Sun, Feb 13, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Playwright Arthur Miller dies at 89

`LOSS OF A GIANT' Miller, who died of heart failure at his Connecticut home, had dominated world stages with his dramas of fierce moral and personal responsibility


Arthur Miller and his then wife Marilyn Monroe wait for the curtain to rise on the first night's performance of Miller's play A View from the Bridge in this 11 Oct. 1956 file photo. It was reported on Friday that Miller has died at age 89.


Arthur Miller, whose dramas of fierce moral and personal responsibility such as Death of a Salesman and The Crucible made him one of the 20th century's greatest playwrights, has died at the age of 89.

Miller, died on Thursday night of congestive heart failure at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut, surrounded by his family, his assistant, Julia Bolus, said on Friday.

For decades, the playwright, along with Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams, dominated not only US stages, but theaters throughout the world. Broadway marquees were to dim their lights on Friday night at curtain time.

"It is the loss of a giant," said Robert Falls, director of the 1999 Broadway revival of Death of Salesman that starred Brian Dennehy as the iconic title character Willy Loman.

Playwright Edward Albee, recalling how Miller once paid him a compliment by saying that Albee's plays were "necessary," said, "I will go one step further and say that Arthur's plays were `essential.'"

It was Loman and Death of a Salesman, which took Miller only six weeks to write, that cemented his reputation when it opened on Broadway in 1949, starring Lee Cobb and directed by Elia Kazan. Loman was a man destroyed by his own stubborn belief in the glory of US capitalism and its spell of success.

"I couldn't have predicted that a work like Death of a Salesman would take on the proportions it has," Miller said in an interview 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."

Miller's marriage to film star Marilyn Monroe in 1956, following his divorce from his first wife, Mary Slattery, gave the playwright a celebrity he tried to avoid.

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."

The marriage, which ended in divorce, did provide material for two of his plays: After the Fall (1964), the story of a tempestuous singer not unlike Monroe; and his last major work, Finishing the Picture, produced last year at the Goodman Theater in Chicago. A rueful, yet generous play, it dealt with the misbehavior of a film star on a movie set, similar to The Misfits, which Miller wrote and which starred Monroe. In 1962, he married his third wife, photographer Inge Morath. That same year, Monroe committed suicide.

His success seemed to wane during the next two decades, despite a well-received Broadway revival of Death of a Salesman starring Dustin Hoffman, in 1984.

Miller had two children, Jane Ellen and Robert, by Slattery, and he and Morath, who died in 2002, had one daughter, Rebecca, a filmmaker married to actor Daniel Day-Lewis.

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