The High Profile Case That Cost the "Coroner to the Stars" His Job

For 15 years, Dr. Thomas Noguchi encountered the best and the worst of Los Angeles — movie stars, gangsters, politicians, millionaires, and victims of serial killers. Of course, by the time he met them, they were on his autopsy table. Noguchi told the world that Marilyn Monroe was depressed when she took an overdose of sleeping pills (a point hotly disputed over the years), and he revealed that Janis Joplin and John Belushi died of accidental drug overdoses. However, he made the mistake of his life when Senator Robert Kennedy got shot. While Kennedy fought for his life, Noguchi reportedly told his associates, “I hope he dies,” and danced in his office in gleeful anticipation of performing the autopsy. Noguchi did perform the autopsy and later testified at the trial of Sirhan Sirhan. Unfortunately, his troubles were just beginning. When word got out about Noguchi’s unacceptable behavior, he was forced to resign. Noguchi charged that his firing was politically motivated, but when it became widely known that this wasn’t the first time he had hoped for bad outcomes in order to increase his press coverage, he was doomed. Testimony that he had hoped for air disasters so glory would be brought to his office, pretty much tightened the figurative noose around Noguchi’s neck. His career, however, didn’t end there. He went on to become the Chief of Pathology at the University of Southern California, retiring in 1999.