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Autopsy planned to help shed light on death of Brittany Murphy

December 21, 2009 |  6:44 am

L.A. coroner's officials plan to perform an autopsy on the body of Brittany Murphy on Tuesday. The hope is to shed some light on the sudden death of the 32-year-old actress Sunday at her Hollywood Hills home.

Murphy, who starred in "Clueless," "8 Mile" and other films, collapsed Sunday morning and was pronounced dead a short time later at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Both the L.A. coroner's office and the Los Angeles Police Department spent Sunday looking into her medical history and other factors that could be related to her death.

Police said there is no evidence to suggest foul play -- but it's unclear whether an underlying medical condition might have caused or contributed to her death.

Authorities said Murphy was taking prescription drugs for medical ailments but would not be more specific.

Murphy appeared upbeat at a Dec. 3 fashion event, in what may have been her final public appearance. She told Access Hollywood at the event: "As far as having a New Year's resolution, I'd love to have a child next year."

Los Angeles firefighters responded to a medical call about 8 a.m. at the 8,000-square-foot home Murphy shared with her husband, British screenwriter Simon Monjack, in the hills above the Sunset Strip.

There were conflicting reports as to whether Murphy was discovered by Monjack or her mother.

Firefighters tried unsuccessfully to revive Murphy on the way to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead about two hours later.

Los Angeles police are investigating the cause of Murphy's death, said Officer Norma Eisenman. Investigators and coroner's officials were at her home Sunday as paparazzi camped outside.

Reached at his home in northern Florida, Murphy's father, Angelo Bertolotti, said he learned of her death Sunday morning from his son (Murphy's half-brother), who read it on the Internet.

"It's too shocking and too fast," Bertolotti said in a phone interview. "It just doesn't make sense to me. As we speak, I am staring at a picture of her. I just can't believe it. Can't convince myself she's gone."

Bertolotti, who described himself as a "retired mobster" who now works in the movie business, said he and Sharon Murphy divorced when Brittany was 4. He last saw his daughter about three years ago.

Bertolotti said his daughter was very close to her mother.

"They were inseparable," he said.

A statement from Murphy's family released late Sunday by her publicist, Nicole Perna, called the actress' death "a terrible tragedy."

"She was our daughter, our wife, our love and a shining star," the statement said. "We ask you to respect our privacy at this time."

Born Nov. 10, 1977, in Atlanta, Murphy moved to Burbank with her mother when she was 13.

After rising to prominence in the 1995 film "Clueless," Murphy appeared in the Winona Ryder-Angelina Jolie drama "Girl, Interrupted" and the Michael Douglas thriller "Don't Say a Word."

A series of lighter roles followed the 2002 drama "8 Mile," including a lead role opposite Ashton Kutcher in the 2003 romantic comedy "Just Married."

Murphy also lent her voice to animated characters, including Luanne Platter on the Fox TV show "King of the Hill" and Gloria the penguin in the 2006 feature "Happy Feet."

-- Andrew Blankstein and Ching-Ching Ni

Photo: Brittany Murphy in 2005. Credit: Alessandro Abbonizio / AFP/Getty Images

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