The tragic, young death of actress Brittany Murphy brings with it the speculations which are commonplace for those who live in the public eye. The assistant coroner said it looks like natural causes and her husband Simon Monjack had requested that there would be no autopsy but the authorities have insisted. Her father, Angelo Bertolotti, has described her in these words: “”She was just an absolute doll since she was born … 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 gall.”
Known for films such as Clueless with Alicia Silverstone, 8 Mile, Girl Interrupted, Sin City, Riding in Cars with Boys and Happy Feet the media see Brittany as different to some other Hollywood starlets. They describe her as unique with plenty of charisma who shined with her own special looks and personality. She grew in front of her public from an awkward teenager to a confident young woman and seemed to only get better as she matured and gained recognition as an actress.
Brittany demonstrated great versatility in her movies. She said that she did not draw distinction between the characters that she played but her characters were “all using my tears and snot and sweat and bruises, just in different contexts…There are probably 800 people living inside of here, so they all pop out in different ways. It’s like me, myself and I.”
Born on 10th November 1977 (deceased 20th December 2009) Brittany was born in Georgia, Atlanta but moved with her mother Sharon to Edison, New Jersey, following her parents’ divorce. Aged five Brittany was a member of a school of dance and theatre. Quite young she started to try to persuade her mother to relocate to Hollywood for her career and when she began to get advertising jobs from her New York auditions her mother realised it was a good idea to relocate.
By the age of 14 she became a regular on the sitcom Drexell’s Class which was about a white collar criminal who makes a new start as a teacher. This was followed by more advertising and TV work until she was cast in Clueless as Tai. The film was a surprise box office success which launched her career as well as those of Alicia Silverstone, Donald Faison and Paul Rudd.
Her film career did not kick up immediately after Clueless instead she did some theatre work and television. It was in 1999 that she began a run of high profile movies. In Girl Interrupted she held her own well in a 1960s psychiatric institution amongst the likes of Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie, as a suicidal incest victim.
By 2001 she had reinvented herself by dying her hair blonde and losing a lot of weight, she was in Riding in Cars with Boys with Drew Barrymore, Steve Zahn and James Wood. She also returned to the psychiatric ward that year in Don’t Say a Word, where she stole the show a bit from Michael Douglas.
In 2002 she starred in 8 Mile which may have been a vehicle for Eminem but she still won herself acclaim as his love interest. Curtis Hanson the director of 9 Mile said of her that “She was a very special and vulnerable person. The honesty of her emotions made is so that her lines didn’t feel like scripted dialogue.”
Apart from her well known movies, those mentioned as well as Just Married (2003), indie movie Sin City there were others which opened on a small amount of screens and some which were more successful outside America. These were Phoenix, Trixie, The Audition, Cherry Falls and Love and Other Disasters. There are 14 of her 34 films released to date which were not shown on American cinema screens.
She also voiced many animated characters, including Luanne Platter on Fox’s “King of the Hill’’ and Gloria the penguin in the 2006 feature “Happy Feet.’’
The last few years of her career were considered to be less successful and there have been various rumours about her marriage and a possible cocaine habit. Whether there is any truth or not in the rumours is immaterial in the sense that many people in the media attract plenty of rumours untrue and true. What she deserves to be remembered for was the joy and entertainment she brought to other people, millions who never met her and those who personally knew her.