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Birth:
Harlem, New York City, United States 1
Death:
Roxbury, Connecticut 1
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Full Name:
Arthur Miller 2
Birth:
Harlem, New York City, United States 1
Male 1
Birth:
17 Oct 1915 2
Death:
Roxbury, Connecticut 1
Cause: Heart Failure 1
Death:
10 Feb 2005 2
Residence:
Last Residence: Roxbury, CT 2
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Birth:
Mother: Augusta Miller, 1
Father: Isidore Miller, 1
Marriage:
Marilyn Monroe 1
25 Jun 1956 1
Divorce Date: 1961 1
Spouse Death Date: 1962 1
Marriage:
Mary Grace Slattery 1
Inge Morath 1
1940 1
17 Feb 1962 1
Divorce Date: 1956 1
Spouse Death Date: 2002 1
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Occupation:
playwright and essayist 1
Education:
Institution: University Of Michigan 1
Place: Ann Arbor MI 1
From: 1934 1
To: 1938 1
Social Security:
Card Issued: Unknown Code (PE) 2

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Playwright of Broken American Dreams

Arthur Miller, 89, widely regarded as one of the greatest American playwrights, whose works included oft-performed classics "Death of a Salesman," "The Crucible" and "A View from the Bridge," died of congestive heart failure Thursday at his home in Roxbury, Conn.

He was surrounded by his family, said his assistant, Julia Bolus. She declined to say if Miller had been ill but noted that he had completed his latest work, "Finishing the Picture," last year and that "he was always writing."


Actress Marilyn Monroe and playwright Arthur Miller embrace on the lawn of Miller's home in Roxbury, Conn., a few hours before their wedding. (1956 Photo Victoria Arocho -- AP)
                   








             
                       

           
       

Theaters on Broadway dimmed their marquee lights last night for a minute in tribute to Miller, the League of American Theaters and Producers said.

Miller's plays were produced on Broadway, in regional and world theaters and on high school stages nationwide. They addressed the weightiest matters of conscience, the torments and tragedies of ordinary men and women struggling for dignity, respect and a sense of community in an increasingly dehumanized and impersonal world that they often did not understand. They were a literary reflection of an era of metamorphosis and redefinition in America following a great victory in World War II.

As a character himself, Miller exemplified the New York intellectual world of the 1950s, a gravel-voiced Brooklyn native married to glamorous actress Marilyn Monroe and outraged by the anti-communist political crusades of the time.

His plays were psychological and social. They explored misplaced and misunderstood values, out-of-control materialism, dysfunctional families and conflicts between fathers and sons. His characters were good people who frequently acted badly under pressure. They were insightful, but they had blind spots. They avoided reality and denied the truth when it was painful. They were assertive, yet indecisive; aggressive, but also timid.

"A lot of my work goes to the center of where we belong -- if there is any root to life -- because nowadays the family is broken up, and people don't live in the same place for very long," Miller said in a 1988 interview. "Dislocation, maybe, is part of our uneasiness. It implants the feeling that nothing is really permanent."

His prolific career, which began in 1936, brought him four Tony awards (one for lifetime achievement), a Pulitzer Prize, an Emmy, the Kennedy Center Honors and the award as the center's Jefferson lecturer in the humanities, among other prizes. In addition to plays, he wrote television and motion picture scripts. Among these were "The Misfits," a 1961 movie written for his actress wife Monroe, and "Playing for Time," the true story of an inmates' orchestra at the World War II Auschwitz concentration camp, which was broadcast on CBS television in 1980.

A 2003 PBS documentary, "Arthur Miller, Elia Kazan and the Blacklist: None Without a Sin," explored the breakdown of the relationship and artistic collaboration between the longtime friends over Kazan's decision to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952. Miller refused to testify in 1956 and was blacklisted and convicted of contempt of Congress as a result. The conviction was overturned by the courts in 1958.

Miller, described by novelist William Styron as resembling a "Jewish Abraham Lincoln," was an activist all his life, appearing before the U.S. Senate last year to back legislation that would allow playwrights to jointly negotiate a standard contract for their work without violating antitrust laws. He also testified in 1975 about the Soviets' refusal to allow dissident Andrei Sakharov to travel to Norway to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. At a 1985 ambassador's party in Ankara, he denounced the imprisonment of hundreds of Turks for their beliefs. In 2000, he traveled to Havana to discuss human rights with Fidel Castro.

At the Kennedy Center's Jefferson Lecture, shortly after the seemingly interminable presidential election of 2000, his talk was overtly political: "The amount of acting required of both President Bush and the Democrats is awesome now, given the fractured election and the donation by the Supreme Court. . . . Bush has to act as though he was elected, the Supreme Court has to act as though it was the Supreme Court, Gore has to perform the role of a man who is practically overjoyed at his own defeat, and so on."

But he will best be remembered for his plays and particularly for the plays that he wrote in the decade immediately following World War II.

The most critically acclaimed was the 1949 Pulitzer Prize-winning "Death of a Salesman," the tragic story of the emotional collapse of Willy Loman, an aging salesman, husband and father who has sold his soul for a set of hollow values. It has been translated into 29 languages, is performed all over the world and is required reading in many college American literature courses. Critics have said it is likely to become one of only a few 20th century American plays to survive into future centuries. One reason is the soliloquy by Loman's wife, which is embedded firmly in American memory.

"I don't say he's a great man," she says in the play. "Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He's not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person."

"The Crucible," Miller's timeless drama about the witch trials in Salem, Mass., during the 1600s, was an immediate hit when it opened in New York in 1953. Audiences saw parallels between the witchcraft hysteria of 17th century Salem and the anti-communist hysteria of the McCarthy era in the 1950s. Thirty years later, "The Crucible" played to packed houses in Beijing, where Chinese audiences found similar parallels with the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s.

His plays, such as "A View From the Bridge," written in 1955, were revived two or three times during his lifetime, and he never stopped writing new works. In 2002, he premiered "Resurrection Blues" at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, and in October, he premiered "Finishing the Picture" at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. A short story of his appears in the current issue of "Harper's Magazine." Writing, he said, "is my art."

"I still love the form," he told the New York Times in April. "It's a great, great human adventure. Imagine having a human being stand up on a platform and mesmerize an audience and sometimes even illuminate something for them. You don't need machinery. It's a very primitive art. That's the beauty of it."

His career had ups and downs. In 1956, following his marriage to Monroe, Miller's playwriting career went into an eclipse. The marriage was troubled and tempestuous, and the couple was hounded relentlessly by the media. Monroe's dependence on barbiturates and her profound emotional problems compounded their difficulties.

Nevertheless, Miller did find much in his wife that was admirable, and in 1961 he wrote the movie script for "The Misfits" as a last-ditch effort to save the marriage and Monroe's life. It was an exploration of the dying myth of the Wild West cowboy through the experiences of three down-at-the-heels drifters and a tormented divorcee. John Huston directed the film, which gave Monroe and Clark Gable their final roles, and both Miller's script and Huston's direction won critical praise. But the picture was not a box-office success. Shortly after completion of its filming, Monroe filed for divorce. In 1962, she died of a drug overdose.

In 1964, Miller took up playwriting again with "After the Fall," a drama about a lawyer struggling to resolve past crises in his life, including the suicide of his wife and his confrontation with the communist-hunting House Un-American Activities Committee. Despite Miller's denials, the play was widely viewed as autobiographical, and Miller was criticized for having taken advantage of his life with Monroe and his relationship with colleagues who had turned informer during the McCarthy era.

Arthur Miller was born Oct. 17, 1915, in New York. He attended high school in Brooklyn, where his performances on the athletic fields were more impressive than in the classroom. Not until he had graduated did he acquire any literary ambitions, and this came about only after he had read "The Brothers Karamazov," which had a profound effect on him.

He held a variety of clerical and warehouse jobs and in 1934 entered the University of Michigan, where he studied playwriting. He supported himself by washing dishes and working as night editor of the student newspaper.

It was at Michigan that Miller met his first wife, the former Mary Slattery. They were married in 1940 and divorced in 1956. The marriage produced two children, Jane Ellen and Robert.

Exempt from the draft because of a football injury, Miller spent the World War II years writing radio dramas while working part time as a truck driver and a steamfitter at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. His first play, "Honors at Dawn," was produced in 1936. His first Broadway effort, "The Man Who Had All the Luck," about a Midwest auto mechanic, closed after four performances. The playwright then spent two years writing "All My Sons," which established him as a figure in the literary community and enabled him to buy a 350-acre farm in Roxbury, where he built a studio and wrote the rest of his plays.

In 1962, he married Inge Morath, an Austrian-born photographer, who died in 2002. They had a daughter, Rebecca, who is also a playwright.

His literary production over the next 40 years was steady, and his work played in the United States and England to a variety of reviews. But he never achieved the literary heights of the first decade after the war.

He wrote a well-received autobiography, "Timebends: A Life" (1987), as well as fiction and a collection of essays.

In his final years, revivals of his work and international awards cheered the writer. Salman Rushdie praised him as "a giant figure" whose courage in speaking out for persecuted writers, both during his years as president of PEN International (1965-69) and after, gave him a moral stature equaled by few.

He acknowledged to a writer from Knight Ridder Newspapers nine years ago that it was more fun to be Arthur Miller at age 80 than at age 50.

"In a way it is," he said, beginning to smile. "I can't divorce such a question from the fact that -- let's face it -- not a lot of things last a half a century. Even buildings fall. One of my joys in life is to see that what I've done has lasted."

ARTHUR MILLER: 1915-2005 / Playwright defined a nation's conscience / Author of 'Death of a Salesman,' 'The Crucible' won every major prize in his field

"If Arthur Miller had written nothing more than 'Death of a Salesman, ' " critic Martin Gottfried wrote in his 2003 biography of the playwright, "it would have been enough to establish him among the giants of dramatic literature." He did much more than that.

Arthur Miller died Thursday night at his home in Roxbury, Conn., of congestive heart failure at the age of 89. For decades the nation's pre- eminent playwright, Miller not only defined the destructive side of the American dream in "Salesman" and other works, he embodied the dream's promise as the son of an immigrant who achieved enormous success. He also, in the person of his second wife -- international sex icon Marilyn Monroe -- could be said to have married that dream.

In a career that spanned more than half a century, Arthur Miller wrote 25 plays -- many almost as highly regarded as "Salesman" -- as well as screenplays, essays, stories, novels and an autobiography, "Timebends." He received every major award in his field, including three Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, an Emmy Award and a John F. Kennedy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1984. By the end of his life, he had achieved the iconic stature of one whose name lends dignity to the award given.

He also devoted himself tirelessly to human rights causes, becoming, in the eyes of many, the moral conscience of the nation for standing up against McCarthyism and the House Un-American Activities Committee. He confounded many who had applauded his stand by continuing to work with actors and others, notably the director Elia Kazan, who had famously cooperated with the committee by naming names. He was, he explained, opposed to blacklisting of all kinds.

As the first international president of the professional writers association PEN, he championed the freedom of dissident writers in Soviet-bloc countries and throughout the world. He campaigned for progressive causes and against all forms of censorship throughout his life and was outspoken in his criticisms of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and of what he considered the Bush administration's abridgements of civil liberties.

In his life and writings, Miller was representative of his times -- the bulk of the 20th century. Born Oct. 17, 1915, in Manhattan, Arthur Asher Miller was the second son of an illiterate but very successful clothing manufacturer, Isidore Miller, an Eastern European Jewish immigrant, and his wife, Augusta (called Gussie), the New York-born daughter of German Jewish immigrants.

A prosperous childhood, during which he showed more of an inclination for sports than school, came to a dramatic close with the stock market crash of 1929. As Isidore Miller struggled to save his company, the family moved from its spacious uptown Manhattan apartment to a cramped, flimsy house in the outlying Gravesend section of Brooklyn -- a home not unlike that of the Loman family in "Salesman" (the character of Willy Loman was partly based on one of Arthur Miller's uncles).

"The presumption of a permanent prosperity exploded in a matter of weeks, " Miller wrote in "Timebends." "A month ago you were riding around in a limousine, now you were scraping to pay the rent."

The stock market crash and its aftermath had a major impact on Miller's life and work, not only in fixing his attention on social and economic justice and the hollow promise of the American dream as major themes. His much-admired older brother, Kermit, who had shown more promise as an athlete and a student, quit college to help their father try to save the family business. Arthur, through hard work at a variety of jobs and creative writing on his application letter, managed to go to the University of Michigan.

Financial need influenced his turn toward theater. Miller entered a playwriting contest administered by the university, winning a $250 prize that enabled him to attend for a second year. He won the Avery Hopwood Award again the next year as well as a $1,200 award from New York's Theater Guild. Though most of his next six plays were rejected, and his first Broadway production --

"The Man Who Had All the Luck" in 1944 -- was an instant failure (closing after four performances), he decided to make one last attempt at a life in the theater. "All My Sons," produced in '47, enjoyed a substantial run and started his career.

At the time, Miller was working in the Brooklyn Navy Yard to support his family. In 1940, he had married Mary Grace Slattery, with whom he had two children. The marriage ended in divorce in 1955, in large part because of Miller's affair with Monroe, whom he married the next year. By then, he was the famous author of "Salesman" ('49) and "The Crucible" ('53). She, recently divorced from baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, was Hollywood's leading sex symbol.

The marriage has been widely interpreted -- at the time and increasingly ever since -- as a union between American icons representing everything from high and popular culture to the mind and the body, tragedy and comedy and intellect and sex. It also coincided with Miller's opposition to the anti-communist witch hunts of the '50s, his refusal to name names before HUAC and his citation for contempt of Congress.

The marriage with Monroe ended in 1961, the year the movie "The Misfits," which he had written for her, premiered. The following year, Miller married Austrian photographer Inge Morath, with whom he had a daughter, filmmaker Rebecca Miller. Morath, with whom he also wrote several books, died in 2002.

Both marriages were reflected in "After the Fall," Miller's most nakedly autobiographical drama. The play also chronicles his stand against McCarthyism and his split with Kazan, who had staged Miller's initial successes "All My Sons" and "Salesman" -- and would also direct the controversial premiere of "Fall" in '64. Miller, who professed to be puzzled by criticisms that he had exploited Monroe's memory, staunchly denied that the play chronicled their marriage. He returned to the subject in his final play, "Finishing the Picture, " which opened last fall in Chicago -- about the making of a movie under circumstances very similar to those that plagued "Misfits."

Though Miller never considered himself an autobiographical playwright, the major themes of his plays clearly derive from his life. The Depression, which he compared to the Civil War as a turning point in American history, haunts his work from "Salesman" on through his epic "The American Clock" in 1980.

His sibling rivalry with his brother Kermit and his conflicted feelings about pursuing his own career while Kermit sacrificed his prospects to help the family are expressed in the relationship between brothers in "Salesman," "Sons" and "Price," among others. His guilt about his affair with Monroe crops up in "The Crucible," and that play -- and his adaptation of Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People" -- are defiant reactions against McCarthyism.

With "Fall," Miller began exploring his Jewishness more explicitly, a theme that recurs in many of his later works, including "The Price," "Incident at Vichy" ('65), "The Creation of the World and Other Business" ('72) and the Emmy Award-winning "Playing for Time" ('80). Themes of personal responsibility, political repression and individual integrity continued to hold center stage through the seemingly indefatigable Miller's later plays -- "The Ride Down Mt. Morgan" ('91), "Broken Glass" ('94), "Mr. Peter's Connections" ('98) and the satirical "Resurrection Blues" ('02).

Few of his later plays met with critical or popular favor. After his success with "Sons" and "Salesman," Miller was attacked by conservative writers for his politics in the '50s and abandoned by most of the critical establishment after "Fall." As with most major American writers, high regard gave way to a period of critical neglect and hostility, which -- in Miller's case -- roughly coincided with the same arc in the career of his contemporary,Tennessee Williams.

Unlike Williams, who died during his critical eclipse, Miller lived long enough to reap the rewards of rediscovery. Even during the '70s and '80s, when he was almost invisible on Broadway, "Salesman," "Crucible" and "Sons" in particular continued to hold their own on regional stages throughout America and abroad. Even as American producers turned their backs on his new plays, they received major productions and attention in London. Starting in the '90s, Broadway began rediscovering Miller with highly regarded revivals of "Salesman, " "A View From the Bridge," "Price" and "Crucible."

Throughout their lives, Miller and Williams often were set up as rivals for the title of greatest American playwright. Williams was characterized as the more poetic, dreamy and, in his latter years, daringly experimental artist; Miller as the rigid moralist and social realist. The contrast isn't fair to either writer, each in his way a legitimate artistic heir to Eugene O'Neill, the giant of American drama in the first half of the 20th century.

A gritty realism pervades the poetry of much of Williams' best work, as does a social conscience and a moral sense as fierce as Miller's. Both men approached mainstream culture with the consciousness of outsiders, and Miller's Jewish identity is almost as cloaked in his early works as Williams' homosexuality is in his.

Miller also experimented with form throughout his career. The structure of "Salesman" -- with dream and memory sequences intruding on the present - - confounded and excited audiences in 1949. If the play no longer seems experimental, that's only a measure of the pervasive influence "Salesman" and its author have had on the American theater.

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