By Brianna Arrighi, Artistic Assistant
Death of a Salesman is one of the most successful plays of all time, sure, but it might not have the romance you’re looking for this Valentine’s Day. Fear not- playwright Arthur Miller makes up for it with his own love life, which was famously defined by his marriage to Marilyn Monroe.
According to an excerpt from Christopher Bigsby’s biography on the pair, Miller first met Monroe in 1951 on the set of As Young As You Feel, where the two were introduced and attended a party together a few days later. He praised her acting and encouraged her dreams of becoming a serious actress. Monroe was famously insecure about what people thought of her and his kind words drew her to the young writer. Miller, married to Mary Grace Slattery at the time, returned home “restless” after his brief encounter with the Hollywood bombshell. He grew increasingly distant from his wife, taking up cycling around Brooklyn aimlessly. Despite sensing the “darkness” behind Monroe’s radiance, Miller began meeting the icon regularly in 1955, after Monroe purchased a house in Brooklyn where the two would discreetly bike through Central Park together.
In June of the same year, trouble struck Miller in regards to his known rivalry towards the McCarthyism and the Communist Fear, which resulted in a subpoena from the American Committee to look into Miller’s inner circles. Monroe, at the center of his inner circle, quickly became publicly involved, and the rumors surrounding her relationship with Miller became quite scandalous. (Just to note Monroe’s stardom at this point: the Chairman of the Committee told Miller that he would waive the order if Marilyn would pose for a picture with him. Miller refused.) The playwright then announced in front of the same Committee of his intention to marry Monroe. “I have a production, which is taking the stage of England, of A View From the Bridge, and I will be there with the woman who will then be my wife,” Miller declared. It was a shock to Marilyn, but two days later, the pair was married in a civil service and again in a Jewish ceremony amongst friends two days after that.
For those of you who have seen the British drama, My Week With Marilyn, featuring Michelle Williams as the doe-eyed star, you know that things grew complicated from there. Monroe was a very complicated person, despite her fun-loving appearance, and her relationship with Miller was one that the author described as “destructive” at best. So maybe Miller’s love-life wasn’t so separate from the drama that is Salesman.
Though in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we can just pretend.
For a closer look at the relationship between Miller & Monroe:check out this article!