Yes, this is a photo of Marilyn Monroe’s body after it had been autopsied. The skin is blotchy because blood settled on that side of her face as she lay dead in her bed. Also her neck looks funny because they made a deep incision through the back of her head from just below her ears — straight across. They do this because then they can peel the scalp forward all the way down to her eyebrows. They then saw off the skullcap and remove the brain to examine it for a possible cause of death. After they are done, they put the skullcap back in place – sometimes they secure it with staples — and then they pull the skin back. More photos here Das photia .
You can rest easy because after this was all done, Marilyn’s hair and makeup were done and even though she didn’t look great, she looked like Marilyn. They laid her to rest at Pierce Brothers Westwood Memorial Cemetery which can be found behind a building on the northern corner of Wilshire Blvd and Glendon in Los Angeles.
The trouble with autopsied bodies is that they don’t preserve well since the embalmer uses the body’s natural circulatory system to saturate the body in every nick and cranny with embalming fluid and preservatives. When a body is autopsied, the natural circulatory system is disturbed because all the organs are taken out — any embalming fluid pumped into a vein just pools in the body cavity. The embalmer had to embalm all the body parts separately and that really doesn’t work very well.
A perfectly embalmed body lasts a really long time — Marilyn probably doesn’t look too good right now — but you never know.
Lee Harvey Oswald was an autopsy case and when they exhumed his body in the early 1970s, there wasn’t much left of him but icky goo and bones. Even his head had come unattached from his body.
When Anna Nicole Smith died, they were in a hurry to get her body shipped out of the morgue in the Bahamas because even though she was embalmed and in a cold storage, she was starting to get pretty gross. She’d been autopsied and then embalmed — and they just don’t keep. An embalmed body in cold storage, however, can last for years and years — but who can afford that?
Marilyn is in an above-ground vault, and Los Angeles climate is kind of a dry desert air so maybe Marilyn looks like a dried mummy or maybe she’s just bones or maybe she’s pretty disgusting and gooey — you never know.
Abraham Lincoln was embalmed really well with very old-fashioned fluids and preservatives, but when he was exhumed in 1906 — nearly 40 years after his death — he looked exactly the same as the day he was buried. Of course he was heavily embalmed so that his body would withstand the month-long trip across the United States to be viewed by hundreds of thousands of people. Today the fluids and techniques are much more sophisticated so your Aunt Millie or Uncle Marty might look as good today as they did when they were planted in the 1980s.
If you are embalmed properly and thoroughly, and you are buried on high-dry ground or above ground in a well-ventilated crypt, you could look really good even 50 or 100 years from now. Cemeteries all across the USA are full of people who look just like they did when they were buried decades ago. Mostly their noses turn black and they get a little mold growing on them, but you’d recognize them if you knew them. The truth, however, is that most people start to look really bad after a few years. Try not to think about it.
PS — The coroner’s report about Marilyn Monroe that floats around online sounds bogus to me, but in case it’s real, the report reads that an “unembalmed body” was brought to the coroner. Everybody is brought to the coroner umembalmed — well, almost everybody. Rarely a coroner will receive an embalmed body if the autopsy had to be held off for a time — like shipped in from another country — or if the body is an exhumation for the purpose of uncovering a crime after the fact. Keep in mind that not all bodies are embalmed before they are buried, but Marilyn was embalmed.