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February 10: Death of a Playwright

February 10, 2013

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Arthur Miller died at 89 on this date in 2005, which was the 56th anniversary of the Broadway premiere of Death of a Salesman, his best-known work. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1938, Miller joined the Federal Theater Project until Congress shut it down in 1939. Miller then worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard while writing radio plays, some of which were broadcast on CBS. He achieved early success with All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953), and A View from the Bridge (1955), and was already a celebrity when he married Marilyn Monroe (who converted to Judaism) in 1956. The following year, he was convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to name the names of Communist acquaintances before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. The conviction was overturned on appeal in 1958. In 1969, Miller's works were banned in the USSR after he spoke out in support of dissident Soviet writers. In 1993, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts in the U.S., and in 2003, Israel's Jerusalem Prize.

"I know that my works are a credit to this nation and I dare say they will endure longer than the McCarran Act" —Arthur Miller