The Final Difficult Days of Brittany Murphy

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A year after her death, Alex Ben Block details her struggles to revive her once-promising career -- and, for the first time, shares his interviews with her late husband and mother.

On May 23, five months after his wife, Simon died in the same bedroom at age 40, curiously from similar causes: acute pneumonia and severe anemia. He too  had been taking a lot of prescription drugs, but the coroner ruled that out as a direct cause of death. Even so, Simon’s drug use and doctor shopping, along with that of Corey Haim and others, is under investigation by a multi-agency task force led by the California Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement. It is looking into celebrity abuse of prescription meds, doctor shopping and the use of aliases.

It is impossible to know if Brittany might still be alive had Simon not come along. However, it seems obvious that he brought out her worst traits and contributed to an atmosphere that was ultimately deadly to her. Rex Beaber, a L.A. clinical psychologist and attorney, didn’t know Simon but says after hearing his story that his behavior was consistent with a sociopathic personality disorder. He called what happened to Brittany “an age-old story you see commonly with people who meet narcissistic personalities and people who are sociopathic. They have a kind of blood instinct for the weakness of people around them.”

In his way, Simon did love her, but that was part of his sickness. He was mentally ill and couldn’t help preying on her at a time when she was highly susceptible to his oily charm, false promises and outright lies.

Still, even knowing the truth about Simon, I can understand from my own hours talking with him how seductive he could be. He would look you in the eye and tell his tall tales with such sincerity, and he always had an excuse for anything bad said about him. And for his myriad faults, Simon was transformed in his final days with Brittany.

“I don’t think I can be damaged any more than I have been,” Simon told me. “When ‘freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose,’ as my wife would quote Janis Joplin, I’ve lost the only thing that really mattered to me. I lived and breathed my wife. She was the light of my life.”

Now the light has gone dark for both of them. 

For a gallery of Brittany Murphy photos, click here; to watch an exclusive video retrospective of Murphy's career, click here.

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