Brittany Murphy's Death Prompts Tributes and Speculations

The 32-year-old star of 'Clueless' dies of cardiac arrest, sparking immediate speculation about the causes of her death

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Brown-eyed starlet Brittany Murphy was found unconscious in the shower over the weekend, reportedly dying of cardiac arrest at age 32. Stars are remembering Murphy as a sweet-dispositioned colleague, and an actress who accomplished an impressive amount in a short life. In the absence of an autopsy (which will be performed this week), many writers are speculating whether Murphy was killed by anorexia or a drug overdose, while gossip-blogger supreme Perez Hilton now reports that Murphy was ill before her death.

  • Celebrities Remember Her Warmth Larry Carroll at MTV provides an excellent collection of statements from friends and acquaintances of Murphy, including "Clueless" co-star Alicia Silverstone: "I always felt connected to her as we shared a very special experience in our lives together...This is truly sad ... I loved working with Brittany. She was so talented, so warm and so sweet." The AP quotes her ex-boyfriend Ashton Kutcher on Twitter: "2day the world lost a little piece of sunshine."
  • Inevitable Cocaine Speculation Begins... Andrew M Brown acknowledges in the Telegraph that "no one knows what caused Ms Murphy's early death," but nevertheless drops a few heavy insinuations. "One cause of sudden cardiac arrest in people in their thirties is heavy cocaine use. (Another, rare, cause of sudden death - especially in young women - is cardiac complications resulting from anorexia nervosa."
  • 'Quirky, Perky' Actress, writes Sarah Wheaton in the New York Times. "The actress's wide brown eyes and unrestrained, asymmetrical smile made her a frequent choice for the role of ditz with an edge."
  • Media Afraid to Report on Overdose Speculation, argues Jason Calacanis. He cites leading gossip-king Perez Hilton on the way to attacking mainstream sources for failing to report what everyone online is intimating: "We live in real time, and the speculation on Twitter
    and the blogs is that she was anorexic and addicted to drugs. Is that true? I have no idea.... CNN is well within their right to report on
    what blogs and twitter folks are saying."
  • Best Role? As Cartoon Actress, writes Matthew Greenberg at True/Slant. He praises the actress's gravelly, yet high-pitched voice, and says her best role was putting the voice to use as Luanne in "King of the Hill." "As the voice of Luanne for the show's entire 13-year run, Murphy brought naiveté and cluelessness to the role of Hank Hill's live-in niece, a girl whose mother was serving time for stabbing her father -- an incident that sent the trusting girl into the arms of many, many men in search of a replacement family."
  • An Elusive, Ambivalent Figure, writes Azaria Jagger in an excellent post at Defamer. "It was a fine career, but it didn't sit right...Murphy was described as "hot and cold" and "difficult"...Brittany Murphy, it seems, will die as she lived: ambivalently, a public figure that no one ever quite figured out how to pin down"
  • Anonymous Friends Unsurprised by Death, reports Gerald Posner in the Daily Beast. Posner interviews friends and highlights the seamy side of Murphy's life: "Virtually everyone I spoke with who knew her--none of whom would allow their names to be used--suggested that it was a given that she had a drug problem, involving both heroin and cocaine, though none admitted to directly seeing her use or abuse narcotics. 'She had too many drugs and too little food,' said a makeup artist who had worked with her, adding that she sometimes 'nodded off' in front of her."
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