Brittany Murphy’s sudden, tragic death at the age of 32 in 2009 will serve as the basis of the upcoming HBO Max documentary What Happened, Brittany Murphy? Out on October 14, the two-part doc will chronicle the star’s early success in Hollywood, her self-image struggles, and her confounding death, which has been attributed to pneumonia and anemia.
Brittany’s mother Sharon has long been at the center of it all, having found her daughter’s body in the Hollywood Hills home they shared and being at the center of fan conspiracy theories that have considered her a suspect. HBO Max’s doc similarly puts the Murphy matriarch under a lens, examining her relationship with her son-in-law Simon Monjack before he eerily died of the same causes five months after Brittany’s death.
Below is everything to know about Brittany’s elusive mother, Sharon.
Sharon made the 911 call for her daughter (and her son-in-law months later)
During the time of her death, Brittany resided in a home in the Hollywood Hills (purchased from none other than pop star Britney Spears) with her mother and her husband, Simon. It was Sharon who found her daughter unconscious in her bathroom in December 2009, prompting her to make the frantic 911 call. In an eery twist, Brittany’s husband Simon died of the same cause, pneumonia, in the same home just five months later in May 2010, prompting Sharon to make her second 911 call for her son-in-law, too.
Sharon disputed claims that Brittany was poisoned after her ex-husband suggested it
Before his death in 2019, Brittany’s father Angelo Bertolotti had been vocal about his suspicions surrounding his daughter’s death, claiming that he believed foul play had occurred. Angelo had obtained his daughter’s DNA via hair and tissue and tested them for “heavy metals and toxins” in 2013, leading to his conclusion. Sharon shot back at her ex-husband in an open letter penned for The Hollywood Reporter, accusing Angelo of “inexcusable efforts to smear my daughter’s memory.” She accused him of being an absent father seeking to capitalize on their daughter’s death, writing of Brittany’s death: “We will never know for sure. However, we do know the Los Angeles County Coroner did extensive tests and found that she died of natural causes. And now she is a real living angel in heaven.”
Sharon was rumored to be involved with her son-in-law
Following Brittany’s death, rumors and reports were abound that Sharon and Simon were romantically involved. The HBO Max doc also delves into initial reports that Sharon and Simon slept in the same bed following the actress’ death, according to close sources and a Radar Online reporter who spoke to Simon at his home following Brittany’s death. In 2010, Sharon denied romance rumors to PEOPLE, calling them “disgusting.” She said, “We’re close friends and we’re family. It’s an awful and ridiculous thing to say.”
Sharon planned to move to New York with Simon following Brittany’s death
About three months after Brittany’s death and just a few months before his own death, Simon told E! News in March 2010 that he and his mother-in-law planned to sell the home they shared with the late actress and move to New York. “I decided to move back to my apartment in New York as had been my plan with Brittany,” he said. “Sharon said that she always loved New York and L.A. is just too painful for her; so would I mind if she moved too? Of course I don’t.” He added, “But I should point out we will be maintaining separate residences.” The outlet noted that they will “share custody” of Brittany’s Maltese, Clara. “We have been to hell and back together, and we will need each other’s support as we continue to grieve,” Simon said. Following his death, Sharon has remained largely out of the public eye.