(1915 - 2005)
Arthur Miller was born in New York City on October
17, 1915. The son of Augusta and Isidore Miller. His father was a successful
coat manufacturer. The stock market crash led to a dramatic change in
the family circumstance and they were forced to move from an apartment
overlooking Central Park to a more modest place in Brooklyn. Miller
attended James Madison High School and graduated from Abraham Lincoln
High School in 1932. Miller worked in an automobile-parts warehouse
during the Depression after graduating from high school. When he saved
enough money he attended the University of Michigan.
In 1940, he married his college sweetheart, Marcy Grace
Slattery, and had two children. He worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard
during World War II to support
the family while he wrote plays.
Directed by Elia Kazan, his play, All My Sons,
dealt with war and business corruption. It won two Tony Awards and was
selected as one of the 10 best plays of 1947. His next play, also directed
by Kazan, Death of a Salesman (1947), and featuring Lee J. Cobb
as Willy Loman, won the Pulitzer Prize, New York Drama Critics' Circle
Award, and the Tony (the first play to sweep the awards), and became
one of the most famous plays in history.
Miller broke with Elia Kazan over Kazan's decision
to give names of former members of the American Communist Party to the
House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Miller was called
before the committee and said he had never joined the Communist Party.
When he refused to inform on his colleagues, he was cited for contempt
of Congress (the courts dismissed the citation two years later).
Miller's next play, Crucible (1953), based on
the 1692 Salem witch trials was deeply influenced by the blacklisting
of his left-wing friends and reflected the era of McCarthyism. The play
won the Tony and became his most frequently produced work.
Miller met Marilyn Monroe in 1951 at a Hollywood party
and married her (after she converted to Judaism)
in 1956. The marriage lasted only four years, and Miller spent almost
all his time attending to her needs. As a gift to his wife, he wrote
the screenplay for the movie, The Misfits. The picture premiered
in 1961, shortly after their divorce. It was Monroe last film appearance.
Miller married Inge Morath, an Austrian-born photographer,
and they had a daughter who is now a filmmaker (Rebecca Miller who is
married to actor Daniel Day-Lewis). Miller and Morath collaborated on
several books, In Russia (1969), In the Country (1977), Chinese Encounters (1979), and "Salesman" in Beijing (1984). Morath died in 2002.
Other plays by Miller include A View from the Bridge (1955), After the Fall (1963), Incident at Vichy (1964),
and The Price (1968), which was his last commercial success.
In 1980, he wrote Playing for Time (1981), a television movie
based on a book by Fania Fenelon. He staunchly opposed calls by critics
who thought it was inappropriate to have Vanessa Redgrave, an outspoken
critic of Israel, play the lead role
of a woman in Auschwitz.
Miller also wrote an impressive autobiography, Timebends: A Life (1987). Miller wrote
a total of 17 plays, but his later work never matched the success of
his early productions.
Miller died of congestive
heart failure at the age of 89 at his home in Roxbury, CT, on February
Sources: New York Times, (February 11, 2005)
The Spartacus Internet Encyclopedia
Dor le Dor