A Jewish prayer book or ‘Siddur’ acquired and personally annotated by Marilyn during her 1956 conversion will be auctioned at J. Greenstein & Co in Cedarhurst, New York on November 12, with an estimated price of $5,000 – $8,000, as Anthea Gerrie reports for the Jewish Chronicle. (Originally purchased at Christie’s in 1999, it went unsold at another New York auction last November.)
“The Siddur, being sold on behalf of an Israel-based American who bought it directly from the star’s estate in 1999, bears the imprint of the Avenue N Jewish Center in Brooklyn.
This was the shul of playwright Arthur Miller, Monroe’s third husband, and Jonathan Greenstein, New York’s prime auctioneer of Judaica, says a current member of the congregation has ambitions to return it to the synagogue: ‘He will be bidding on it himself, as he says it is known that Marilyn and Arthur Miller attended services there.’
It was not where the star studied for her conversion. Her mentor was Connecticut-based Rabbi Robert Goldburg, who married the couple in 1956 and later presided over Seders they attended.
History suggests she was driven to convert not only by her love for Miller, but rejection of the Christian fundamentalism practised by her foster parents … But despite keeping her Siddur close, playing the Hatikvah from time to time on her menorah and maintaining a mezuzah on her doorpost, Monroe did not get a Jewish burial.”
In 1955, Marilyn famously told broadcaster Dave Garroway that she hoped to retire to Brooklyn. Her friend, poet Norman Rosten, lived at Brooklyn Heights. Brooklyn was also the childhood home of playwright Arthur Miller, who became her third husband in 1956. In an article for the New York Times, Helene Stapinski explores Miller’s lifelong connections to Brooklyn.
“Miller was born in Manhattan and lived as a boy in Harlem in a spacious apartment overlooking Central Park. His father, Isidore, a Jewish émigré from Poland, owned a clothing business that allowed the family a certain level of luxury: three bathrooms, a chauffeur-driven car and a summer place in Far Rockaway.
Before the stock market crash, the business began to fail, and so, in 1928, Isidore and his wife, Augusta — Izzie and Gussie — moved the family to the borough of churches and cheap rents. After a short stint at 1277 Ocean Parkway, the Millers bought for $5,000 a six-room house on East Third Street and Avenue M in the Parkville section, a couple of blocks from Gussie’s family.
After graduating and marrying his college sweetheart, Mary Slattery, Miller returned to Brooklyn in 1940 and moved in with her and her roommates in a seven-room apartment at 62 Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights, an impressive Queen-Anne-style building.
After some financial success with All My Sons, Miller, by then the father of two children, Jane and Robert, bought a four-story brownstone at 31 Grace Court in 1947. The Millers rented out the bottom two floors to the president of the Brooklyn Savings Bank.
Death of a Salesman, which traces the last day in the failed life of an aging, regretful man, was conceived and finished on Grace Court, though the first draft was written in the family’s new country house in Roxbury, Conn., in a studio Miller built himself.
While living on Grace Court, Miller took long walks over the Brooklyn Bridge and under it, to the working docks where he noticed graffiti that said, ‘Dove Pete Panto,’ Italian for ‘Where Is Pete Panto?’
Mr. Panto had been battling the International Longshoremen’s Association, and disappeared, his body eventually turning up in New Jersey. Miller read about Mr. Panto’s case in the press and tried talking to the longies, or longshoremen, on Columbia Street in Red Hook to write a screenplay.
From his waterfront research, Miller wrote The Hook, a screenplay based on Mr. Panto’s life, which he pitched in Hollywood with Elia Kazan in 1951. The screenplay was never produced, but he met Marilyn Monroe on that trip west.
That same year, Miller, tired of being a landlord, sold the Grace Court house to W.E.B. Dubois. He moved with his family to their final home together at 155 Willow Street, a Federal-style, red brick house two blocks from where Truman Capote would soon live.
In his top-floor office, Miller wrote The Crucible and an early version of A View From the Bridge. Trying to be a good husband, and guilty about his feelings for Monroe, Miller installed kitchen cabinets and a tile floor in the hallway.
According to Miller, the marriage was already floundering when he met Monroe. He moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan in 1955, where he spent time in a West Side brownstone and in Monroe’s Waldorf Tower apartment. They eventually moved to a house in Roxbury.
In the spring of 1956, he briefly took up residence in Nevada, divorced his wife and promptly married Monroe. Their marriage lasted five turbulent years, during which he wrote the screenplay for the film The Misfits for her.
Miller remained close to his children, who continued to live on Willow Street with their mother.
After he married Monroe, Miller took her to meet his parents in the house where he had grown up. His sister remembers the neighborhood children climbing on one another’s shoulders to peek through the windows for a look.
‘My mother would open the window and yell at them to go away,’ Ms. Copeland said.
Though Miller moved out of New York and lived in Roxbury for the rest of his life, his work and characters still have that accent that can be found only in Brooklyn, along with particulars of the borough: the Brooklyn Paramount, the bowling alley on Flatbush Avenue, St. Agnes Church and Red Hook, ‘the gullet of New York.'”
“When I retire, I want to retire to Brooklyn…it’s my favorite place in the world so far that I’ve seen. I haven’t traveled much, but I don’t think I’ll find anything else to replace Brooklyn. I just like walking around. I think the view is better from Brooklyn, you know, you can look back over and see Manhattan. That’s the best view…It’s the people…I like the streets, just the people and the streets and the atmosphere, I just like it.” – Marilyn to Dave Garroway, NBC Radio, 1955
“84 Remsen St.: Lots of literature lovers can tell you where Arthur Miller lived in Brooklyn Heights. But do they know where the late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright met Hollywood goddess Marilyn Monroe?
According to Furman, it was at 84 Remsen St., in the home of Norman Rosten, the late playwright, novelist and Poet Laureate of Brooklyn. Rosten and Miller had been friends since their days as students at the University of Michigan.
As everybody knows, Miller and Monroe did not live happily after. They married in 1956 and divorced five years later.
The Remsen Street brownstone where Rosten once lived now belongs to philanthropists Joseph and Diane Steinberg, Finance Department records indicate.”
Happy Independence Day to all our American readers! This ‘paste-up’ by street artist Pegasus – blending MM in The Seven Year Itch with the Statue of Liberty – can now be seen in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn, NYC.
“Walking down Willow Street the other day, our group was greeted by a blonde in very high heels and a slit skirt.
‘Where have you been? I’ve been waiting!’ she cried. It was Marilyn, who just happened to be standing in front of the brownstone where playwright Arthur Miller lived when their love affair began.
‘Some audiences really clam up and just stare at me,’ says Maria Aparo, the actress who plays her. ‘And then there are some who create dialogue of their own in the scene.’
Apparently the sight of Marilyn Monroe has caused little stir in the neighborhood, although Aparo says she’s received some helpful history about the house from locals. She also finds that people want to hang out with Marilyn.
‘Some people want to stay and chitchat,’ she says. ‘So it becomes my job to send them on their way.'”
This mixed-media piece by artist Elizabeth Grammaticas – inspired, of course, by Marilyn’s birthday serenade to JFK – will feature in ‘Space Half Empty’, a new show at Brooklyn’s Fowler Arts Collective, opening this Friday, June 15.
This framed collage – including a badge from Norman Mailer‘s 1969 NYC mayoral bid, and a photo by Bert Stern, used in Mailer’s controversial book, Marilyn(1973) – is one of the author’s personal items being auctioned this spring, along with Mailer’s Brooklyn Heights apartment, following his death in 2007.