History of Literature











Arthur Miller





 



Arthur Miller


 

Arthur Miller

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Arthur Asher Miller (October 17, 1915 – February 10, 2005)[1][2] was an American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent figure in American theatre, writing dramas that include award-winning plays such as All My Sons, Death of a Salesman, and The Crucible.

Miller was often in the public eye, particularly during the late 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s, a period during which he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee, received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and was married to Marilyn Monroe.

 

Biography

Early life

Arthur Asher Miller was born on October 17, 1915, in New York City, the second of three children of Isidore and Augusta Miller, Polish-Jewish immigrants. His father, an illiterate but wealthy businessman, owned a women's clothing store employing 400 people. 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.[4] As a teenager, Miller delivered bread every morning before school to help the family make ends meet. After graduating in 1932 from Abraham Lincoln High School, he worked at several menial jobs to pay for his college tuition.

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 work, No Villain. 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. 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. In 1937, Miller wrote Honors at Dawn, which also received the Avery Hopwood Award.

In 1938, Miller received a BA 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. However, Congress, worried about possible Communist infiltration, closed the project in 1939. Miller began working in the Brooklyn Navy Yard while continuing to write radio plays, some of which were broadcast on CBS.

On August 5, 1940, he married his college sweetheart, Mary Slattery, the Catholic daughter of an insurance salesman. The couple had two children, Jane and Robert. Miller was exempted from military service during World War II because of a high-school football injury to his left kneecap. Robert, a writer and film director, produced the 1996 movie version of The Crucible.

Early career
In 1940 Miller wrote The Man Who Had All the Luck, which was produced in New Jersey in 1940 and won the Theatre Guild's National Award. The play closed after four performances and disastrous reviews. In his book Trinity of Passion, author Alan M. Wald conjectures that Miller was "a member of a writer's unit of the Communist Party around 1946", using the pseudonym Matt Wayne, and editing a drama column in the magazine The New Masses. In 1946 Miller's play All My Sons, the writing of which had commenced in 1941, was a success on Broadway (earning him his first Tony Award, for Best Author) and his reputation as a playwright was established.

In 1948 Miller built a small studio in Roxbury, Connecticut. 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, one of the classics of world theater. Death of a Salesman premiered on Broadway on February 10, 1949 at the Morosco Theatre, directed by Elia 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 Author, the New York Drama Circle Critics' Award, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It was the first play to win all three of these major awards. The play was performed 742 times.

In 1952, Kazan appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC); fearful of being blacklisted from Hollywood, 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, 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 remained 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. The 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. 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 the 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, postulated 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.



Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe

 

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.

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

When Miller applied in 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.

When Miller attended the hearing, to which Monroe accompanied him, risking her own career, he gave the committee a detailed account of his political activities (leaving out the fact that he was a communist party member). Reneging on the chairman's promise, the committee asked him to reveal the names of friends and colleagues who had participated in similar activities. Miller refused to comply with the request, saying "I could not use the name of another person and bring trouble on him." 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. In 1958 his conviction was overturned by the court of appeals, which ruled that Miller had been misled by the chairman of the HUAC.

After his conviction was overturned, Miller began work on The Misfits, starring his wife. Miller said that the filming was one of the lowest points in his life, and shortly before the film's premiere in 1961, the pair divorced. 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 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.



Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe



Later career
In 1964 Miller's next play was produced. After the Fall is a deeply personal view of Miller's 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. That 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. During this period Miller wrote the penetrating family drama, The Price, produced in 1968. It was Miller's most successful play since Death of a Salesman.

In 1969, Miller's works were banned in the Soviet Union after he campaigned for the freedom of dissident writers. 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.

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 and in 1984, Salesman in Beijing, a book about Miller's experiences 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. In late 1987, Miller's autobiographical work, Timebends, was published. Before it was published, it was well-known that Miller would not talk about Monroe in interviews; in Timebends Miller talks about his experiences with Monroe in detail. 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. 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.

In 1993, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. 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. Miller's lecture was entitled "On Politics and the Art of Acting." 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 such as Jay Nordlinger, who called it "a disgrace", and George Will, who argued that Miller was not legitimately a "scholar".

In 1999 Miller was awarded The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, one of the richest prizes in the arts, given annually to “a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.” On May 1, 2002, Miller was awarded Spain's Principe de Asturias Prize for Literature as "the undisputed master of modern drama". Later that year, Ingeborg Morath died of lymphatic cancer at the age of 78. The following year Miller won the Jerusalem Prize.

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.

When interviewed by BBC4 for The Atheism Tapes, he stated that he had been an atheist since his teens.

Miller died of heart failure after a battle against cancer, pneumonia and congestive heart disease at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut. He had been in hospice care at his sister's apartment in New York since his release from hospital the previous month. He died on the evening of February 10, 2005 (the 56th anniversary of the Broadway debut of Death of a Salesman), aged 89, surrounded by Barley, family and friends.



Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe

 


Legacy
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. 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.

 

 

Arthur Miller

American playwright
in full Arthur Asher Miller

born October 17, 1915, New York, New York, U.S.
died February 10, 2005, Roxbury, Connecticut

Main
American playwright, who combined social awareness with a searching concern for his characters’ inner lives. He is best known for Death of a Salesman (1949).

Miller was shaped by the Depression, which spelled financial ruin for his father, a small manufacturer, and demonstrated to the young Miller the insecurity of modern existence. After graduation from high school he worked in a warehouse. With the money he earned he attended the University of Michigan (B.A., 1938), where he began to write plays. His first public success was with Focus (1945), a novel about anti-Semitism. All My Sons (1947), a drama about a manufacturer of faulty war materials that strongly reflects the influence of Henrik Ibsen, was his first important play. Death of a Salesman became one of the most famous American plays of its period. It is the tragedy of Willy Loman, a small man destroyed by false values that are in large part the values of his society. Miller received a Pulitzer Prize for the play, which was later adapted for the screen (1951).

The Crucible (1953) was based on the witchcraft trials in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, a period Miller considered relevant to the 1950s, when investigation of subversive activities was widespread. In 1956, when Miller was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee, he refused to name people he had seen 10 years earlier at an alleged communist writers’ meeting. He was convicted of contempt but appealed and won.

A Memory of Two Mondays and another short play, A View from the Bridge (a story of an Italian-American longshoreman whose passion for his niece destroys him), were staged on the same bill in 1955. After the Fall (1964) is concerned with failure in human relationships and its consequences. The Price (1968) continued Miller’s exploration of the theme of guilt and responsibility to oneself and to others by examining the strained relationship between two brothers. He directed the London production of the play in 1969. The Archbishop’s Ceiling, produced in Washington, D.C., in 1977, dealt with the Soviet treatment of dissident writers. The American Clock, a series of dramatic vignettes based on Studs Terkel’s Hard Times (about the Great Depression), was produced at the 1980 American Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. Later plays include The Ride Down Mount Morgan (1991), Mr. Peters’ Connections (1998), and Resurrection Blues (2002).

Miller also wrote a screenplay, The Misfits (1961), for his second wife, the actress Marilyn Monroe (1926–62); they were married from 1956 to 1961. The filming of The Misfits served as the basis for the play Finishing the Picture (2004). I Don’t Need You Any More, a collection of his short stories, appeared in 1967 and a collection of theatre essays in 1977. His autobiography, Timebends, was published in 1987.

 

 

ARTHUR MILLER



Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe


The finest plays of Arthur Miller (born 1915) were written by the time he was 40, although his reputation has continued to climb, especial in Britain. His first Broadway play in 1944 closed within a week, but All My Sons (1947), a drama of disillusion in the tradition of Ibsen an important influence), was a big success, and his masterpiece, Death of a Salesman (1949) . an even greater one. An American classic, it concerns an ordinary, well-meaning man destroyed by the false values of society. Miller's famous essay on 'Tragedy and The Common Man' was written the same year. The Crucible (1953) is a powerful, if flawed, drama about the witch trials of 17th-century Salem, bur clearly reflected McCarthy's persecution of alleged Communists in contemporary America. A View from the Bridge (1955), set among Sicilian longshoremen (dockers) in Brooklyn, is again concerned with tragedy brought upon a simple family by contemporary values. Perfectly constructed, it features in many 'Eng. Lit.' syllabuses. After a long silence. Miller's next play was the controversial After the Fall (1964), apparently based on his marriage to Marilyn Monroe. Incident at Vichy (1964) concerned the persecution of the Jews; The Price (1968), more widely admired, returned to his old theme of the destruction of family relationships; Broken Glass (1994) won the Olivier Best Play Award.



Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe
 

 

 
     
         
 

Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

 
| privacy