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Arthur Asher Miller Edit Profile

essayist , playwright , writer

Arthur Asher Miller was an American playwright and essayist whose biting criticism of social problems defined his genius. He was a prominent figure in American theatre, writing dramas that include plays such as All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953) and A View from the Bridge. Received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and was married to Marilyn Monroe.

Background

Arthur Asher Miller was born on October 17, 1915, in Harlem, New York City, the second of three children of Isidore and Augusta Miller, Polish Jewish immigrants. His father owned a women's clothing manufacturing business employing some 400 people. He became a wealthy and respected man in the community. The family, including his younger sister Joan, lived on East 110th Street in Manhattan and owned a summer house in Far Rockaway, Queens. They employed a chauffeur. In the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the family lost almost everything and moved to Gravesend, Brooklyn.

Education

At the University of Michigan, Miller first majored in journalism and worked as a reporter and night editor for the student paper, the Michigan Daily. It was during this time that he wrote his first play, No Villain. Miller switched his major to English, and subsequently won the Avery Hopwood Award for No Villain. The award brought him his first recognition and led him to begin to consider that he could have a career as a playwright. Miller enrolled in a playwriting seminar taught by the influential Professor Kenneth Rowe, who instructed him in his early forays into playwriting and taught him how to construct a play in order to achieve an intended effect.

Career

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

Christopher Bigsby wrote Arthur Miller: The Definitive Biography based on boxes of papers Miller made available to him before his death in 2005. 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".

Miller's papers are housed at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin.

Achievements

  • Miller's writing has earned him a lifetime of honors, including the Pulitzer Prize, seven Tony Awards, two Drama Critics Circle Awards, an Obie, an Olivier, the John F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish prize. He holds honorary doctorate degrees from Oxford University and Harvard University. 36 stage plays, 15 radio plays, 7 screenplays, 6 fiction and 6 non-fiction works.

Works

  • non-fiction

    • Situation Normal (1944)

    • In Russia (1969)

    • In the Country (1977)

    • Chinese Encounters (1979)

    • Salesman in Beijing (1984)

    • Timebends: A Life, Methuen London (1987)

  • novel

    • Focus (1945)

  • novella

    • The Misfits (1957)

  • radio play

    • The Pussycat and the Expert Plumber Who Was a Man (1941)

    • Joel Chandler Harris (1941)

    • Captain Paul (1941)

    • The Battle of the Ovens (1942)

    • Thunder from the Mountains (1942)

    • I Was Married in Bataan (1942)

    • The Four Freedoms (1942)

    • That They May Win (1943)

    • Listen for the Sound of Wings (1943)

    • Bernardine (1944)

    • I Love You (1944)

    • Grandpa and the Statue (1944)

    • The Philippines Never Surrendered (1944)

    • The Guardsman (1944, based on Ferenc Molnár’s play)

    • The Story of Gus (1947)

  • Screenplay

    • All My Sons (1948)

    • The Hook (1947)

    • Let's Make Love (1960)

  • short stories

    • I Don’t Need You Anymore (1967)

    • Presence: Stories

  • short story

    • Homely Girl (1992, published in United Kingdom as "Plain Girl: A Life" 1995)

    • The Performance

  • stage play

    • No Villain (1936)

    • They Too Arise (1937, based on No Villain)

    • Honors at Dawn (1938, based on They Too Arise)

    • The Grass Still Grows (1938, based on They Too Arise)

    • The Great Disobedience (1938)

    • Listen My Children (1939, with Norman Rosten)

    • The Golden Years (1940)

    • The Man Who Had All the Luck (1940)

    • The Half-Bridge (1943)

    • All My Sons (1947)

    • Death of a Salesman (1949)

    • An Enemy of the People (1950, based on Henrik Ibsen's play An Enemy of the People)

    • The Crucible (1953)

    • A View from the Bridge (1955)

    • A Memory of Two Mondays (1955)

    • After the Fall (1964)

    • Incident at Vichy (1964)

    • The Price (1968)

    • The Reason Why (1970)

    • Fame (one-act, 1970; revised for television 1978)

    • The Creation of the World and Other Business (1972)

    • The Archbishop's Ceiling (1977)

    • The American Clock (1980)

    • Playing for Time (television play, 1980)

    • Elegy for a Lady (short play, 1982, first part of Two Way Mirror)

    • Some Kind of Love Story (short play, 1982, second part of Two Way Mirror)

    • I Think About You a Great Deal (1986)

    • Playing for Time (stage version, 1985)

    • I Can’t Remember Anything (1987, collected in Danger: Memory!)

    • Clara (1987, collected in Danger: Memory!)

    • The Last Yankee (1991)

    • The Ride Down Mount Morgan (1991)

    • Broken Glass (1994)

    • Mr Peter’s Connections (1998)

    • Resurrection Blues (2002)

    • Finishing the Picture (2004)

Views

Quotations: "The playwright is nothing without his audience. He is one of the audience who happens to know how to speak."

Membership

  • Federal Theater Project , USA

    1938 - 1939

  • Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists and Novelists (international association) International , headquarters in London

    1965 - 1969

Interests

  • Philosophers & Thinkers

    Miller said he looked to the Greeks for inspiration, particularly Sophocles. "I think the tragic feeling is evoked in us when we are in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing-his sense of personal dignity," Miller wrote.

Connections

Married 1st Mary Grace Slattery in 1940 (divorced in 1956), one son one daughter.

father:
Isadore - Polish Jewish - business owner

Owned a women's clothing manufacturing business employing some 400 people. He was a wealthy and respected man in the community until the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the family lost almost everything and moved to Gravesend, Brooklyn.

mother:
Augusta (Barnett) Miller - Polish Jewish

1-st wife:
Mary Grace Slattery
Mary Grace Slattery - 1-st wife of Arthur Miller

The couple had two children, Jane and Robert (born May 31, 1947). Divorced in June 1956.

2-nd wife:
Marilyn MONROE

Married on June 25, 1956. Miller and Monroe had met in April 23, 1951, when they had a brief affair, and had remained in contact since then. When Miller attended the House Un-American Activities Committee hearing, to which Monroe accompanied him, risking her own career. Later, Miller began work on The Misfits, starring his wife. Miller later said that the filming was one of the lowest points in his life; shortly before the film's premiere in 1961, the pair divorced. 19 months later, Monroe died of a possible drug overdose.

3-rd wife:
Inge Morath - Ausrian - photographer
Inge Morath - 3-rd wife of Arthur Miller

Married on February 17, 1962. The first of their two children, Rebecca, was born September 15, 1962. Their son Daniel was born with Down syndrome in November 1966; he was institutionalized and excluded from the Millers' personal life at Arthur's insistence. 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, Daniel.

younger sister:
Joan Copeland - American - Actress
Joan Copeland - younger sister of Arthur Miller

Born on June 1, 1922. She began her career during the mid-1940s, appearing in theatre in New York City, where, shortly thereafter, she would become one of the very first members admitted to the newly formed Actors Studio. She moved into television and film during the 1950s. while still maintaining an active stage career. She is best known for her performances in the 1977 Broadway revival of Pal Joey and her award winning performance in the 1981 play The American Clock. She has also played a number of prominent roles on various soap operas throughout her career, including Andrea Whiting on Search for Tomorrow and Gwendolyn Lord Abbott on One Life to Live.

girlfriend:
Agnes Barley - minimalist painter

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.

friend:
Elia Kazan
Elia Kazan - friend of Arthur Miller

Miller's play Death of a Salesman premiered on Broadway on February 10, 1949 at the Morosco Theatre, directed by Elia Kazan. In 1952, Kazan appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC); unwilling to risk his promising career in Hollywood for the Communist cause that he had come to despise, Kazan named eight members of the Group Theatre, including Clifford Odets, Paula Strasberg, Lillian Hellman, Joe Bromberg, and John Garfield, who in recent years had been fellow members of the Communist Party. After speaking with Kazan about his testimony Miller traveled to Salem, Massachusetts to research the witch trials of 1692. The Crucible, in which Miller likened the situation with the House Un-American Activities Committee to the witch hunt in Salem in 1692, 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 and was adapted into an opera by Robert Ward, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1962. Miller and Kazan were close friends throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s, but after Kazan's testimony to the HUAC, the pair's friendship ended, and they did not speak to each other for the next ten years.