Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Arthur Asher Miller (October 17, 1915 – February 10, 2005) was an American playwright, essayist, and author. He was a prominent figure in American literature and cinema for over 60 years, writing a wide variety of plays. Miller's best known works were The Crucible and Death of a Salesman, which are widely studied and performed. He was also known for his short-lived marriage to Marilyn Monroe.
Miller was born to a moderately wealthy family of Polish-Jewish immigrants in Brooklyn. His father was Isadore, an illiterate but successful women's clothing manufacturer; his mother was Augusta, a housewife and schoolteacher. He had two older siblings: Kermit, whom he greatly admired, and Joan. The family lived in a Manhattan penthouse overlooking Central Park until Isadore was ruined in the Great Depression and in 1929 was forced to move to Harlem. This event would shade Miller's later works.
Miller attended Public School #24 in Harlem from 1920 to 1928, and saw his first play (a melodrama) in 1923 at the Schubert Theatre. At Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, Miller was a talented athlete and mediocre student. He was rejected by both the University of Michigan and Cornell University. After graduating, he read works of Charles Dickens and Fyodor Dostoevsky and worked at an auto parts warehouse. There Miller experienced a great deal of anti-Semitism, which influenced his later words (especially A Memory of Two Mondays ). Miller put $13 of every $15 paycheck he earned into a college fund and reapplied to University of Michigan, where he was accepted in 1934.
At the University of Michigan, Miller studied journalism and drama, becoming paticluarly interested in ancient Greek drama and the dramas of Henrik Ibsen. During spring break in 1936 (his sophomore year), he wrote his first work, Honors at Dawn (reportedly because of a contest offering a $250 cash prize, which he won). The play centered around a strike and the main character's inability to express himself, and won an Avery Hopwood Award, the first of two he received. Miller retained strong ties to his alma mater throughout the rest of his life, establishing the Arthur Miller Award in 1985 and Arthur Miller Award for Dramatic Writing in 1999, and lending his name to the Arthur Miller Theatre in the forthcoming Walgreen Drama Center. The University also honored its distinguished alumnus with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 1956 and several tributes and symposia on his frequent returns to Ann Arbor.
In 1938, Miller received his bachelor's degree in English. In 1940, he married his college sweetheart, Mary Slattery (with whom he had two children, Jane and Robert). He was exempted from military service during World War II because of a football injury.
Miller's 1949 play Death of a Salesman won the Pulitzer Prize and three Tony Awards, as well as the New York Drama Critics Circle Award . It was the first play ever to win all three. His next play, The Crucible, opened on Broadway on January 22, 1953. In 1956, he divorced his wife. In June of the same year, he appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee, having been named by Elia Kazan as having attended Communist Party meetings, and at the end of the month (June 29), he married Marilyn Monroe, whom he had met eight years earlier through Kazan. (Monroe converted to Judaism for the marriage.)
On May 31, 1957, Miller was found guilty of contempt of Congress for refusing to reveal the names of members of a literary circle suspected of Communist affiliation. His conviction was reversed August 8, 1958, by the U.S. Court of Appeals. The same year, he published Collected Plays.
On January 24, 1961, he and Monroe divorced. He married Inge Morath a year later, on February 17, 1962. They had met when she and other photographers from the Magnum agency documented the making of The Misfits. They would have two children, Rebecca and Daniel. According to biographer Martin Gottfried , Daniel was born in 1962 with Down Syndrome. Miller placed Daniel in an institution in Roxbury, Connecticut, and never visited him (although Morath did). Miller fails to mention Daniel in Timebends, his 1987 autobiography, and the issue was ignored in the New York Times obituary of February 11, 2005 (though it was reported in the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere). Rebecca Miller is a screenwriter, actor and director.
On January 30, 2002, Inge Morath died. On May 1 of the same year, Miller was awarded Spain's Principe de Asturias Prize for Literature as "the undisputed master of modern drama". Previous winners include Doris Lessing, GŁnter Grass and Carlos Fuentes.
In December 2004, the 89-year-old Miller announced that he had been living with a 34-year-old artist named Agnes Barley at his Roxbury, Connecticut farm since 2002, and that they were planning to marry. However, Miller died at home on February 10, 2005 from congestive heart failure.
See also Hollywood Ten.
- Honors at Dawn (1935)
- The Golden Years (1940, first performed 1990)
- The Man Who Had All the Luck (1944)
- All My Sons (1947)
- Death of a Salesman (1949)
- The Crucible (1953)
- A Memory of Two Mondays (1955)
- A View from the Bridge (1955)
- After the Fall (1964)
- Incident at Vichy (1965)
- The Price (1968)
- The Creation of the World and Other Business (1972)
- The Archbishop's Ceiling (1977)
- The American Clock (1981)
- Elegy For a Lady (1982)
- Some Kind of Love Story (1982)
- (I Can't Remember Anything and Clara) (1986)
- The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (1991)
- The Last Yankee (1993)
- Broken Glass (1994)
- Mr. Peters' Connections (1998)
- The Ryan Interview (2000)
- Resurrection Blues (2004)
- Finishing the Picture (2004)
- The Misfits (IMDB) (1961)
- An Enemy of the People (IMDB – adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's play) (1966)
- Playing for Time (IMDB -- for TV) (1980)
- Everybody Wins (IMDB) (1989)
- (1944)Situation Normal
- (1945) Focus
- The Reason Why
- Homely Girl, a Life: And Other Stories
- The Theater Essays of Arthur Miller
- The Arthur Miller Society
- New York Times Obituary
- Los Angeles Times Obituary
- BBC News Obituary
- Obituary from the Christian Science Monitor
- Remembrance from the University of Michigan
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