Childhood & Early Life
Arthur Miller was born in Harlem, New York to Isidore and Augusta Miller. Thiers was a Polish Jewish immigrant family. His father was a rich businessman who enjoyed immense respect in the society.
But soon his father lost everything during the Wall Street Crash in 1929 and the family had to move from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Miller used to do small jobs to support his college tuition fee.
Miller went to the University of Michigan to do a major in Journalism and while studying he worked as a reporter and night editor at the Michigan Daily. Soon he switched his major to English literature.
He wrote his first play ‘No Villain’ while he was still in the university. He won the Avery Hopwood Award for this play. This made him consider a career of playwright.
He graduated in English and right after the university, he joined the Federal Theater Project in order to get a job in the theater. He joined the Brooklyn Navy Yard and continued to write radio plays for CBS.
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In 1940, his play ‘The Man Who Had All the Luck’ was produced and exhibited in New Jersey. The play received the Theatre Guild’s National Award. The play did not run for a very long time and closed down after few performances.
In 1946, ‘All of My Sons’ became a Broadway success. He received a Tony Award for the Best Author category for this play. This play established him as a well-known playwright.
In 1948, Miller constructed a small studio for himself in Connecticut. He started writing ‘Death of a Salesman’ there and finished it in a few weeks. This play became one of the classics in the literature.
In 1949, his ‘Death of a Salesman’ was performed at the Moscow Theatre and became an instant commercial success. Miller received a Tony Award, Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Circle Critics’ Award for it.
In 1953, Miller’s ‘The Crucible’, which was a play on the idea that the House Un-American Activities Committee is linked to witch hunting in Salem, was performed at the Neck Theatre. It was also made into an opera.
In 1956, ‘A View from the Bridge’ was performed on the Broadway. It was a verse-drama by Miller and it opened along with one of his other plays called ‘A Memory of Two Mondays’.
In 1961, ‘The Misfits’, starring his ex-wife and a well-known actress Marilyn Monroe, released. The script of this movie was written by Miller. Miller explained the whole filming experience as a low phase in his life.
In 1964, his play ‘After the Fall’ was produced. The play is said to have Miller’s personal experiences from his tormenting marriage with the Hollywood heartthrob Marilyn Monroe. The play opened at the ANTA theatre.
In 1965, Miller became the first American president of the PEN International and remained in that position for the next 4 years. He organized the PEN congress in New York City.
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In 1968, along with working for the PEN International, he wrote a play called ‘The Price’ which became his most successful play after a very longtime, after the success of ‘Death of a Salesman’.
In 1970s, Miller started experimenting with his creativity and wrote plays that were different from his earlier writings and production. He wrote plays like ‘Fame and The Reason Why’, ‘In Country and Chinese Encounters’, ‘Up from paradise’, etc.
In 1978, Miller came out with a collection of his work called ‘Theater Essays’ on which he himself gave a commentary and the collection of his work was edited by Robert A. Martin. He introduced his plays with his own interpretation.
In 1983, ‘Death of a Salesman’ was showcased at the People’s Art Theatre in Beijing, China. He came out with another book called ‘Salesman in Beijing’, reminiscing his experiences of China and its culture.
In 1987, Miller’s autobiographical writing called ‘Timebeds’ was released. In the book he talked about Marilyn Monroe and his marriage to her in detail, coming out with all the explicit details of the trouble between them.
Throughout the 1990s, Miller wrote a bunch of new plays such as ‘The Ride Down Mt. Morgan’, ‘The Last Yankee’ and ‘The Broken Glass’. Around the same time his play ‘The Crucible’ was made into a motion picture.
In 2004, Miller’s ‘Finishing the Picture’ opened at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago. It was a play based on his love affair with Agnes Barley, his lover for many years, and his experiences on working with Marilyn Monroe.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1940, he got married to Mary Grace Slattery and they had two children together - Jane and Robert. But the marriage lasted only for 16 years and he left his wife after his affair with actress Marilyn Monroe.
In 1956, Miller married Marilyn Monroe after an affair of 5 years. Their marriage lasted for 5 years and suffered two miscarriages. His relationship with Monroe was full of ups and downs.
In 1962, Miller married a professional photographer Inge Morath and had two children with her - Rebecca and Daniel. They remained married until her death.
In 2004, Miller came out public with his love affair with a 34 year old painter Agnes Barley. He was 89 at the time. They intended to get married but it could never materialize as their relationship was opposed by his daughter.
In 2005, Miller died after struggling with cancer, in Connecticut. He died of heart failure, pneumonia and cognitive heart disease. His remains are buried at the Roxbury Center Cemetery, Roxbury.
Miller’s daughter Rebecca was against his affair with Agnes Barley.
Just after his death, his daughter Rebecca asked Barley to leave the premises.
While he was ill towards the end of his life, he lived under care in his sister’s apartment, surrounded with Barley and family.
His biography ‘Arthur Miller: The Definitive Biography’, written by Christopher Bigsy, reveals the unpublished works of Miller.