LOS ANGELES - The unexpected death of 32-year-old Brittany Murphy, who gained fame in such movies as 8 Mileand Just Married, appeared to be from natural causes but police are investigating, officials said.
Murphy died on Sunday morning at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to the hospital.
She was taken to the medical centre after the fire department responded to an earlier call at the home she shared with her husband, British screenwriter Simon Monjack, in the Hollywood Hills.
Assistant chief coroner Ed Winter said Murphy apparently collapsed in the bathroom, and authorities were looking into her medical history.
An official cause of death might not be determined for some time since toxicology tests will be required, but "it appears to be natural", Winter said. He said an autopsy was planned for yesterday or today.
Los Angeles police have opened an investigation into Murphy's death, officer Norma Eisenman said. Detectives and coroner's officials were at Murphy and Monjack's home on Sunday afternoon but did not talk to reporters. Paparazzi were camped outside the multi-story home, located above the Sunset Strip.
Neighbour Clare Staples said she saw firefighters working to resuscitate the actress on Sunday morning. She said Murphy was on a stretcher.
Murphy's husband, wearing pajama bottoms and no shoes, appeared "dazed" as firefighters tried to save her, Staples said. "It's just tragic," she added.
Murphy's publicist, Nicole Perna, said in a statement: "In this time of sadness, the family thanks you for your love and support. It is their wish that you respect their privacy."
Messages left for Murphy's manager and agent by The Associated Press were not immediately returned. - Sapa-AP