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.