Marilyn and Arthur’s Windmill Summer

Marilyn at her Amagansett summer home in 1957. Pjoto by Sam Shaw
Marilyn at her Amagansett summer home in 1957. Pjoto by Sam Shaw

Following reports that the ‘windmill house‘ on Deep Lane, Amagansett where Marilyn and Arthur Miller spent the summer in 1957 is up for sale, Tom Clavin (author of The DiMaggios) traces the history of their stay for 27east.com.

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“‘The place belonged to a former stage manager named Jeffrey Potter and his wife, Penny, both friends of Miller,’ according to Martin Gottfried in his biography of the playwright. ‘It was set on a one hundred-acre site that, like so much of the Hamptons, was once used for potato farming. To one side was a riding stable and on the other was the home of the artist Willem de Kooning. The farmhouse itself faced on winding, arboreal Town Lane, minutes from the painterly bay beaches at Louse Point and Barnes Landing, a few miles from the ocean dunes. Arthur and Marilyn would drive down to that Atlantic shore, rolling onto the beach at Napeague Lane in their new Jeep.’

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Several accounts contend that the summers in Amagansett that included the ‘windmill house’ were a happy period for the troubled actress. Photographs taken during that time by Sam Shaw, reportedly her favorite photographer, support the contentions. It had to help that some of her artistic ambitions had been realized by co-starring with Laurence Olivier in The Prince and the Showgirl, released in June 1957. A sad event for the Millers was that while in Amagansett that July, Monroe announced she was pregnant; however, following complications the ectopic pregnancy was ended. Also that summer, an EMS team from East Hampton had to rush to their rental to revive Monroe, who had overdosed on sleeping pills.

Despite career and personal concerns, Miller apparently enjoyed the time spent in Amagansett. In his autobiography, Timebends, he has idyllic recollections: ‘Our rented house in eastern Long Island faced broad green fields that made it hard to believe we were so near the ocean. Next door lived a painter and her husband who cherished their own privacy and thus defended ours. Now we could take easy breaths in a more normal rhythm of life.’

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Several years ago, this reporter interviewed Joan Copeland, Arthur Miller’s sister, for the Press. She first came to Amagansett in 1957 when she made summertime visits to her brother and Marilyn. ‘That was my introduction to the East Hampton area,’ Ms. Copeland recalled. ‘The house I bought there 30 years ago is very close to where Arthur and Marilyn lived.’

Special visits with her brother’s wife were on June 1, the birthday Ms. Copeland and Marilyn share. ‘My father had the same birthday too, so we would celebrate it together,’ said Ms. Copeland. ‘My mother did the cooking and my father, Marilyn and me did the eating. She was very alluring. She had a delicacy to her, a vulnerability unlike anyone I’d ever met. If you knew her well, it would not be too hard to get to her. The problem was if you didn’t like her, it was easy to hurt and damage her.'”

The DiMaggios

The DiMaggios: Three Brothers, a new book by Tom Clavin, explores the family dynamic of Joe, Dom, and Vince DiMaggio, all legends in the world of baseball. It’s available to order now in hardback, and published on May 14 via Kindle.

“Paul Simon famously asked: ‘Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?’ Clavin — author of bios on Roger Maris and Gil Hodges — also wonders about Joe’s older brother, Vince, and younger brother, Dominic. Vince, a two-time all-star, paved the way by going against their fisherman father’s wishes by ‘wasting time’ playing ball. He had difficulty making ends meet after baseball. Superstar Joe, who had difficulty adjusting to his ill-fated marriage to Marilyn Monroe, was famously private. Dom, a seven-time all-star center fielder for the Red Sox, became a successful businessman and family man, and was the best adjusted of the brothers — whom Sox teammate and friend Ted Williams always said belonged in the Hall of Fame.”