Arthur Miller was born on October 17, 1915 in New York. His father was a ladies clothing
manufacturer and owned a shop, but he lost most of his money in the depression
. Miller’s experience with this sudden change
growing up would have a strong impact on his plays in the future, where his characters would often be betrayed by false
values. He and his family moved to a small home in Brooklyn
, and while growing up Miller enjoyed playing baseball
and reading adventure stories. Once he graduated from high school he worked in a warehouse
to earn money for college. Miller decided to pursue a career as a writer after being inspired by Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov
.” In 1934 he went to the University of Michigan
to study journalism, and won a couple of awards for playwriting. The other big award-winner for playwrighting there was Tennessee Williams
Miller ended up majoring in English and after college returned to New York, where he joined the Federal Theatre Project and wrote scripts. Miller also began creating radio programs such as Columbia Workshop for CBS and Cavalcade of America for NBC. In 1940 Miller married Mary Slattery and the couple had two children. His first play to appear on Broadway was “The Man Who Had All the Luck,” in 1944, and it closed after only four performances. In 1947 he wrote “All My Sons,” which ended up winning the New York Drama Critics Circle award.
In 1949, Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” made him famous, and the play is now considered one of the best plays in American history. The tragic story of Willy Loman, who succumbs to hallucinations and eventually suicide, has left critics in contention for years over what Loman’s death signified. Either way, the poignant story of a flawed man with an American dream is an utterly powerful one, and it placed Miller immediately in the ranks as one of the greatest playwrights.
During the 1950s Miller became one of many scrutinized by the United States Congress investigating Communist influence in the arts. He was not allowed a passport to see the premier of his amazing play “The Crucible” in Brussels, which ironically uses the Salem witch hunts as an allegory for the McCarthy era. Actually, the first production of “The Crucible” flopped on Broadway, but it went on to win the Antoinette Perry Award. This play is now one of the most produced plays in the nation (and is probably my favorite play ever). His next work was “A View from the Bridge” in 1955, which went over very well.
Miller continued to undergo scrutiny from the House Committee of Un-American Activities for several years, though all cases against him were dropped in 1958. In 1956 he garnered an honorary degree from the University of Michigan. That same year he married Marilyn Monroe, and they divorced four years later. During their marriage Miller wrote the screenplay “The Misfits,” which starred his wife, Montgomery Clift and Clark Gable. A year after he and Monroe divorced Miller married Inge Morath, a Swedish photographer. The couple co-wrote two books about China and Russia.
In 1965 Miller was elected president of the International Literary Organization, and was a delegate at the 1968 Democratic Convention. He continued to produce numerous well-received plays over the years.
Other works by Arthur Miller include:
“Honors at Dawn”
“The Pussycat and the Expert Plumber who was a Man”
“That They May Win”
“Grandpa and the Statue”
“The Story of G.I. Joe”
“A Memory of Two Mondays”
“Incident at Vichy”
“The Golden Years”
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