Arthur Miller

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Arthur Miller

Born October 17, 1915(1915-10-17)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died February 10, 2005 (aged 89)
Roxbury, Connecticut, U.S.
Occupation Playwright, Essayist
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Mary Slattery (1940-1956)
Marilyn Monroe (1956-1961)
Inge Morath (1962-2002)

Arthur Miller (October 17, 1915 – February 10, 2005) was an American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent figure in American theatre and cinema, writing a wide variety of dramas, including plays such as The Crucible, A View from the Bridge, All My Sons, and Death of a Salesman, which are studied and performed worldwide.[1] Miller was often in the public eye, most famously for refusing to give evidence against others to the House Un-American Activities Committee, being the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama among countless other awards, and for his marriage to Marilyn Monroe. Miller is considered by audiences and scholars as one of America's greatest playwrights and his plays are lauded throughout the world.


[edit] Biography

[edit] Early life

Arthur Asher Miller was born to moderately-affluent parents who immigrated,as Jews, from Poland to the United States [2], Isidore and Augusta Miller,[3] in Manhattan, New York City, in 1915. He lived there until the Wall Street Crash of 1929[4] after which his family moved to humbler quarters in Gravesend, Brooklyn.[5] When interviewed by BBC4 for The Atheism Tapes, he stated that he had been an atheist since his teens. [6]

Because of the effects of the Great Depression on his family, Miller did not have money for college after graduating in 1932 from Abraham Lincoln High School (New York).[5] Before securing a place at the University of Michigan, he worked in a number of menial jobs to pay for his tuition. He continued working in Ann Arbor to supplement his income.

At the University of Michigan, Miller first majored in journalism, where he became the reporter and night editor on the student paper, the Michigan Daily. It was during this time that he wrote his first work, No Villain.[7] Miller switched his major to English, and subsequently won the Avery Hopwood Award for No Villain. He was mentored by Professor Kenneth Rowe, who instructed him in his early forays into playwriting.[8] Miller retained strong ties to his alma mater throughout the rest of his life, establishing the university's Arthur Miller Award in 1985 and Arthur Miller Award for Dramatic Writing in 1999, and lending his name to the Arthur Miller Theatre in 2000.[9] In 1937, Miller wrote Honors at Dawn, which also received the Avery Hopwood Award.[7]

In 1938, Miller received his bachelor's degree in English. After graduation, he joined the Federal Theater Project, a New Deal agency established to provide jobs in the theater. He chose the theater project although he had an offer to work as a scriptwriter for 20th Century Fox.[7] However, Congress, worried about possible Communist infiltration, closed the project.[5] Miller began working in the Brooklyn Navy Yard while continuing to write radio plays, some of which were broadcast on CBS.[5][7]

On August 5, 1940, he married his college sweetheart, Mary Slattery, the Catholic daughter of an insurance salesman.[10] The couple had two children, Jane and Robert. Miller was exempted from military service during World War II because of a high-school American football injury to his left kneecap.[5]

Robert became a director, writer and producer who was, among other things, producer of the 1996 movie version of The Crucible[11].

[edit] Early career

In 1944 Miller wrote The Man Who Had All the Luck, which was produced in New Jersey and won the Theater Guild's National Award. [12]

In 1948 Miller built a small studio in Roxbury, Connecticut, a town that was to be his long time home. There, in less than a day, he wrote Act I of Death of a Salesman. Within six weeks, he completed the rest of the play,[7] one of the classics of world theater .[13][5] Death of a Salesman premiered on Broadway on February 10, 1949 at the Morosco Theatre, directed by Kazan, and starring Lee J. Cobb as Willy Loman, Mildred Dunnock as Linda, Arthur Kennedy as Biff, and Cameron Mitchell as Happy. The play was commercially successful and critically acclaimed, winning a Tony Award for best play, the New York City Drama Circle Critics Award, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It was the first play to win all three of these major awards. The searing drama ran for 742 performances.[5]

In 1952, Elia Kazan appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC); under fear of being blacklisted from Hollywood, Kazan named eight members of the Group Theatre, including Clifford Odets, Lee and Paula Strasberg, Lillian Hellman, Joe Bromberg, and John Garfield,[14] who in recent years had been fellow members of the Communist Party.[15] After speaking with Kazan about his testimony[16] Miller traveled to Salem, Massachusetts to research the witch trials of 1692.[10] The Crucible, an allegorical play in which Miller likened the situation with the House Un-American Activities Committee to the witch hunt in Salem,[17] opened at the Beck Theatre on Broadway on January 22, 1953. Though widely considered only somewhat successful at the time of its initial release, today The Crucible is Miller's most frequently produced work throughout the world.[10] Miller and Kazan remained close friends throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s, but after Kazan's testimony to HUAC, the pair's friendship ended, and they did not speak to each other for the next ten years.[15] HUAC took an interest in Miller himself not long after The Crucible opened, denying him a passport to attend the play's London opening in 1954.[7] Kazan defended his own actions through his film On the Waterfront, in which a dockworker heroically testifies against a corrupt union boss.

Miller's experience with HUAC affected him throughout his life. In the late 1970s he became very interested in the highly publicized Barbara Gibbons murder case, in which Gibbons' son Peter Reilly was convicted of his mother's murder based on what many felt was a coerced confession and little other evidence. City Confidential, an A&E Network program about the murder, postulates that part of the reason Miller took such an active interest (including supporting Reilly's defense and using his own celebrity to bring attention to Reilly's plight) was because he had felt similarly persecuted in his run-in with the HUAC. He sympathized with Reilly, whom he firmly believed to be innocent and to have been railroaded by the Connecticut State Police and the Attorney General who had initially prosecuted the case. [18][19]

[edit] 1956 - 1964

In 1956 a one-act version of Miller's verse drama, A View From The Bridge, opened on Broadway in a joint bill with one of Miller's lesser-known plays, A Memory of Two Mondays. The following year, Miller returned to A View from the Bridge, revising it into a two-act prose version, which Peter Brook produced in London.[6]

In June 1956 Miller left his first wife Mary Slattery, and on June 29, he married Marilyn Monroe.[10] Miller and Monroe had first met in April 1951, when they had a brief affair,[10] and had remained in contact since then. [5]

When Miller applied 1956 for a routine renewal of his passport, the HUAC used this opportunity to subpoena him to appear before the committee. Before appearing, Miller asked the committee not to ask him to name names, to which the chairman agreed.[20] When Miller attended the hearing, to which Monroe accompanied him, risking her own career,[10] he gave the committee a detailed account of his political activities. Reneging on the chairman's promise, the committee asked him to reveal to the names of friends and colleagues who had partaken in similar activities.[20] Miller refused to comply with the request, saying "I could not use the name of another person and bring trouble on him."[20] As a result a judge found Miller guilty of contempt of Congress in May 1957. Miller was fined $500, sentenced to thirty days in prison, blacklisted, and disallowed a U.S. passport.[3] In 1958 his conviction was overturned by the court of appeals, which ruled that Miller had been misled by the chairman of HUAC.[3]

For a period in his life, Arthur Miller changed his name to Jonathan Lovelett as to keep his identity protected from the public. He published under this pen name for a short while in a small newspaper. The serialization of his works became very popular so he decided to change his name back to Arthur Miller.

After his conviction was overturned, Miller began work on The Misfits, which starred his wife. Miller said that the filming was one of the lowest points in his life,[10] and shortly before the film's premiere in 1961, the pair divorced.[7] Nineteen months later, Monroe died of an apparent drug overdose.

Miller married photographer Inge Morath on February 17, 1962, and the first of their two children, Rebecca, was born that September. Their son Daniel was born with Down Syndrome in November, 1966, and was consequently institutionalized and excluded from the Millers' personal life at Miller's insistence[21]. The couple remained together until Inge's death in 2002. Arthur Miller's son-in-law, actor Daniel Day-Lewis is said to have visited Daniel frequently, and to have persuaded Arthur Miller to reunite with his adult son [22].

[edit] Later career

In 1964 Miller's next play was produced. After the Fall is a deeply personal view of Miller's own experiences during his marriage to Monroe. The play reunited Miller with his former friend Kazan: they collaborated on both the script and the direction. After the Fall opened on January 23, 1964 at the ANTA Theatre in Washington Square Park amid a flurry of publicity and outrage at putting a Monroe-like character, called Maggie, on stage.[10] Also in the same year, Miller produced Incident at Vichy. In 1965, Miller was elected the first American president of International PEN, a position which he held for four years.[23] During this period Miller wrote the penetrating family drama, The Price, produced in 1968.[10] It was Miller's most successful play since Death of a Salesman.[24]

In 1969, Miller's works were banned in the Soviet Union after he campaigned for the freedom of dissident writers.[7] Throughout the 1970s, Miller spent much of his time experimenting with the theatre, producing one-act plays such as Fame and The Reason Why, and traveling with his wife, producing In The Country and Chinese Encounters with her. Both his 1972 comedy The Creation of the World and Other Business and its musical adaptation, Up from Paradise, were critical and commercial failures.[25][26]

In 1983, Miller traveled to the People's Republic of China to produce and direct Death of a Salesman at the People's Art Theatre in Beijing. The play was a success in China[24] and in 1984, Salesman in Beijing, a book about Miller's experience in Beijing, was published. Around the same time, Death of a Salesman was made into a TV movie starring Dustin Hoffman as Willy Loman. Shown on CBS, it attracted 25 million viewers.[7][27] In late 1987, Miller's autobiography, Timebends was published. Before his autobiography was published, it was well known that that Miller would not talk about Monroe in interviews; in Timebends Miller talks about his experiences with Monroe in detail.[10] During the early 1990s Miller wrote three new plays, The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (1991), The Last Yankee (1992), and Broken Glass (1994). In 1996, a film of The Crucible starring Daniel Day Lewis and Winona Ryder opened. Miller spent much of 1996 working on the screenplay to the film.[7] Mr. Peters' Connections was staged off-Broadway in 1998, and Death of a Salesman was revived on Broadway in 1999 to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary. The play, once again, was a large critical success, winning a Tony Award for best revival of a play.[28]

In 2001 the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) selected Miller for the Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. federal government's highest honor for achievement in the humanities.[29] Miller's lecture was entitled "On Politics and the Art of Acting."[30] Miller's lecture analyzed political events (including the recent U.S. presidential election of 2000) in terms of the "arts of performance," and it drew attacks from some conservatives[31] such as Jay Nordlinger, who called it "a disgrace,"[32] and George Will, who did not like the political content of Miller's lecture and argued that Miller was not legitimately a "scholar."[33]

On May 1, 2002, Miller was awarded Spain's Principe de Asturias Prize for Literature as "the undisputed master of modern drama." Previous winners include Doris Lessing, Günter Grass and Carlos Fuentes. Later that year, Ingeborg Morath died of Lymphatic cancer[34][35] at the age of 78. The following year Miller won the Jerusalem Prize.[7] In December 2004, the 89-year-old Miller announced that he had been in love with 34-year-old minimalist painter Agnes Barley and had been living with her at his Connecticut farm since 2002, and that they intended to marry. Within hours of her father's death, Rebecca Miller ordered Barley to vacate the premises, having consistently opposed the relationship. Miller's final play, Finishing the Picture, opened at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago, in the fall of 2004, with one character said to be based on Barley. Miller said that the work was based on the experience of filming The Misfits.

Miller died at his home in Roxbury of congestive heart failure[36] on the evening of February 10, 2005 (the 56th anniversary of the Broadway debut of Death of a Salesman) at the age of 89, surrounded by Barley, his family and friends.[37]

[edit] Legacy

Miller's career as a writer spanned over seven decades, and at the time of his death in 2005, Miller was considered to be one of the greatest dramatists of the twentieth century.[13] After his death, many respected actors, directors, and producers paid tribute to Miller,[38] some calling him the last great practitioner of the American stage,[39] and Broadway theaters darkened their lights in a show of respect.[40] Miller's alma mater, the University of Michigan opened the Arthur Miller Theatre in March, 2007. Per his express wish, it is the only theater in the world that bears Miller's name. [41]

Miller's friend Professor Christopher Bigsby has recently finished working on Arthur Miller: The Definitive Biography, based on boxes of papers Miller made available to him before his death in 2005.[42] The book was published in November 2008, and is reported to reveal unpublished works in which Miller "bitterly attack[ed] the injustices of American racism long before it was taken up by the civil rights movement".[42]

[edit] Works

[edit] Fiction

[edit] Non-fiction

  • Situation Normal (1944) is based on his experiences researching the war correspondence of Ernie Pyle.
  • In Russia (1969), the first of three books created with his photographer wife Inge Morath, offers Miller's impressions of Russia and Russian society.
  • In the Country (1977), with photographs by Morath and text by Miller, provides insight into how Miller spent his time in Roxbury, Connecticut and profiles of his various neighbors.
  • Chinese Encounters (1979) is a travel journal with photographs by Morath. It depicts the Chinese society in the state of flux which followed the end of the Cultural Revolution. Miller discusses the hardships of many writers, professors, and artists as they try to regain the sense of freedom and place they lost during Mao Zedong's regime.
  • Salesman in Beijing (1984) details Miller's experiences with the 1983 Beijing People's Theatre production of Death of a Salesman. He describes the idiosyncrasies, understandings, and insights encountered in directing a Chinese cast in a decidedly American play.
  • Timebends: A Life, Methuen London (1987) ISBN 0413414809. Like Death of a Salesman, the book follows the structure of memory itself, each passage linked to and triggered by the one before.

[edit] Collections

  • Kushner, Tony, ed. Arthur Miller, Collected Plays 1944-1961 (Library of America, 2006) ISBN 978-1-93108291-4.
  • Martin, Robert A. (ed.), "The theater essays of Arthur Miller", foreword by Arthur Miller. NY: Viking Press, 1978 ISBN 0140049037.
  • Steven R Centola, ed. Echoes Down the Corridor: Arthur Miller, Collected Essays 1944-2000, Viking Penguin (US)/Methuen (UK), 2000 ISBN 0413756904

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] Sources

  • Bigsby, Christopher (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Arthur Miller, Cambridge 1997 ISBN 0521559928
  • Martin Gottfried, Arthur Miller, A Life, Da Capo Press (US)/Faber and Faber (UK), 2003 ISBN 0571219462
  • Martin, Robert A. (ed.), "The theater essays of Arthur Miller", foreword by Arthur Miller. NY: Viking Press, 1978.
  • Moss, Leonard. Arthur Miller, Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1980.

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ "Death of a Salesman studied at Emanuel". Emanuel School alchohol. Retrieved on 2006-09-24. ; "Death of a Salesman at Odyssey". Odyssey Theater Ensemble. Retrieved on 2006-09-24. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c "Arthur Miller Files". University of Michigan. Retrieved on 2006-10-01. 
  4. ^ "Obituary: Arthur Miller". BBC. Retrieved on 2006-09-24. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h The Times Arthur Miller Obituary, (London: The Times, 2005)
  6. ^ "HNN Podcast Transcript #28". BBC. Retrieved on 2009-03-31. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "A Brief Chronology of Arthur Miller's Life and Works". The Arthur Miller Society. Retrieved on 2006-09-24. 
  8. ^ "Arthur Miller Files (UM days)". University of Michigan. Retrieved on 2006-09-24. 
  9. ^ "Arthur Miller and University of Michigan". University of Michigan. Retrieved on 2006-09-24. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Michael Ratcliffe, Arthur Miller Obituary, (London: The Observer, 2005).
  11. ^ "Robert A. Miller's IMDB profile". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on 2006-09-24. 
  12. ^ Royal National Theater: Platform Papers, 7. Arthur Miller (Battley Brothers Printers, 1995).
  13. ^ a b "Arthur Miller dies". CNN. Retrieved on 2006-09-25. 
  14. ^ Mills, Michael. "Postage Paid: In defense of Elia Kazan". Retrieved on 2009-02-25. 
  15. ^ a b "American Masters: Elia Kazan". PBS. Retrieved on 2006-09-22. 
  16. ^ "Excerpt from Timebends". Spatacus Schoolnet. Retrieved on 2006-09-22. 
  17. ^ "Are you now, or were you ever?". University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved on 2006-09-25. 
  18. ^ "A Son's Confession DVD, Shows The First 48 , A&E Shop". Retrieved on 2009-01-11. 
  19. ^ "Records on Exonerated Man Are Kept Off Limits to Press - New York Times". Retrieved on 2009-01-11. 
  20. ^ a b c "BBC On This Day". Retrieved on 2006-10-14. 
  21. ^ Suzanna Andrews (September 2007). "Arthur Miller's Missing Act". Vanity Fair. Retrieved on 2007-08-17. 
  22. ^ Paul Scott (January 2008). "The VERY strange life of reclusive superstar Daniel Day-Lewis". Daily Mail. Retrieved on 2008-01-28. 
  23. ^ Miller, Arthur (2003-12-24). "A Visit With Castro". The Nation. Retrieved on 2006-08-01. 
  24. ^ a b "Arthur Miller Files 60s70s80s". University of Michigan. Retrieved on 2006-10-14. 
  25. ^ "Arthur Miller Returns to Genesis for First Musical". Retrieved on 2009-01-11. 
  26. ^ "UP FROM PARADISE - Review - Theater - New York Times". Retrieved on 2009-01-11. 
  27. ^ The Cambridge History of American Theatre: Post-World War II to the 1990s, Page:296 (Cambridge University Press, 2006).
  28. ^ "Tony Awards 1999". Retrieved on 2006-10-28. 
  29. ^ Jefferson Lecturers at NEH Website (retrieved January 22, 2009).
  30. ^ Arthur Miller, "On Politics and the Art of Acting", text of Jefferson Lecture at NEH website.
  31. ^ Bruce Craig, "Arthur Miller's Jefferson Lecture Stirs Controversy," in "Capital Commentary", OAH Newsletter [published by Organization of American Historians], May 2001.
  32. ^ Jay Nordlinger, "Back to Plessy, Easter with Fidel, Miller’s new tale, &c." National Review, April 22, 2002.
  33. ^ George Will, "Enduring Arthur Miller: Oh, the Humanities!" Jewish World Review, April 10, 2001.
  34. ^ "Essay on Inge Morath". Retrieved on 2007-01-21. 
  35. ^ "NYTimes on Morath's death". Retrieved on 2007-01-21. 
  36. ^ "Boston Globe article on Miller's death". Retrieved on 2007-01-21. 
  37. ^ AP. "Playwright Arthur Miller dies at age 89 - THEATER-". Retrieved on 2009-01-11. 
  38. ^ "Tributes to Arthur Miller". Retrieved on 2006-11-09. 
  39. ^ "Legacy of Arthur Miller". Retrieved on 2007-01-21. 
  40. ^ "Broadway lights go out for Arthur Miller". Retrieved on 2006-11-09. 
  41. ^ "U-M celebrates naming of Arthur Miller Theatre". University of Michigan. Retrieved on 2007-11-12. 
  42. ^ a b Dalya Alberge (2008-03-07). "Unseen writings show anti-racist passions of young Arthur Miller". The Times. Retrieved on 2008-03-07. 
  43. ^

[edit] External links

NAME Miller, Arthur
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Miller, Arthur Asher
SHORT DESCRIPTION American playwright and essayist
DATE OF BIRTH October 17, 1915(1915-10-17)
PLACE OF BIRTH Harlem, New York City, New York, U.S.
DATE OF DEATH February 10, 2005
PLACE OF DEATH Roxbury, Connecticut, USA

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