Page last updated at 07:10 GMT, Monday, 21 December 2009

US actress Brittany Murphy dies aged 32


Clips from Brittany Murphy's career (footage courtesy Paramount Pictures)

Actress Brittany Murphy, star of Hollywood films such as Clueless and 8 Mile, has died at the age of 32 after collapsing at home in Los Angeles.

Coroners said that Murphy, who was pronounced dead in hospital, appeared to have died of natural causes.

The Reuters news agency is reporting that the actress died of a cardiac arrest.

Ashton Kutcher, co-star of the 2003 comedy Just Married, paid tribute to her as a "little piece of sunshine".

The official cause of death may not be determined for some time as toxicology tests are required.

Murphy was pronounced dead at 1004 (1804 GMT) on Sunday at a hospital near Beverly Hills.

Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter confirms the death of Brittany Murphy

She had been taken there after the Los Angeles Fire Department responded to a call at the Hollywood Hills home she shared with her husband, British screenwriter Simon Monjack.

She is reported to have been found unconscious in the shower.

Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said the authorities were looking into her medical history.

"It appears to be natural," he added.

Los Angeles police have opened an investigation into the death.

'An absolute doll'

A neighbour, Clare Staples, said she had seen firefighters working to resuscitate the actress on Sunday morning, The Associated Press reports.

The home of Simon Monjack, Brittany Murphy's husband, seen on 20 December
Murphy collapsed at her home

The actress's husband, wearing pyjama bottoms and no shoes, appeared "dazed" as the firefighters tried to save her, Ms Staples added.

Murphy's father, Angelo Bertolotti, said: "She was just an absolute doll since she was born.

"Her personality was always outward. Everybody loved her - people that made movies with her, people on a cruise - they all loved her."

Murphy's publicist released a statement on behalf of her family.

"The sudden loss of our beloved Brittany is a terrible tragedy. She was our daughter, our wife, our love and a shining star. We ask you to respect our privacy at this time."

Kutcher, who once dated the actress, paid tribute to her on Twitter: "2day the world lost a little piece of sunshine."

"My deepest condolences go out 2 Brittany's family, her husband, & her amazing mother Sharon," he added.

Murphy left the production of indie film The Caller earlier this month. Her agent said she had quit because of "creative differences".

Going to California

Born in Atlanta, Murphy grew up in New Jersey but moved to Los Angeles with her mother to pursue acting.

Brittany Murphy and husband Simon Monjack in LA 2007
Murphy was married to British screenwriter Simon Monjack

"When I asked my mom to move to California, she sold everything and moved out here for me," Murphy once said.

"I was really grateful to have grown up in an environment that was conducive to creating and didn't stifle any of that."

The actress got her start in the sleeper hit Clueless and rose to stardom in 8 Mile alongside rapper Eminem.

Speaking to the BBC about 8 Mile, she said: "What I love is the way it explores the willingness to get out of where you are, and the fact that you actually can make it, no matter what."

Her on-screen roles declined in recent years but Murphy voiced characters for the hit US television series King of the Hill and animated movie Happy Feet.

She is due to appear in Sylvester Stallone's film, The Expendables, set for release next year.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

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Cape TimesWorld loses 'a little piece of sunshine' as actress Brittany Murphy dies suddenly - 3 hrs ago Obituary: Brittanny Murphy (1977-2009) - 10 hrs ago
Sydney Morning Herald Brittany Murphy autopsy complete - 12 hrs ago
New Zealand Herald Brittany Murphy ill days before death - family - 18 hrs ago
Washington PostSNL skit pulled from after actress dies - 19 hrs ago
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