Real Name: Margot Louise Hemingway
Case: Suspicious Death/Curse
Date: July 2, 1996
Location: Santa Monica, California
Details: By the age of nineteen, Margaux Hemingway was the highest paid model in the world. She was also an actress. However, she was best known for being the granddaughter of famed twentieth century writer Ernest Hemingway. In 1961, at the age of sixty-one, Ernest committed suicide with a shotgun. Almost thirty-five years to the day later, on July 2, 1996, Margaux was found dead in her Santa Monica, California apartment. She was forty-one. She had overdosed on a prescription drug Phenobarbital, which friends say she had taken in the past for epilepsy. Even though some disagreed, the coroner ruled her death a suicide. Tabloid headlines speculated that she had fallen victim to the so-called "Hemingway Curse".
Margaux's family members were known to "live on the edge" and many had killed themselves. She once claimed that she was "genetically programmed" for disaster. Her family history seemed to support her claim. Her great-grandfather Clarence killed himself in 1928. Thirty-three years later, Ernest did the same. In 1966, Ernest's sister Ursula also killed herself. In 1982, their brother Lester did the same. Margaux apparently became the next "victim". She was twice divorced, bulimic, and an admitted alcoholic.
There were apparently several parallels between the lives of Margaux and her grandfather Ernest. Like Ernest, Margaux ran away from home early in life and achieved fame at a young age. As the spokesperson for Faberge perfume, she was considered a "Jet Set glamour girl". Margaux's close friend Rani Stoler recalled that she was lively, friendly, and had great charisma. However, she apparently carried a "burden" with her fame. She felt that she didn't deserve it because she was literally born into it.
According to her friends, Margaux tried to live up to everyone's expectations of what a "Hemingway" should be. However, in reality, she just wanted to be herself. By 1976, she decided that she wanted to be an actress. Her first film was Lipstick in which her younger sister Mariel co-starred. For Margaux, it was a disastrous career move. She was treated very poorly by the media, which considered her a bad actor and a "disgrace" to the Hemingway name.
Meanwhile, Ernest apparently disliked the large amount of fame that he had brought upon himself. Both him and Margaux turned to alcohol to escape the pressure of fame. Drinking took a great toll on him; by the 1950s, he was barely writing at all. Some experts believe that he was also suffering from manic depression. He was never diagnosed; however, it is known that he voluntarily underwent electroshock therapy twice during the last year of his life.
By all accounts, Margaux recognized that she was on the same path to disaster. She decided to fight her addictions. In 1987, she admitted herself to the Betty Ford clinic. She apparently conquered her alcoholism and within months went public with her story. Her friend Rani noted that she was one of the few celebrities who was willing to publicly talk about the most painful and damaging aspects of her life. She apparently wanted to help other people who were also suffering from addictions.
In the early 1990s, Margaux attempted to revive her career, with limited success. Most of the roles offered to her were in low-budget straight-to-video movies. One of her last films was "Dangerous Cargo". Fellow actress Rosemarie Belden noticed that she was always laying down while on set. She apparently had trouble sleeping and was upset about not having a "soulmate". However, she appeared fine to her friend Rani. She was attending social functions, was dating, and her career was doing well. In fact, Rani spoke to her just a few days before her death and she seemed to be very happy.
Author Loren Coleman noted that before a person commits suicide, they often go through a false euphoria where everything seems to be going well in their life. He believes that Margaux went through the same thing before she died. Although her death was ruled a suicide, her friends and family insist that it could have been an accident. They believe that she may have accidentally taken too much of her epilepsy medication. The full circumstances surrounding her death may never be known.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the September 27, 1996 episode.
Loren Coleman, MSW, author of of the book, "Suicide Clusters" (Faber and Faber, 1987), appeared in the program to discuss the "Hemingway Curse," in which five members of the family had committed suicide.
Results: Unresolved. In a 2005 interview, Margaux's sister Mariel stated that she finally accepted the suicide ruling. However, others still believe that the full truth about her death has yet to be revealed.
- Margaux Hemingway at Wikipedia
- Body of Margaux Hemingway Found
- Hemingway's Death Shocks Friends
- Coroner Says Death of Actress Was Suicide
- What Killed Margaux Hemingway?
- Last Act - The death of troubled Margaux Hemingway is ruled a suicide
- Surviving Suicide of Loved One
- Mariel Hemingway reveals the story of her famous family haunted by depression, alcoholism and suicide in two new memoirs
- Margaux Hemingway on Find-a-Grave