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Among the extensive unpublished material in the archive is an essay Miller began on Aug. 8, 1962, the day of the funeral of Marilyn Monroe, his second wife.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.”

 

A Girl, Her Room … and Marilyn

‘Christilla, Rabieh Lebanon, 2010’

This 2010 photograph – showing a Douglas Kirkland canvas of Marilyn on a Lebanese teenager’s bedroom wall – is part of In Her Image, a retrospective for photographer Rania Matar, at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas until June, as Natalie Gempel reports for Paper City.

“The show combines three portfolios of the photographer’s work, all produced in the United States and the Middle East … A Girl & Her Room depicts teenage girls from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds in the personal world of their bedrooms … A girl in Lebanon perches on an armchair beneath a massive Marilyn Monroe poster, a pink bra hanging on the doorknob beside her … The photographs transcend cultural differences and societal labels to show girls as they want to be shown. And, even in 2018, that’s not as common as you’d think.”

Inner Marilyn at the Jung Center

The Jung Center in Houston, Texas is a non-profit educational institute, named after Carl Jung and dedicated to the arts, psychology and spirituality. A new exhibition, ‘The Inner Marilyn‘, has just opened and will be on display until June 2.

The items featured are from the collection of Marie Taylor Bosarge, who produced and starred in the 2011 musical, Babydoll Reflects, and is president of the Music Doing Good foundation.

Associated events include ‘The Wounded Feminine’, a lecture and workshop led by psychoanalyst Sharon Martin, and a musical celebration of Marilyn’s life. This compassionate, humane approach sounds very promising.

However, I do have a few concerns – firstly, a chair said to be from Marilyn’s home comes with a letter of authentication by Robert Slatzer, who many consider a fraud (see here.) The chair may well be Marilyn’s, but I think a second opinion is needed.

Also, in an interview with the Houston Chronicle, the Jung Center’s Jerry Ruhl seems to imply that Marilyn may have had up to 13 abortions. This is an uncorroborated rumour propagated by Norman Mailer in his ‘factoid’ biography, Marilyn (1973.) In fact, Marilyn suffered from endometriosis which made her unable to carry pregnancies to term.

“There is no proof of it through medical records and stuff like that though, because abortions were illegal and so no records would have been kept,” Danamo notes on the long-standing MM Pages website. “However, to have that many ‘back-alley’ abortions would have surely messed Marilyn up gynecologically, but her autopsy report doesn’t report any abnormalities of this nature.”

Dallas Couple Remember Marilyn

Writing for Dallas News, Nancy Churmin investigated Marilyn’s possible connections with the city.

“When seeking as I always do for a Texas connection, I received a slender link courtesy of Gregory Schreiner, Marilyn Monroe expert and the President and founding member of the longest running Monroe fan club in existence today, Marilyn Remembered:  ‘On January 20th, 1961, en route to Juarez, Mexico, to obtain her divorce from Arthur Miller, Marilyn had a two-hour layover at the Dallas Love Field Airport. Supposedly, Marilyn sat alone in an airport cocktail lounge, watching John F. Kennedy’s presidential inauguration.’

It turns out, however, I found a stronger Dallas link: my husband’s thoroughly Texan late parents met her in person when my father-in-law took the family to a business convention in Los Angeles in 1959. While Grandma Vaudie minded the kids in their hotel room, H.L. and Gene Granberry ran into a host of stars leaving the ballroom: Jayne Mansfield, who spent years in the Park Cities, Gina Lollobrigida, Dick Powell and his wife June Allyson, Chuck Connors and Marilyn Monroe.

H.L., being H.L., managed to get a laugh out of Gina Lollobrigida. When she told him she was working on a film called Go Naked in the World (that would be released in 1961), he responded, ‘I would LOVE to!’. And everyone was nice to them. But the one they were most impressed with was Marilyn Monroe. It wasn’t just her looks, although my mother-in-law used to say she had the most translucent, beautiful skin and natural beauty of any one she had ever seen.

‘The word they kept using was gracious,’ my husband recalled. ‘The thing that struck my mother was that she was very warm, very friendly, very unpretentious, down to earth and a little sad. She made the most lasting impression of anyone they met that day. They had a feeling she related more to them, to normal people, than she did to the Hollywood crowd.’

The people’s star. Maybe that is why. to this day, we still can’t let her go.”