Friday, February 11, 2005

Arthur Miller -- Dead at Age 89

Just found out that great American (oops, almost said Canadian!) playwright Arthur Miller died of heart failure.

Didn't just about everyone study at least one of his plays, or perform in a production of "Death of a Salesman"?

For years, while growing up, I heard that Mr. Miller was supposed to be a relative on my maternal side -- perhaps it was his father or grandfather (can't remember which) who left the Old Country to come to America. Anyhow, it was via his paternal side that I was supposed to have been related on my maternal side. (are you still with me? do you need a translator?)

Apparently some relatives tried to seek him out over the years and confirm this information, but he denied it -- what did he know? He was a playwright, not a genealogist! I even recall, when the Toronto Film Festival was on one year, I went down to the hotel where he was staying, with a letter in hand to be delivered to his room by hotel staff, explaining the "family link" -- after all, "mishpocheh is mishpocheh"! Needless to say, I never did get a reply.

But it also occurred to me all those years ago: If I was in fact related to Arthur Miller, as some first cousin thrice removed, or something offbeat like that, did that mean I was related to Marilyn Monroe, too? Had I been around in the fifties, might I have been able to call her up, invite her for a Shabbos dinner, and address her as 'cuz?

And I wonder: Would I also be able to call Daniel Day-Lewis, Miller's son-in-law, 'cuz? (You have heard of "six degrees of separation," haven't you? Well, this would be seven!)

May Arthur Miller rest in peace. Amen.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pearl
We read about Arthur Miller's death here in Taiwan today too, front page news story in the afternoon editions of the local Chinese-langage papers. Showed a photo of him kissing Marilyn Monroe.

One thing. Why say he died of heart failture? Why always list cause of death? Who cares the medcal reason? Sillly. he died of old age, is that not enuf to say? 89 is died of old age.

the papers always say things like so and so died of kidney failure, heart failure, liver disease, lung cancer, who cares? Anyone who makes it past 80 should get resecpt from the meda and us bloggers and just say p9olitely

"Arthur Miller died today at 89 of natural causes." Why list the exact disease. i hate that. IMHO.

Anonymous said...

i'm with ya Pearl. i hear ya. i'm standing right here feeling what youre feeling. i'm also not related to Arthur Miller. it hurts bad. it hurts deep because i kinda wish i kinda was.

on the other hand, i really enjoy having media outlets know and publish what a person died of. especially a famous person. big time saver for me. i can skip like, three to seven steps before coming to a final conclusion about the person based on what they died of. in Arthur's case i have to say if he wouldnt have let his heart beat so freely he might not have died of heart failure! silly Arthur. really silly. -ctstreet

dan said...

Pearl,
I think that second anon person was a crank call. Ignore him. But here is a good Marilyn story re Arthur Miller and literature. And by the way, did you know he was living with a 34 year old painter for the past two years, they met at a dinner party and began dating, when he was 87, she was 32. For six months they dined together and slowly fell in love. Cynics might look askance at this, but I love it. I am glad Mr Miller and Ms Agnes Barley (google her) had a chance to meet and fall in love. Today is Valentine's Day. right? here is the story from the NYTimes obit: Not a relationship obit, but a real obituary, 6 pages in the Times online. Written long before he died of course, as all obits of famous people are prepared years ahead of time. Time?

NYT: In 1965, Mr. Miller accepted the presidency of PEN International, the association of poets, editors, essayists, novelists and other literary figures, and he became increasingly active in defending the rights of writers. He was fond of recalling an appeal he received in 1966 to send some sort of message to Gen. Yakubu Gowon, who was about to take over the Nigerian government, to save the Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka, who was facing execution. Mr. Miller wrote that when the general saw his name he asked "with some incredulity whether I was the writer who had been married to Marilyn Monroe and, assured that that was so, ordered Soyinka released."

"How Marilyn would have enjoyed that one!" he added. Mr. Soyinka went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986.

Anonymous said...

Entouré de ses proches
Selon son assistante, Arthur Miller s'est éteint à son domicile de Roxbury, dans le Connecticut, succombant à un arrêt cardiaque. Depuis quelques jours, sa famille se relayait à son chevet, dont sa fille Rebecca, mariée à l'acteur Daniel Day-Lewis, ses petits-enfants et son amie de 55 ans sa cadette, la peintre Agnes Barley. Arthur Miller était sorti du Centre anti-cancer Memorial Sloan Kettering de New York, il y a quelques semaines. Cette semaine, le dramaturge et romancier avait, à sa demande, regagné sa ferme du 18e siècle de Roxbury, dans le Connecticut, qu'il avait achetée en 1958, pendant son mariage avec Marilyn Monroe.

torontopearl said...

Merci beaucoup pour vos comments de la morte d'Arthur Miller. Je regrette que ma francais ce n'est pas meilleur. J'ai compris ce que tu a ecrit, mais c'est difficile pour moi a reponder en francais parce que j'ai oublie beaucoup!