Brittany Murphy dies of heart attack aged 32

Actor starred in 8 Mile and Clueless and had big parts in Sin City and Girl, Interrupted

Brittany Murphy, the actor who specialised in playing disturbed young women in a series of films that had an echo of her own troubled life, has died of a heart attack aged 32.

Her death was first reported by the entertainment website TMZ which said an emergency call was made at 8am today from the Los Angeles home of her husband, Simon Monjack. Her mother had found her unconscious in the shower, and when paramedics arrived they found she was in full cardiac arrest and attempted to revive her.

She was pronounced dead on arrival at Cedars-Sinai medical centre.

Murphy began acting as a child. She had a role in a musical version of Les Misérables when she was nine, and played her first Hollywood role – as Brenda Drexell in Drexell's Class – at 14.

Her breakthrough came four years later with Clueless, a modern rendition of Jane Austen's Emma, in which she starred alongside Alicia Silverstone.

Other big parts followed including Girl, Interrupted, Don't Say a Word, Uptown Girls and Sin City.

In 2002 she acted in 8 Mile alongside the rapper Eminem. As a sideline, she dabbled in pop music with the 2006 hit Faster Kill Pussycat.

In parallel to the successes there were periodic reports of health and other problems. Four years ago she was forced to deny to Jane magazine that her recent weight loss was connected to cocaine use. "Wow. No, just for the record I have never tried it in my entire life, I've never even seen it …My worst vice is caffeine. Can you imagine? My God. I think my heart would explode," she said.

Last month Monjack, a British screenwriter, was rushed to hospital having been taken ill on a plane. Murphy told medical staff she thought it had been an asthma attack but they were reported to think it more serious, though the causes were not made public.

A few days later Murphy abruptly left the production of her latest film The Caller. Her PR agents said she had quit because of "creative differences" but entertainments sites reported she had been dropped from the film because she was difficult to work with on set in Puerto Rico and Monjack had allegedly fought with local people.

Contributor

Ed Pilkington in New York

The GuardianTramp

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