Today, we sit down for an exclusive interview with Brittany Murphy’s father, Angelo “AJ” Bertolotti, to address the recent revelations that his late daughter may have been poisoned. We’ll also talk about recent developments in Mr. Bertolotti’s ongoing efforts to get justice for Brittany Murphy and Simon Monjack.
Q: Where were you born?
A: I’m a native New Yorker of Italian heritage, born and raised in the area of New York that is known as Little Italy.
Q: Much has been said about your illustrious past – what can you tell us about it?
A: Anyone who enjoyed watching “The Godfather,” “Goodfellas” or “The Sopranos” would enjoy hearing my life’s story. I’ve traveled the world and lived an unforgettable life. Like everyone else, I made some mistakes along the way and paid the price. My past is colorful, but I paid my debt to society many years ago.
Q: Where did you first meet Sharon Murphy, Brittany’s mother?
A: I knew Sharon since she was about 13 years old, when she befriended one of my sons. Ten years later, Sharon found me in Florida. She asked me for a job, knowing that I owned a number of strip clubs, Discoteques and other businesses in different states. Sharon was also very aware of my involvement with organized crime, but it didn’t bother her. In fact, she was attracted to that lifestyle and found it glamorous. I hired Sharon to work at one of my clubs and shortly after that, we started dating, got married and had Brittany together.
Q: Sharon Murphy recently came out of hiding and spoke about Brittany’s death in an open letter published by the Hollywood Reporter. She publicly attacked you and your efforts to uncover the true cause of Brittany and Simon’s deaths. What was your first reaction to Sharon’s open letter?
A: I expected her to attack me, so that wasn’t much of a surprise. What was surprising is that Sharon went back to The Hollywood Reporter, after trashing that very publication for Alex Ben Block’s article “The Final Difficult Days of Brittany Murphy” and his subsequent interviews, filled with statements that Sharon said were 100-percent untrue. Knowing Sharon, I’m convinced that her so-called “open letter” was ghost-written and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if she collaborated with Block in birthing that twisted creation. Another thing that made me shake my head is that any mother would say “We will never know for sure” what killed Brittany and Simon – and be comfortable with such an assertion. That’s not something I could ever understand or relate to. I won’t stop until the truth is uncovered. Until that happens, my child is not resting in peace. She should still be here, blessing the world with her beauty and talent. Brittany was perfect, the best child anyone could ever wish for. I may not have been the best husband in the world, but I love all of my children dearly. I would fight just as hard to get justice for any of them.
Q: How many other children do you have and what kind of relationship do you have with them?
A: Three, I am very close to all my children. All my kids are in the arts and entertainment, they are talented composers, poets, singers. It runs in our blood – one of our predecessors was said to have been Antonio Stradivari – the greatest violin maker of the 17th century. I watched my kids develop their talents from an early age, including Brittany. She was a natural, performing since her childhood and developing into an accomplished actress. Sharon tried to cut me out of Brittany’s life completely, just as she did with other relatives and friends. She wanted to keep Britt all to herself, isolated from the world, whenever she wasn’t filming. We always had to meet in secret, because mother didn’t approve. For years before Brittany’s death many people assumed that it was Simon who kept her from spending time with friends and family, but it was Sharon all along. Brittany wanted a different kind of life, she made preparations to move to New York right before her death. She was so excited to move, to start a new life, to have a baby. I wish she had that chance to break free and live life to the fullest. Brittany was an angel, always taking care of others, never thinking about her own needs. She was the sweetest, kindest, most caring person in the world – not a mean or selfish bone in her body. I wish the world was as kind to my Brittany as she was to everyone else.
Q: Whose idea was it to change Brittany’s last name to Murphy instead of Bertolotti?
A: That was my idea. I wanted to distance her from all the notoriety of my past. I wanted Britt to shine, without any distractions. My kids are my world, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them.
Q: Did you save any keepsakes or mementos pertaining to Brittany?
A: Oh yes, I’ve saved everything – from her baby shoes and T-shirts, to Britt’s first drawings, cards, letters and of course, hundreds of our pictures together through the years.
Q: How did you feel when you found out that Sharon Murphy recently auctioned off Brittany’s passport, her SAG card, personalized jewelry, used clothes and underwear?
A: I can’t even tell you how disgusted I was about that. I tried to stop the sale, but it went forward anyway.
Q: Would you ever consider selling any of Brittany’s clothes, cards or mementos?
A: No, never. I can’t fathom doing such a thing.
Q: Did you ever benefit financially from Brittany’s stardom?
A: Not at all, nor would I even dream of asking my child for anything. I was always very proud of Brittany, from the time she was a child. Watching her live, thrive and succeed was my best reward as a parent.
Q: What made you think that Brittany’s and Simon’s deaths were not natural?
A: First of all, when Brittany died – it was the most unnatural thing in the world to have happened to my young, healthy, beautiful daughter. I knew right away that something was terribly wrong. When I read her autopsy, there were red flags all over the place. Everything screamed “poisoning” and yet the Coroner didn’t test any of Brittany’s tissues or hair for poisons or toxins. When Simon died five months later, with exactly the same symptoms – allegedly from the same causes (pneumonia and anemia), it was even more alarming. I went to meet with the Coroner and the LAPD, pleading with them to properly investigate both deaths. When they repeatedly refused, I had to take matters into my own hands.
Q: How did you obtain Brittanys’ hair, blood and tissues for testing?
A: It took years of litigation. I sued the Coroner and the LAPD and we eventually reached the settlement: I agreed to dismiss the lawsuit against them and in exchange, they agreed to ship the specimens directly to an independent lab for testing. Unlike Sharon, I didn’t sue for money. All I want is justice for my Brittany. That is my one and only incentive.
Q: What did you think when you saw reports of poisons and heavy metals in medical tests you had performed?
A: It was very chilling and heartbreaking. My worst suspicions have been confirmed.
Q: What do you think of Sharon’s allegation that Brittany and Simon died because of mold in the house?
A: I don’t believe that. If that was the cause of their deaths, then why wasn’t Sharon affected? After all, she is a two-time cancer survivor who has been living in the same house with Brittany and Simon, continuing to live there for a long while after their deaths. The Coroner said that they specifically investigated and excluded the mold as a possible cause of death.
Q: Did Brittany tell you she was afraid prior to her death?
A: Yes, she did. Brittany and Simon also relayed the same to Alex Ben Block of The Hollywood Reporter, telling him that they were under surveillance. He has the tapes of those interviews, but won’t let anyone listen to them. Block made fun of my daughter and her husband, calling them paranoid. In fact, there is extensive evidence that they actually were under surveillance. Whether that is related to Brittany and Simon’s untimely deaths is not something that either myself or any of my associates have ever claimed. I simply want every angle examined and properly investigated.
Q: What would you like to see happen next?
A: I’m asking the investigators to do their job and properly investigate Brittany’s and Simon’s deaths. Brittany’s homicide case was opened and closed by the LAPD within an hour, based on the Coroner’s assertion that her death was natural – before any toxicology tests were ever conducted. Even when the minimal testing was performed, it didn’t include any tests for poisons or toxins. The same happened with Simon’s death. Now that we have test results that show the high levels of Barium and other heavy metals in Brittany’s hair, there is no reason the case should not be re-opened and fully re-examined. Prominent experts agree. As for the friends of the Coroner, stepping up to defend him by attacking me and the lab, those tactics smell of desperation. The lab that performed the tests is accredited and very reputable. I have complete faith in their findings. I’m also taking other steps to have additional tests conducted.
Q: Did you receive any response from the authorities with respect to the recent lab findings?
A: Yes, I received a response from the Coroner’s Office, acknowledging their receipt of the certified lab tests and notifying me that the Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner is now examining and reviewing the Coroner’s original investigations into Brittany’s and Simon’s deaths. I am very encouraged by this latest development.