Erin Fleming Cause of Death: How the Actress Ended Her Life

Erin Fleming was a Canadian actress who became famous for being the companion and manager of comedian Groucho Marx during his final years. She was credited with reviving his popularity and helping him receive an honorary Academy Award in 1974. However, she was also accused of exploiting and abusing him by his family and friends. After a long legal battle over his estate, she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and spent the last decade of her life in poverty and mental illness. She committed suicide by gunshot in Hollywood on April 15, 2003, at the age of 61. What led to her tragic demise? Here are some facts about her life and death.

Early Career and Relationship with Groucho Marx

Erin Fleming was born Marilyn Suzette Fleming on August 13, 1941, in New Liskeard, Ontario, Canada. She appeared in minor roles on television and in six feature films between 1965 and 1976, during which time she became acquainted with Groucho Marx and was initially hired as his secretary. Her most prominent film role was in the 1972 Woody Allen movie Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) .

Fleming’s influence and relationship with Groucho Marx were controversial. Groucho and Fleming met in 1971 and she was initially (and extemporaneously) hired as his secretary, eventually assuming the role of his manager. Many of Groucho’s friends and colleagues acknowledged that she did much to revive his popularity, by arranging a series of personal appearances and one-man shows culminating in a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall, which was recorded and issued on a best-selling record album. She also successfully lobbied for the honorary Academy Award Groucho received in 1974 .

However, several of Groucho’s friends, family and employees, including his son Arthur and youngest daughter Melinda, charged Fleming with embezzling money and pushing the increasingly frail Groucho to the limits of his endurance, largely for her own personal gain. There were also charges of psychological and suspected physical abuse . Groucho’s friend, writer Sidney Sheldon wrote a roman à clef on Fleming’s relationship with Groucho titled A Stranger in the Mirror, published in 1976 . In a 1993 television adaptation, Lori Loughlin performed the role inspired by Fleming .

Groucho died on August 19, 1977, aged 86 (just four months after the death of his younger brother Gummo Marx). Litigation over his estate was eventually resolved in 1988 in favor of his three children: daughters, Miriam and Melinda and son, Arthur Marx; Fleming was ordered to repay $472,000 to Groucho’s estate .

Later Life and Death

Fleming was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. She was arrested in June, 1990 on suspicion of carrying a concealed loaded firearm, which she brought into the West Hollywood sheriff’s office . She spent much of the last decade of her life impoverished, homeless, delusional, and in and out of various psychiatric facilities .

Fleming took her own life in Hollywood on April 15, 2003, at age 61. She was cremated and her ashes interred in Hornings Mills Cemetery, Horning’s Mills, Ontario .

Erin Fleming cause of death was suicide by gunshot. She was a talented actress who had a tumultuous relationship with one of the most iconic comedians of all time. She also suffered from mental illness and financial troubles that made her life unbearable. Her story is a tragic one that deserves more attention and compassion.

Doms Desk

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