Brittany Murphy-Monjack (born Brittany Anne Bertolotti), known professionally as Brittany Murphy, was an American film and stage actress, singer, and voice artist. Murphy, a native of Atlanta, moved to Los Angeles as a teenager, and pursued a career in acting. Her breakthrough role was in Amy Heckerling's Clueless (1995), followed by supporting roles in independent films such as Freeway (1996) and Bongwater (1998).
She made her stage debut in a Broadway production of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge in 1997, and then appeared in James Mangold's drama Girl, Interrupted (1999), as well as the satire Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999).
The 2000's saw Murphy with roles in Don't Say a Word(2001) alongside Michael Douglas, and alongside Eminem in Curtis Hanson's 8 Mile (2002), for which she gained critical recognition. Her later roles included Riding in Cars with Boys (2001), the dark comedy crime film Spun (2002), Uptown Girls (2003) alongside Dakota Fanning, Sin City (2005), and Happy Feet (2006). Murphy also voiced Luanne Platter on the animated TV series King of the Hill. Her final film, Something Wicked, was released in April 2014.
Brittany Anne Bertolotti was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to Sharon Kathleen Murphy and Angelo Joseph Bertolotti, who divorced when she was two years old. Murphy was raised by her mother in Edison, New Jersey. Bertolotti was not named as her father on Brittany's first death certificate.Prior to her enrolling at Edison High School, the family moved to Los Angeles in 1991 so that Murphy could pursue an acting career. Murphy said her mother never tried to stifle her creativity, and she considered her mother a crucial factor in her later success: "When I asked my mom to move to California, she sold everything and moved out here for me. She always believed in me." Murphy said her mother never tried to stifle her creativity, and she considered her mother a crucial factor in her later success: "When I asked my mom to move to California, she sold everything and moved out here for me. She always believed in me." She was raised a Baptist and later became a non-denominational Christian. She had two older half-brothers and a younger half-sister.
Murphy attended Verne Fowler School of Dance and Theatre Arts inColonia, New Jersey, in 1982. From the age of four, she trained in singing, dancing, and acting until her move to California at thirteen.Murphy made her Broadway debut in 1997, as Catherine, in a revival ofArthur Miller's A View from the Bridge opposite veteran actors Anthony LaPaglia and Allison Janney.
Murphy landed her first job in Hollywood when she was thirteen, starring as Brenda Drexell in the series Drexell's Class. She then went on to play Molly Morgan in the short-lived The Torkelsons spinoff Almost Home. Murphy also guest-starred on several television series, including Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Blossom, seaQuest 2032, Murder One and Frasier. She also had recurring roles on Sister, Sister, Party of Five and Boy Meets World. Murphy's breakthrough role was in her second feature film, the teen comedy Clueless (1995), directed by Amy Heckerling, which went on to receive cult status. She followed this with roles in Freeway (1996), with Reese Witherspoon and Kiefer Sutherland, and the independent comedy Bongwater (1998). In 1999, she landed a supporting role in James Mangold's Girl, Interrupted (1999) as a troubled psychiatric patient alongside Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie; and as an aspiring beauty queen in Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999). She also voiced the character Luanne Platter on Fox's animated sitcom King of the Hill for the entirety of the show's run from 1997 to 2009, and Joseph Gribble until the fifth season. She was nominated for an Annie Award for voice acting in the King of the Hill episode "Movin' On Up".
Murphy's career also included work as a singer. She commented: "My singing voice isn't like my speaking voice...I've just always kept it a secret and never taken credit because I wanted to learn how to work behind the microphone in a recording studio, and some of the singers don't even know it was me recording on their albums." She was in a band called Blessed Soul with fellow actor Eric Balfour in the early 1990's. On June 6, 2006, Murphy and Paul Oakenfold released the single "Faster Kill Pussycat", from the album A Lively Mind. The song became a club hit, and hit number one on Billboard 's Hot Dance Club Play chart. It also hit number seven in Oakenfold's native United Kingdom in June 2006. She dabbled in music again with the release of the film Happy Feet, in which she covered Queen's "Somebody to Love" and Earth, Wind & Fire's "Boogie Wonderland". Murphy said about her character Gloria, "Oddly enough, of all the characters I've played, Gloria is the most like me. And she's a penguin! George Miller always wanted one person to do both [the speaking and the singing]. I said, 'I can sing,' and I asked him to give me a shot. I don't think he took me very seriously because most actors say they can do most things."
In late 2002, Murphy began dating Ashton Kutcher, her co-star in Just Married. Once engaged to talent manager Jeff Kwatinetz, Murphy became engaged to Joe Macaluso in December 2005, a production assistant she met while working on the film Little Black Book. In August 2006, they ended their engagement. In May 2007, Murphy married British screenwriter Simon Monjack in a private Jewish ceremony in Los Angeles. For the last three and a half years of her life, Murphy, her mother and Monjack lived together in the same house. In the early 2000's, Murphy lost a large amount of weight, which led to rumors of a cocaine addiction. In 2005, Murphy disputed such claims to Jane magazine, saying, "No, just for the record I have never tried it in my entire life." At this point, she had recently signed as the spokesmodel for Jordache jeans.
At 08:00 (16:00 GMT) on December 20, 2009, the Los Angeles Fire Department responded to "a medical request" at the Los Angeles home Murphy and Monjack shared. She had apparently collapsed in a bathroom. Firefighters attempted to resuscitate Murphy on the scene. She was transported to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she died at 10:04 after going into cardiac arrest. Shortly after her death, Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter told the Associated Press: "It appears to be natural." An autopsy was performed the day after she died. Her death certificate listed the cause of death as "deferred". On February 4, 2010, the Los Angeles County coroner stated that the primary cause of Murphy's death was pneumonia, with secondary factors of iron-deficiency anemia and multiple drug intoxication. On February 25, 2010, the coroner released a report stating that Murphy had been taking a range of over-the-counter and prescription medications, with the most likely reason being to treat a cold or respiratory infection. These included "elevated levels" of hydrocodone, acetaminophen, L-methamphetamine and chlorpheniramine. All of the drugs were legal and the death was ruled to be an accident, but the report observed: "the possible adverse physiological effects of elevated levels of these medications cannot be discounted, especially in her weakened state."