Death of a Greats Man

Discussion in 'Off-topic Zone' started by Nors, Feb 11, 2005.

  1. Nors

    Nors Benched

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    Greatest Writer of this era, reclusive and in Marilyn Monroes pants. An ICON ;)

    Arthur Miller
    dies at age 89
    Writer won Pulitzer Prize for ‘Death of a Salesman’
    The Associated Press
    Updated: 2:19 p.m. ET Feb. 11, 2005ROXBURY, Conn. - Arthur Miller, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright whose most famous fictional creation, Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman,” came to symbolize the American Dream gone awry, has died. He was 89.


    Miller, who had been hailed as America’s greatest living playwright, died Thursday night at his home in Roxbury of heart failure, his assistant, Julia Bolus, said Friday. His family was at his bedside, she said.

    His plays, with their strong emphasis on family, morality and personal responsibility, spoke to the growing fragmentation of American society.

    “A lot of my work goes to the center of where we belong — if there is any root to life — because nowadays the family is broken up, and people don’t live in the same place for very long,” Miller said in a 1988 interview.

    “Dislocation, maybe, is part of our uneasiness. It implants the feeling that nothing is really permanent.”

    Playwright Edward Albee said Miller had paid him a compliment, saying “that my plays were ‘necessary.’ I will go one step further and say that Arthur’s plays are ‘essential.”’

    Miller’s career was marked by early success. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for “Death of a Salesman” in 1949, when he was just 33 years old.

    Unwanted publicity
    His marriage to Marilyn Monroe in 1956 further catapulted the playwright to fame, though that was publicity he said he never pursued.

    free video


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    In a 1992 interview with a French newspaper, he called her “highly self-destructive” and said that during their marriage, “all my energy and attention were devoted to trying to help her solve her problems. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much success.”

    “Death of a Salesman,” which took Miller only six weeks to write, earned rave reviews when it opened on Broadway in February 1949, directed by Elia Kazan.

    The story of Willy Loman, a man destroyed by his own stubborn belief in the glory of American capitalism and the redemptive power of success, was made into a movie and staged all over the world.

    “I couldn’t have predicted that a work like ‘Death of a Salesman’ would take on the proportions it has,” Miller said in 1988. “Originally, it was a literal play about a literal salesman, but it has become a bit of a myth, not only here but in many other parts of the world.”

    Arthur Miller changed landscape of American theater

    In 1999, 50 years after it won the Tony Award as best play, “Death of a Salesman” won the Tony for best revival of the Broadway season. The show also won the top acting prize for Brian Dennehy, who played Loman.

    Miller, then 83, received a lifetime achievement award.

    “Just being around to receive it is a pleasure,” he joked to the audience during the awards ceremony.

    From 'All My Sons' to 'The Crucible'
    Miller won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle’s best play award twice in the 1940s, for “All My Sons” in 1947 and for “Death of a Salesman.” In 1953, he received a Tony Award for “The Crucible,” a play about mass hysteria during the Salem witch trials that was inspired by the repressive political environment of McCarthyism.

    That play, still read by thousands of American high-school students each year, is Miller’s most frequently performed work.


    • A great career remembered
    Feb 11: Actor Brian Dennehy, who won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Willy Loman in "Death of A Salesman," remembers playwright Arthur Miller.

    Miller and Monroe divorced after five years and in 1962 he married his third wife, photographer Inge Morath. That same year, Monroe committed suicide. Miller wrote the screenplay for the Monroe film “The Misfits,” which came out in 1960, and reflected on their relationship in his 1963 play “After the Fall.”

    Reminiscing about Monroe in his 1987 autobiography, “Timebends: A Life,” Miller lamented that she was rarely taken seriously as anything but a sex symbol.

    “To have survived, she would have had to be either more cynical or even further from reality than she was,” he wrote. “Instead, she was a poet on a street corner trying to recite to a crowd pulling at her clothes.”

    Miller’s success, so overwhelming in the 1940s and ’50s, seemed to be on the wane during the next two decades. But the 1980s brought a renewal of interest, beginning with a Broadway revival of “Death of a Salesman” starring Dustin Hoffman in 1984.

    Enthusiasm for Miller’s work was particularly strong in England, which marked his 75th birthday in 1990 with four major productions of his plays.

    'Salesman' goes to China
    Miller also directed a Chinese production of “Death of a Salesman” at the Beijing Peoples’ Art Theatre in 1983.

    Those who saw the Beijing production may not have identified with Loman’s career, Miller wrote, but they shared his desire, “which was to excel, to win out over anonymity and meaninglessness, to love and be loved, and above all, perhaps, to count.”

    In his later years, Miller became increasingly disillusioned with Broadway, and in 1991 he premiered a new play, “The Ride Down Mt. Morgan,” in London — the first time he had opened a play outside of the United States.

    Who is America's best dramatic playwright?

    Miller said at the time he opted for the London opening to avoid the “dark defeatism” of the New York theater scene.

    “There is an open terror of the critics (in New York) and of losing fortunes of money,” Miller said in an interview that year. “I have always hated that myself. All in all, it seemed like we ought to do the play in London.”

    He returned to Broadway in 1994 with “Broken Glass,” a drama about a dysfunctional family that won respectful reviews and a Tony nomination, but no big audiences. In London, it won an Olivier award as best play.

    Even in his later years, Miller continued to write.

    “It is what I do,” he said in a 1996 interview with The Associated Press.

    “It is my art. I am better at it than I ever was. And I will do it as long as I can. When you reach a certain age you can slough off what is unnecessary and concentrate on what is. And why not?”

    “Resurrection Blues” had its world premiere at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis in the summer of 2002 when Miller was 86. Set in an unnamed banana republic, the satire dealt with the possible televised execution of a revolutionary.

    Rediscovering Miller
    In recent years New York even rediscovered Miller’s first Broadway play, “The Man Who Had All the Luck,” which was a four-performance flop in 1944, but had a successful revival, starring Chris O’Donnell, nearly six decades later.

    Last October, another new play, “Finishing the Picture,” premiered at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. It was based on an episode of his marriage to Monroe.

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