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Arthur Asher Miller

Arthur Asher Miller

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Published by: EgyEng91 on Jan 04, 2010
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Arthur Asher Miller
Arthur Asher Miller (October 17, 1915 – February 10, 2005)[1][2]was anAmerican  playwrightand essayist. He was a prominent figure inAmerican theatre,writingdramasthat include awards- winning plays such as All My Sons,Death of a Salesman, andThe Crucible. Miller was often in the public eye, particularly during the late 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s, a period during which he testified before theHouse Un-American Activities Committee, received thePulitzer Prize for Drama, and was married toMarilyn Monroe.
Early life
Arthur Miller was the second of three children of Isidore and Augusta Miller, who were Polish-Jewishimmigrants.[2]His father, an illiterate but wealthy businessman, owned a women's clothing store employing 400 people. The family, including hisyounger sister Joan,lived onEast 110th StreetinManhattanand owned a summer house inFar Rockaway, Queens. They employed a chauffeur.[3]In theWall 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.[3]After graduating in 1932 fromAbraham Lincoln High School, he worked at several menial jobs to pay for his college tuition.[4][5] At the University of Michigan, Miller first majored in journalism and worked as a reporter and night editor for the student paper, theMichigan Daily. It was during this time that he wrote his firstwork, No Villain.[6]Miller switched his major to English, and subsequently won theAvery Hopwood Awardfor No Villain. He was mentored byProfessor Kenneth Rowe, who instructed him in his early forays into playwriting.[7]Miller retained strong ties to his alma mater throughout therest of his life, establishing the university's Arthur Miller Award in 1985 and Arthur Miller Awardfor Dramatic Writing in 1999, and lending his name to the Arthur Miller Theatre in 2000.[8] In 1937, Miller wroteHonors at Dawn, which also received the Avery Hopwood Award.[6] In 1938, Miller received aBA in English. After graduation, he joined theFederal Theater Project, a  New Dealagency established to provide jobs in the theater. He chose the theater project although hehad an offer to work as a scriptwriter for 20th Century Fox.[6]However,Congress, worried about  possibleCommunistinfiltration, closed the project in 1939.[4]Miller began working in the Brooklyn Navy Yardwhile continuing to writeradio plays, some of which were broadcast onCBS. [4][6]On August 5, 1940, he married his college sweetheart, Mary Slattery, the Catholic daughter of aninsurance salesman.[9]The couple had two children, Jane and Robert. Miller was exempted frommilitary service duringWorld War II  because of a high-schoolAmerican footballinjury to his left kneecap.[4]Robert, a writer and film director, produced the 1996 movie version of TheCrucible[10].
Early career
In 1940 Miller wroteThe Man Who Had All the Luck , which was produced in New Jersey in 1940and won the Theater Guild's National Award.[11] The play closed after the four performances and disastrous reviews.[12]In his book Trinity of Passion, author Alan M. Wald conjectures that Miller was "a member of a writer's unit of theCommunist Partyaround 1946", using the pseudonym MattWayne, and editing a drama column in the magazine The New Masses.[13] In 1946 Miller's play All My Sons, the writing of which had commenced in 1941, was a success on Broadway (earninghim his firstTony Award,for Best Author ) and his reputation as a playwright was established.[14] In 1948 Miller built a small studio inRoxbury, Connecticut, a town that was to be his long timehome. There, in less than a day, he wrote Act I of Death of a Salesman. Within six weeks, hecompleted the rest of the play,[6]one of the classics of world theater.[4][15]Death of a Salesman  premiered on Broadway on February 10, 1949 at the Morosco Theatre, directed byElia Kazan,and starringLee J. Cobbas Willy Loman,Mildred Dunnock as Linda,Arthur Kennedy as Biff, and Cameron Mitchellas 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 Prizefor Drama. It was the first play to win all three of these major awards. The play was performed 742 times.[4]In 1952, Kazan appeared before theHouse Un-American Activities Committee(HUAC); fearful of  being blacklisted from Hollywood, Kazan named eight members of the Group Theatre, includingClifford Odets, Paula Strasberg, Lillian Hellman,Joe Bromberg,andJohn Garfield,[16] who in recent years had been fellow members of the Communist Party.[17]After speaking with Kazan about his testimony[18]Miller traveled toSalem, Massachusettsto research thewitch trials of  1692.[9] The Crucible, anallegoricalplay in which Miller likened the situation with the House Un- American Activities Committee to the witch hunt in Salem,[19] opened at the Beck Theatre on Broadwayon January 22, 1953. Though widely considered only somewhat successful at the time of its initial release, todayThe Crucibleis Miller's most frequently produced work throughout theworld[9]and was adapted into anoperabyRobert Wardwhich 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 HUAC, the pair's friendship ended, and they did not speak to each other for the next ten years.[17]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.[6]Kazan defended his own actions through his filmOn the Waterfront, in which a dockworker heroically testifies against acorrupt union boss.Miller's experience with HUAC affected him throughout his life. In the late 1970s he became veryinterested 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 andlittle other evidence.City Confidential, anA&E Network program about the murder, postulated that  part of the reason Miller took such an active interest (including supporting Reilly's defense andusing 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 Generalwho had initially prosecuted the case.[20][21]

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