Miller, Arthur life and biography

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Miller, Arthur biography

Date of birth : 1915-10-17
Date of death : 2005-02-10
Birthplace : New York City, New York
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2010-04-22
Credited as : American playwright, Marilyn Monroe, Pulitzer Prize for Drama

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Arthur Asher Miller (October 17, 1915 – February 10, 2005) was an American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent figure in American theatre, writing dramas.

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.

Literally setting the stage and defining American theater for the seven decades he wrote plays, Arthur Miller’s works depict the everyday, common man fighting for his place in life and society. With a keen sense of what is real and important, Miller’s work is reminiscent of Greek Tragedy, but adapted for the modern audience – who he claims is whom all artists, especially playwright’s should aim to inform.

Arthur Miller’s better known works include All My Sons, Death of A Salesman, and The Crucible. His plays have won Tony Awards, New York Drama Critics Circle awards, and a Pulitzer Prize. These plays display middle-class Americans attempting to make it against a corrupt system and government with the odds against them. He was believed to be a communist sympathizer, which can be seen in his play An Enemy of the People.

Miller attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. While there, he first majored in Journalism, then went onto pursue a degree in Literature after studying ancient Greek drama. He married his college sweetheart Mary Slatter, but divorced her later after his fame. He then married the Marilyn Monroe. The two also divorced. However, it was Marilyn Monroe’s public support for him that Miller was able to have charges dropped against him for being found in contempt of Congress for not revealing the names of Communists in the House Committee for Un-American Activities.

Miller and Marilyn Monroe spent endless amounts of time together during the shooting of the film The Misfits. Monroe’s drug habits and open promiscuity with Yves Montand during the shooting led to emotional breakdowns for the two and the eventual ending of their marriage. The story is depicted in the autobiography of Arthur Miller called Timebends: A Life, which was released in 1987. It was with Inge Morath that Miller would have two children and would stay married until her death in 2004. Further showcasing the playwright’s interesting personal and public life was a biography sketch in the PBS documentary called The Making of the Misfits by John Huston. Before his death in 2005, Miller had announced his engagement to painter Agnes Barley.


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 theaters 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 theater 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.

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