Brittany Murphy, the star of such films as Clueless and 8 Mile, has died, her publicist and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center have confirmed. The cause of death, reportedly, was cardiac arrest. Murphy was 32. “The sudden loss of our beloved Brittany is a terrible tragedy,” Murphy’s family said in a statement through the actress’ publicist, Nicole Perna. “She was our daughter, our wife, our love and a shining star. We ask you to respect our privacy at this time.” A hospital spokeswoman said Murphy was pronounced dead at 10:04 a.m. TMZ says a 911 call was made the morning of Dec. 20 from a home in Los Angeles that is listed as belonging to her husband, Simon Monjack. TMZ later reported that Murphy’s mother found the actress unconscious in the shower. A spokesman for the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office said an autopsy may be performed as early as today.
Born in Atlanta, Ga. and raised by her divorced mother, Sharon, in New Jersey, Murphy began her performing career early. She nabbed a singing role at age 9 in Les Miserables and had a manager by age 13. She moved to Hollywood and began racking up appearances in such TV series as Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, Blossom and Party of Five before landing a more permanent gig in 1997 as the voice of Luanne Platter in Fox’s animated hit King of the Hill. The big screen also beckoned with memorable appearances opposite Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, as well as roles in 8 Mile, Girl, Interrupted and Sin City. She kept up her singing, too, having formed the band Blessed Soul in the early ’90s with actor Eric Balfour.
Before her death, Murphy had several projects in development, including a role in Sylvester Stallone’s upcoming film, The Expendables, set for release next year, and Something Wicked, a thriller from director Darin Scott about a teen and his girlfriend, whose parents are killed. The actress once dated Ashton Kutcher and was engaged twice, including to talent manager Jeff Kwatinetz. She married White Hotel director Monjack in 2007 and told People last year that she was ready to have a baby. She is survived by Monjack and her mother, a breast cancer survivor, whom the actress once credited for 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.”
On Sunday, Kutcher tweeted 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.”
Murphy had been plagued by tabloid rumors of drug abuse in recent years. After appearing as a speed addict in the 2002 film Spun, Murphy was dogged by speculation that her extreme weight loss was due to a cocaine dependency. She denied the rumors in Jane Magazine in 2005. “No, just for the record I have never tried it in my entire life, I’ve never even seen it, and I don’t leave the house too much, except to go to work.” Funeral arrangements are pending.
Additional reporting by Archana Ram
More on Brittany Murphy’s life and career from EW:
Brittany Murphy: 10 roles we’ll remember her by
Brittany Murphy remembered by friends and colleagues
From the PopWatch archive:
Brittany Murphy: Is that you singing backup on ____? (2006)