The Crucible: Biography: Arthur Miller

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Biography

Arthur Aster Miller was born October 17, 1915 in New York City into a Jewish family.  In 1929, his father's business failed and the family had to move to Brooklyn.  Miller graduated from high school there but quit college after only two weeks.  He worked a variety of jobs until 1934 when he was accepted to the University of Michigan where he studied journalism.  In 1936, he changed his major to English when he won a Hopwood Award in Drama for his play, No Villain.  Several of his plays were performed in Ann Arbor and Detroit, MI before his graduation in 1938.  Two years later, he married Mary Grace Slattery and their first child, Jane, was born in 1944.  During this time, he was writing radio plays, novels, and wrote the first draft for the screenplay of The Story of G.I. Joe.  His son Robert was born in 1947, the same year All My Sons premiered.  That year, he also went to work for minimum wage assembling boxes so as not to lose touch with his audience.  In 1948, he wrote Death of a Salesman, and it premiered the next year, winning several awards.  Death of a Salesman is probably his most famous play to date.  He spent time in 1952 in Salem, Massachusetts doing research at the Witch Museum for The Crucible, which premiered in 1953.  He attempted to attend its Belgian premiere but was denied a passport by the US.  He had been having trouble with the House Un-American Activities Committee and it is widely accepted that the theme of The Crucible is the same as that of the witch-hunt for communists.  In 1956, he divorced his first wife and married Marilyn Monroe.  He was also called before the HUAC and received an honorary doctorate from The University of Michigan.  He was convicted of contempt of Congress by the HUAC for refusing to name names.  The conviction was overturned the next year.  In 1961, his mother died and he obtained a divorce from Marilyn Monroe.  He remarried the next year to Inge Morath (Marilyn Monroe also died this year) and they had a daughter, Rebecca, in 1963.  He was actively involved in covering the Nazi trials in Germany and continued to write.  The television production of The Cruciblewas produced by CBS in 1967 and most recently was released as a film with Winona Ryder in 1997.  Arthur Miller has received countless accolades over the years for his writing.  He has worked actively to prevent the restriction of literature around the world.  Most recently, his play, Death of a Salesman, was revived in 1999 on Broadway for its 50th anniversary.

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