Arthur Miller’s Unseen Archives

In an article for the New York Times, Jennifer Schluesser reports on the dispute over Arthur Miller’s unseen archives, and sheds new light on his reaction to Marilyn’s death – including his decision not to attend her funeral.

“More than 160 boxes of his manuscripts and other papers have been on deposit for decades at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, uncataloged and all but inaccessible to scholars, pending a formal sale. Another cache — including some 8,000 pages of private journals — remained at his home in rural Connecticut, unexplored by anyone outside the intimate Miller circle.

Now, the Ransom Center has bought the entire archive for $2.7 million, following a discreet tug-of-war with the Miller estate, which tried to place the papers at Yale University despite the playwright’s apparent wishes that they rest in Texas.

‘Arthur wrote about everything in his journals,’ said Julia Bolus, Miller’s longtime assistant and director of the Arthur Miller Trust, who is coediting a volume of selections. ‘They were the place where all the elements of his life came together.’

Among the extensive unpublished material in the archive is an essay Miller began on Aug. 8, 1962, the day of the funeral of Marilyn Monroe, his second wife. ‘Instead of jetting to the funeral to get my picture taken I decided to stay home and let the public mourners finish the mockery,’ Miller wrote. ‘Not that everyone there will be false, but enough. Most of them there destroyed her, ladies and gentleman. She was destroyed by many things and some of those things are you and some of those things are destroying you. Destroying you now. I love as you stand there weeping and gawking, glad that it’s not you going into the earth, glad that it’s this lovely girl who at last you killed.’

Those journals are closed to researchers until after publication of that volume, by Penguin Press.

An inventory of the archive notes journal entries relating to Monroe. But it does not list any personal correspondence between her and Miller, the survival of which has been the subject of speculation over the years.

In a 2002 article in Talk Magazine, Andreas Brown, the dealer who arranged the earlier deposits to the Ransom Center, described coming across an odd bundle, which Miller told him held nearly 100 letters from Monroe. ‘It was all sealed and tied-up,’ Mr. Brown, who is now retired, recalled in a recent interview.

Miller’s memoir, Timebends, refers to correspondence with Monroe, and one of his passionate love letters to her fetched $43,750 at auction in Beverly Hills in 2014. ‘It was a really over-the-top Tom Cruise, jump-on-the-couch-kind of letter,’ Christopher Bigsby said.

But Mr. Bigsby is skeptical that a secret motherlode survives. ‘When I asked, he said he had no more than 4 or 5 of her letters,’ he said of Miller.”


Marilyn: An Illustrated History

Forty Illustrated History

Marilyn: An Illustrated History is a new, hardback book by Sandra Forty, 256 pages long and published by Taj Books. Fraser Penney, friend of this blog, notes a few bloopers:

“Not sure how she managed to figure out Marilyn’s second husband was Arthur Miller and that he organized her funeral? There’s a few glaring mistakes including her being wrongly identified in a picture from the film Green Grass Of Wyoming. A few of the pictures are pixelated but the majority are nicely reproduced and there’s some I don’t think I have seen in a book before. If you can forgive the errors, it’s a lovely big book covering MM’s life and career with a nice selection of full page photos.”

Fraser has kindly shared some sample pages with us:

Forty 1

Forty 2

The book gets a 3 star rating from AimeeL, a customer on

“The book is filled with dozens and dozens of photos which look like the author/editor simply found them online and printed them out… a very nice introduction for new Marilyn Monroe fans, but if you’re already a huge fan and have been for a while, you’ll find nothing new…”

The Pallbearer’s Tale

Allan Abbott, one of the pallbearers at Marilyn’s funeral, has spoken to the Phoenix New Times.

“I asked Abbott what he recalled of Monroe’s one-time husband Joe DiMaggio, who arranged for the funeral. Abbott told me of how he had brought his wife to the chapel the day before the funeral, where he hoped to sneak her in after the viewing was supposed to end at 9 p.m.

But DiMaggio lingered long after the viewing was scheduled to be over.

‘We could see him in the chapel with his very small entourage, all guys,’ Abbott remembered. ‘He would stand and look at her for a long time, then he would walk out into the cemetery and start crying. Then he’d compose himself and walk back in and stand at the casket, and look at her again.'”

Nick Ray’s Long Goodbye

 The final extract from Patrick McGilligan’s Nicholas Ray: The Glorious Failure of an American Director concerns Ray’s reaction to Marilyn’s death.

Ray was filming 55 Days at Peking in Spain when he heard the news. (The magazine cover above shows a rather gossipy Confidential article about Marilyn and Ray from 1956, available to read at Everlasting Star.)

“The first week of August brought the bulletin that Ray’s old flame Marilyn Monroe had been found dead in the bedroom of her Brentwood home. More than Humphrey Bogart’s death, Monroe’s sudden passing, at thirty-six, seemed a personal augury to Ray. He had loved the blond sex symbol, for her obvious qualities but all the more for her elusiveness; now he would never have the chance to direct her in a motion picture. Monroe’s death left Ray ‘deeply shocked and grieved,’ according to news accounts, but the director could not leave the high-pressure filming in Spain and had to content himself with sending a floral display to her funeral.”

In later years, Ray criticised John Huston’s direction of The Misfits:

“In interviews, Ray himself tended to denigrate certain filmmakers by name. Though, for example, he praised Marilyn Monroe’s last picture, ‘The Misfits’, directed by John Huston, Ray said it was ‘not as good as The Lusty Men,’ his rodeo film.”

Famous Eulogies: Lee Strasberg on Marilyn

Photo by Allan Grant, 1962

Lee Strasberg’s tribute to Marilyn, read at her funeral, is featured at Flavorwire in a meme on famous eulogies, posted to mark Halloween. You can read the full text here.

‘Prestigious acting teacher and director of the Actors Studio, Lee Strasberg, gave screen icon Marilyn Monroe’s eulogy in 1962. Strasberg helped train the legendary star and noted, “The dream of her talent, which she had nurtured as a child, was not a mirage.” Norma Jean had a troubled childhood — spending most of it in foster homes — but her young modeling career eventually led to screen stardom, which was sadly cut short after her suicide. As Strasberg points out, “In her own lifetime she created a myth of what a poor girl from a deprived background could attain.” ‘

Lee Strasberg’s Eulogy for Marilyn

George Barris, 1962

“In her own lifetime she created a myth of what a poor girl from a deprived background could attain. For the entire world she became a symbol of the eternal feminine.

But I have no words to describe the myth and the legend. I did not know this Marilyn Monroe. We gathered here today, knew only Marilyn – a warm human being, impulsive and shy, sensitive and in fear of rejection, yet ever avid for life and reaching out for fulfillment. I will not insult the privacy of your memory of her – a privacy she sought and treasured – by trying to describe her whom you knew to you who knew her. In our memories of her she remains alive, not only a shadow on the screen or a glamorous personality.

For us Marilyn was a devoted and loyal friend, a colleague constantly reaching for perfection. We shared her pain and difficulties and some of her joys. She was a member of our family. It is difficult to accept the fact that her zest for life has been ended by this dreadful accident.

Despite the heights and brilliance she attained on the screen, she was planning for the future; she was looking forward to participating in the many exciting things which she planned. In her eyes and in mine her career was just beginning.

The dream of her talent, which she had nurtured as a child, was not a mirage. When she first came to me I was amazed at the startling sensitivity which she possessed and which had remained fresh and undimmed, struggling to express itself despite the life to which she had been subjected.

Others were as physically beautiful as she was, but there was obviously something more in her, something that people saw and recognized in her performances and with which they identified. She had a luminous quality – a combination of wistfulness, radiance, yearning – to set her apart and yet make everyone wish to be a part of it, to share in the childish naïveté which was so shy and yet so vibrant.

This quality was even more evident when she was in the stage. I am truly sorry that the public who loved her did not have the opportunity to see her as we did, in many of the roles that foreshadowed what she would have become. Without a doubt she would have been one of the really great actresses of the stage.

Now it is at an end. I hope her death will stir sympathy and understanding for a sensitive artist and a woman who brought joy and pleasure to the world.

I cannot say goodbye. Marilyn never liked goodbyes, but in the peculiar way she had of turning things around so that they faced reality – I will say au revoir. For the country to which she has gone, we must all someday visit.”

Lee Strasberg, 1962