Brittany Murphy (November 10, 1977 - December 20, 2009) was an American actress and singer. Born in New Jersey, Murphy moved to Los Angeles at the age of 14 with her mother Sharon, in the hopes of landing acting roles. She quickly landed spots in commercials and guest starring roles on television, and appeared as a series regular on two short-lived family sitcoms, Drexell's Class and Almost Home. But it wasn't until 1995 that Murphy became something of a household name, winning the role of the "tragically unhip" new girl Tai in the era-defining teen classic Clueless.
Following the film's breakout success, Murphy embarked on a string of scene-stealing character roles, as quirky head-cases in films like Drop Dead Gorgeous and Riding in Cars with Boys, or as mentally disturbed young women in films including Freeway and the Oscar-winning drama Girl, Interrupted. She also nabbed a lucrative starring role in the long-running animated comedy King of the Hill, which ran from 1997 to 2010. In 2001, Murphy broke out as a leading lady with a memorable role in the Michael Douglas thriller Don't Say a Word, before bagging the female lead in the critically-acclaimed box office smash 8 Mile. Soon after, Murphy grew in-demand as a comedy star, appearing alongside Ashton Kutcher in Just Married, and headlining comedies Uptown Girls and Little Black Book.
She also stole scenes in Robert Rodriguez's comic book adaptation Sin City, and supplied the voice for singing penguin Gloria in Happy Feet. She also set in motion a singing career of her own, finally capitalising on the vocal chops that had in 2000 landed her the highly-coveted role of Janis Joplin in an ultimately aborted biopic of the tragic singer. Faster Kill Pussycat, her collaboration with DJ Paul Oakenfold, became an international hit on the dance charts.
In late 2005, Murphy was dropped by her management at ICM, on the heels of tabloid rumors about her shifting weight and accusations of drug use. Murphy's publicists had, earlier in the year, released a statement to the media denying all claims. But the behind-the-scenes chaos soured Murphy's reputation within the industry, and she would go on to struggle professionally. Later films included the low-budget thrillers Deadline and Something Wicked, and SyFy TV movie Megafault, produced by schlock maestros The Asylum. Hopes of a mainstream comeback were also dashed when she was replaced in Happy Feet Two by the singer Pink, while a supporting role in The Expendables was written out at script stage.
It was during this time that Murphy married film producer Simon Monjack, despite warnings from industry figures about his background. In 2009, Murphy was fired from the set of the supernatural thriller The Caller. Less than a month later, the Los Angeles Fire Department responded to a "medical request" at the home Murphy shared with Monjack and her mother. Murphy had reportedly collapsed, and despite attempts to resuscitate her at the scene, she was pronounced dead upon arrival at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Murphy was found to have died from pneumonia, anaemia and multiple prescription drug intoxication. Despite the findings, Murphy's father, Angelo Bertolotti, continues to fight for a new investigation into her passing.