the US, Brittany Murphy had Irish, Italian, and Slovak background through her grandparents.
4. Name Your Heroes
Brittany Murphy claimed a number of inspirations for her career, including Barbra Streisand and Diana Ross, but one of her idols was another tragic Hollywood star: none other than the legendary Judy Garland. She also once named Lionel Ritchie as her guardian angel.
5. Sing Your Heart Out!
Thanks to Murphy’s musical talents, she not only provided voice acting for the character of Gloria in Happy Feet, but also provided her own singing voice for the film’s soundtrack, covering Queen’s “Somebody to Love” and Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Boogie Wonderland.”
6. Brand Recognition
One low-key task Murphy’s character has in the film Sin City is tying the movie into the rest of Robert Rodriguez’s filmography. In one scene, her character is holding a bottle of beer labeled “Chango.” This same brand appears in Rodriguez’ prior films Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn.
7. Movie Pair-Up
After co-starring with him in the film Just Married, Brittany Murphy began a relationship with actor Ashton Kutcher. Despite rumors that the couple were engaged, the relationship allegedly lasted less than a year before they broke up.
8. Final Parting
The last time Ashton Kutcher saw Brittany Murphy was when he was in the middle of producing a television series, and he invited her to become involved—this was after both of them had gotten married to other people. Murphy had a meeting with him just a few months prior to her tragic passing.
9. Second Voice
It’s safe to say that Luanne on the long-running animated sitcom King of the Hill was one of Murphy’s most popular and well-known roles. However, that wasn’t her only contribution to the voicework on King of the Hill. She also provided the pre-teen voice for Joseph Gribble.
10. The People You Know
Interestingly, the role of Joseph Gribble was taken over from Murphy by Breckin Meyer after Joseph’s character hit puberty. Murphy and Meyer had previously worked together on Clueless.
11. Life Imitating Art
One of Murphy’s more critically acclaimed performances was in the film 8 Mile, which starred rapper Eminem playing a character loosely based on himself and his life. Murphy played Alex, the love interest of Eminem’s character, Jimmy. Murphy later stated that during production, she and Eminem became romantically involved off-camera as well.
12. Last Role
Murphy’s final film appearance was in the horror-thriller film Something Wicked. Although it was filmed prior to Murphy’s death in 2009, the film spent five years in development before it was released in 2014.
13. Parlez Vous Francais?
While Brittany Murphy couldn’t speak French, she managed to learn French lines phonetically for the movie Just Married.
14. Movie Stand-In
Brittany Murphy starred in two indie films directed by Edward Burns: Sidewalks of New York and The Groomsmen. In the case of the latter, she played the love interest of the character played by Burns himself. In a case of art imitating life, Murphy’s character, Sue, is five months pregnant when she is set to marry Burns’ character, just like Burns’ wife, Christy Turlington, was when they married in real life.
15. Good News and Bad News
At one point in her career, Brittany Murphy won the role of a lifetime—and one that fellow actors Courtney Love and Emily Watson had been vying for. It was the part of Janis Joplin for a biopic on the legendary singer. Unfortunately, the issue of rights to Joplin’s music became tangled in legal troubles, and the film was never made.
16. I’m Just That Good
Brittany Murphy, alongside a slew of other acclaimed actors, appeared in the Robert Rodriguez film Sin City, a violent noir based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller. The film is broken up into three main storylines, with Murphy’s character appearing in all three of them. However, despite this prominent role, Murphy managed to film all of her footage for the movie in a single day.
17. See You Soon!
Speaking of Sin City and its large cast, one actor who appears in the film is Elijah Wood. Though they never share any scenes together, Murphy and Wood would later play love interests in the film Happy Feet just a year later.
18. Creepy Coincidence
In a rather haunting note, Murphy’s high school prom date was none other than Jonathan Brandis. Both would go on to become well-known actors who infamously died at a young age.
In the 1990s, Murphy joined actor Eric Balfour when she appeared in a band called Blessed Soul.
20. That Was Lucky!
In 1999, Brittany Murphy co-starred in the Oscar-nominated film Girl, Interrupted, following a number of young women who are committed to a psychiatric hospital for various reasons. Murphy won praise for the tragic character of Daisy, but her casting almost never happened. She was only given the role after the original actress, Leelee Sobieski, dropped out due to scheduling issues.
21. We Both Love to Swim
Of all the characters that Murphy played in her lifetime, she alleged that the character she thought was most like her was Gloria in Happy Feet, despite the fact that the character was a penguin.
22. In Her Name
Following her death, the Brittany Murphy Foundation was established. This organization serves as a charitable fund for children’s education, as well as supporting cancer research. This is in reference to the fact that not only is Murphy’s mother a breast cancer survivor, but Murphy herself had had a breast cancer scare at one point in her life.
23.Thick as Thieves
After her parents’ divorce, Brittany Murphy lived primarily with her mother Sharon. With her mom’s encouragement, she began her stage career when the pair lived in New Jersey. Murphy always said that her mother was her greatest champion, and the two remained close for the rest of Murphy’s life—Sharon was even living with Murphy and her husband Simon Monjack at the time of Murphy’s death.
24. Sitcom Star
Before her breakout role in Clueless, Brittany Murphy appeared in small parts in some of the most iconic TV shows of the 90s, including Frasier, Blossom, Party of Five, and Boy Meets World.
25. Going Clear-ly Clueless
The film that made Brittany Murphy a star was the cult favorite 1995 film Clueless, where she played Tai, a misguided but strong new classmate of the main character, Cher. At the time, Murphy beat future King of Queens star Leah Remini for the part.
26. Bizarre Love Triangle
While Brittany Murphy and Eminem were romantically linked during the making of 8 Mile, something that Murphy admitted to during an interview on the Late Show With David Letterman. What fewer people know is that Eminem was also alleged to have an on-set dalliance with Kim Basinger, who played his mother in the film.
27. Third Time’s the Charm
Before her eventual marriage to Simon Monjack, Brittany Murphy was briefly engaged twice—first to talent manager Jeff Kwatinetz, and then to production assistant Joe Macaluso.
28. Stiff Competition
Brittany Murphy wasn’t the only actress considered for the role of Alex in 8 Mile. Christina Ricci, Taryn Manning, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Eliza Dushku (the latter two of whom were best known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer) were all up for the part. Alicia Silverstone, Murphy’s Clueless co-star, was also a possibility.
29. Red Bottoms
Murphy claimed that she never wore flats, only heels, and that she owned 50 pairs of Christian Louboutins, saying that they fit like a glove.
30. The Beginning of the End
In the early 2000s, dark rumors began to swirl about Brittany Murphy. Many noticed that she had lost a lot of weight, and gossip spread that she had an eating disorder—but it got worse.
31. That’s Not Me
Some tabloids speculated that Murphy had a substance abuse problem, and that it was the reason for her appearance. For her part, Murphy shot back, saying that she didn’t have an eating disorder, and that she hadn’t touched an illegal substance in her life, saying that her only vice was “a glass of champagne now and then.”
Once, in an interview, Murphy revealed scandalous details about her first time, saying, “I lost my virginity in a car. But it wasn’t a very nice one.” Was she talking about the experience or the car itself?
33. You’ve Got a Fan in Me
Film critic Roger Ebert had a soft spot for Brittany Murphy and saw her potential as a comic actress in the vein of Lucille Ball. He cited an instance where Murphy presented an award at the Independent Spirit Awards that many would’ve seen as bizarre or troubling behavior. He said that she acted like she was completely lost, letting it get off the rails to the point where the audience and stage manager had to intervene.
Ebert called it an example of “screwball improvisational comedy.”
34. In the Flower of Her Youth
On December 20, 2009, a wave of heartbreaking and shocking news rippled throughout Hollywood. Brittany Murphy had passed away at the tragically young age of 32. While the cause was originally listed as natural causes, a subsequent report blamed her death on “a combination of pneumonia, anemia, and prescription and over-the-counter drugs.”
35. Heartbreaking Tribute
After Murphy’s tragic passing, Clueless star Alicia Silverstone paid tribute to her co-star, saying that she’d always felt connected to her, due to the shared experience of making the film at a young age. She called Murphy “so talented, so warm, and so sweet.”
36. Strange Bedfellows
Among the more bizarre claims that emerged after the passing of Brittany Murphy? There were reports that Murphy’s mother Sharon and her widower Simon Monjack shared a bed after Murphy’s death. All we’ve got to say is: yikes.
37. Till Death Do Us Part
After such a terrible tragedy, it was hard to believe that it was followed up with news that made the heartbreak of the loss even more horrible. Five months after Murphy’s death, her husband, Simon Monjack, passed in the same bedroom that Murphy had died in. In a disturbing coincidence, the cause of his passing was also listed as pneumonia and anemia.
38. What’s to Blame?
After the loss of both Brittany Murphy and Simon Monjack, Murphy’s mother Sharon was determined to get to the bottom of the real causes of their death. Sharon Murphy has said that her daughter and son-in-law died due to a presence of toxic mold in their house—but the story doesn’t end there.
39. Who’s to Blame?
By contrast, Murphy’s father, Angelo Bertolotti, had toxicology tests done on Murphy’s hair and the results convinced him that she and her husband were poisoned. Bertolotti has yet to make an accusation on who that poisoner might have been, and it’s worth pointing out that Murphy’s mother, Sharon, and Bertolotti hotly dispute each other’s claims.
40. It Gets Weirder
After the passing of Murphy and her husband Simon Monjack, both of Murphy’s parents made disturbing claims about the potential causes of death, but few know about Murphy and Monjack’s bizarre alleged connection to a government whistleblower.
41. The Whistleblower
The tale is strange and complicated, so buckle in. In 2004, Former Department of Homeland Security officer Julia Davis reported an influx of people with “suspicious” backgrounds entering the US on July 4th to her superiors. Upon finding that most of them were on leave for the holiday, she escalated her report to the FBI.
It was then that Julia Davis alleged that DHS retaliated—and where Brittany Murphy comes in.
42. Watch Out
Davis claims that she was close friends with Murphy, and that Murphy even testified on her behalf during her litigation against the government. She says that, as a result, Murphy and Monjack were put on a DHS watch list and that Monjack, who was British, was targeted for deportation.
43. Suspicious Minds
Davis produced a documentary about her experiences titled Top Priority: The Terror Within in 2012. In it, it’s claimed that Simon Monjack suspected that he and his wife were under surveillance and had had their phones bugged by the government, and that a few days after Monjack made his suspicions public, Murphy died.
44. The Saga Continues…
After the release of Top Priority, Davis announced that she’d produce a biopic about Murphy’s life and death titled Britt—with none other than Angelo Bertolotti, Murphy’s father, working as one of the writers.
45. That’s a No For Me
It’s worth noting that Murphy’s mother Sharon has refuted all of Davis’s claims about her daughter, saying that “Brittany never cooperated with Julia Davis, never signed any statement in support of her, never met with her and barely knew she existed.”