Lot 154

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Monroe Marilyn

Arthur Miller to Marilyn Monroe in Unpublished Vintage Copy Letters


“In effect, your mind seems to be saying, ‘I cannot speak and be understood; I am surrounded with deaf figures; everyone hears only what he wants to hear, but the desperation of my cry nobody really hears.’”


“You are a battlefield now.”


ARTHUR MILLER, Copies of three Typed Letters Signed, to MARILYN MONROE, June-September 1956.  10 pp., 8.5" x 11".  Expected folds, stapled in upper left corner; corner fold and small tear to first letter, not affecting text. Very good.  To maintain the value of these unpublished letters, we have purposefully obfuscated the images.  


This collection of copies of three unpublished letters by playwright Arthur Miller, written shortly before and after his marriage to Marilyn Monroe, reveals much about their relationship, her anxieties, his struggles with “authority,” and her thoughts of death. Those thoughts and Miller’s analysis of them eerily foreshadow her suicide fewer than six years later.



-          Arthur Miller to Marilyn Monroe, June 2, 1956

“It is ten to eight here, the sun is slowly dropping, the radio is playing ‘Let’s Fall in Love,’ in a corney Dorsey brothers arrangement, and I have just walked over to my wall and kissed your lips that kiss the glass. How in love I am!... I adore you, I am proud of you, I idolize you, I love your every lunacy. Only love me. I will make you so happy you will not really believe it is possible. I want to be your lover and your husband and the papa of your new family and our home.”


“ALL of these Milton troubles and Josh troubles and all that crap is nonsense that will fade off as soon as I can take charge. You will simply have a business relationship with these people. But why must Henry hang around so much? I do worry that the newspaper idiots will start something about him and you if by any chance we have to postpone the marriage after you leave, maybe doing it in London or when you return.”


The “Milton” mentioned here was photographer and producer Milton H. Greene (1922-1985), with whom Monroe formed Marilyn Monroe Productions in December 1954. Greene produced Bus Stop, which Monroe filmed early in 1956. “Josh” was likely Joshua Logan (1908-1988), who directed Monroe in Bus Stop. “Henry” was probably Henry Rosenfeld (1911-1986), a New York dress manufacturer. Rosenfeld allegedly had a brief affair with Monroe, proposed to her, and provided small sums for Marilyn Monroe Productions.



                                                                  “Papa Art (Drunk)”


“I realize now, Dreadful, that I never really understood what it was to love someone. I have loved, but never so absolutely and without reservation.”


“It is almost as though you were always my wife and I your husband, but we didn’t know it, it wasn’t announced to us by destiny; both of us had first to nearly burn in the fire of life before the mists in our minds could be seared off and vision could shine forth, clear and sparkling.”


“I have moved further into the play. Mists are slowly clearing. I will be a writer again soon. Believe in me. I am stronger than ever in my life. My soul is smiling. I love you.


Miller was likely working on a revision of his one-act verse play A View from the Bridge, which had opened on Broadway on September 29, 1955. The two-act revised version premiered in London’s West End on October 11, 1956.



-          Arthur Miller to Marilyn Monroe, September 21, 1956

“I am going to do a risky thing. I am going to try to tell you as precisely as I know how what has been going on in me—but beyond the point where my defenses stand.... One of the feelings in me is jealousy.... I only realize now that certain things began to press in on me, some of them very subtle, until the point has come where I must face them for both our sakes so that they may be understood and be deprived of their effect on me.”


“You know that I had always been shy of personal publicity—I wanted to be known only for my plays. Not because of modesty but because it always irritated me to see any part of my personal life in print—and this was always true.”


“to me the act of explaining my feelings under any kind of pressure implies in itself that I have done something ‘wrong’ which needs explaining. Now in previous years I would simply reply with a stiffening of my neck, saying in effect, ‘Think anything you want, I am not going to explain anything.’ And it was that reaction which operated during my congressional testimony, and it irritated some of the congressmen who thought me arrogant.”


“‘Authority,’ as you well know, has no weight to the mind unless it has the power to condemn one as being ‘wrong’ or stained with ‘evil,’ or at least not ‘right.’ As I sat before the UnAmerican Committee, for instance, I had to consciously keep telling myself that I was right, I was right, but at the same time I knew perfectly well that to the degree I was answering them at all I was conceding their superior rightness. If I had failed to make that concession, absolutely and wholely, I would have—(in conformity with my lifelong code)—remained completely silent, and as a matter of fact I had often considered that if they ever called me I would not even answer to the question as to my name and address. (Remember Giles Corey in Crucible who completely refused to answer anything at all?)”


On June 21, 1956, Arthur Miller testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. The committee subpoenaed Miller after he sought to renew his passport, so he could travel to London with Marilyn Monroe, who would begin filming The Prince and the Showgirl there and to Brussels for the opening of his new play The Crucible. Eight days after he testified, he married Monroe in White Plains, New York.


Giles Corey (1611-1692) was both a historical figure accused of witchcraft during the Salem witch trials, and a main character in Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible. Corey refused to plead or testify, and the court had him pressed to death.


“Therefore, the act of answering questions—to my mind—carries with it the act of subjecting myself to a superior force, and leaves me in an imagined state of passivity and weakness and even ‘in the wrong.’”


“Only yesterday as I walked about in London I realized how suspicious I have become of people, and how I even hate them for noticing me. Quite as though I had to explain myself to them!”


“The main thing I saw was that it had all worked to make me unconsciously jealous of you and fearful that in fact I was not ‘big enough’ for you, and could not satisfy you either sexually or as a friend and a man. To say that I do not satisfy you implies that someone else could. In turn, I am therefore in danger of being ‘replaced.’ The final development, therefore, is withdrawal to one degree or another, and the deadening by degrees of my confidence in myself in relation to you.”


“I had already weakened myself before you got sick so that when I was needed I had to be found wanting. For I had faced all the ‘authorities’ of my life in a short space of weeks before we left home, and while I had apparently come out in one piece, the fact is that the very act of having to explain to them, however it was disguised, had left me lowered in my own eyes. So that when you got into the Pinewood pressure, I was already convinced, unconsciously, that I was not capable of being the source, the pure, deep, and wholely worthy source of your confidence and renewed self-assurance.”


“So that at the very moment when you needed my assurance, at the very moment when I could have clinched our marriage forever, I turned inward and you were left doubly alone—doubly, because for the first time in your life, just previously in California, you had truly been together with someone. And my sweetheart, you were together with me.... I would not have failed you excepting that I carried into our marriage what I had to carry, namely, my whole previous life and its most powerful conflict, which is my conflict as to where authority really lies.”


“I know that I would not be ‘weary’ because you have been ill, but only because I have been grappling for my own will within myself. And my will, my ‘self,’ is not expressed in jealousy, in resentment, in cruel impatience, in coldness and withdrawal. Those are not ‘me’ and I know it, because I am not a negative man I am a lover. And you are my love. I sit here and it is so clear, suddenly, that I need not fight any authority because there is none but my own feelings for you. I had begun to give away, and to sense that the ‘world’ was taking away my dominion over myself. But no force exists anywhere that can do that. Only I can do it by not understanding my real nature. Now you will see, Pussy, now you will come to me and slowly, or maybe quicker than you imagine is possible., we will begin to laugh again, and ‘danger’—which has been so much with us, will pass away.

                                                                  “Your loving Pa




-          Arthur Miller to Marilyn Monroe, undated, ca. September, 1956

“The whole Bus Stop reception is a personal triumph for you of a magnitude which I don’t think you yet realize. You have done what you set out to do. You are an actress and an artist—which I always knew you were, but now ‘reality’ knows it too—which is to say, the critics, the public and Bloomgardens and anybody else who matters or doesn’t matter.”


20th Century Fox released Bus Stop on August 31, 1956, and Monroe held press conferences both in Los Angeles and at the Savoy Hotel in London to promote it. Kermit Bloomgarden (1904-1976) was a theatrical producer who produced Broadway plays including Miller’s Death of a Salesman (1949) and A View from the Bridge (1955).


“And about dying, Pussy. I think a few of your dreams and certainly some of your waking feelings are touched with death and dying and I know a little about that which I’d like to tell you. There is a wish to die and a fear of dying.... In you, death is not only an escape, it is at the same time a thrust against something. In effect, your mind seems to be saying, ‘I cannot speak and be understood; I am surrounded with deaf figures; everyone hears only what he wants to hear, but the desperation of my cry nobody really hears.’ And so to die is to put away further struggle against the deafness of others.”


“But isn’t it also a kind of protest against that deafness? Aren’t you also saying, in effect, ‘If I die, then they will know me, they will know the depth of my feeling, I will have made my reality clear.’ In some way I feel at times that dying means to you the registering of your self. That in death you would both be blaming others to a degree; and proving how worthless you really are; but also proving how worthy you are too.”


“I think that one of the biggest frustrations you have is me, my inability to see through everything you feel to your need to be loved. Here you are, crying out for me, and I get angry with you and resentful and even frightened, and weary.”


“What can be extracted from such a thought-process that will trick death and dying? The fact that at bottom it is not hatred, and not even bitterness in you that is wishing for the end, but love and the need for love. Well, I love you, Poo. And you love me. So already there is something standing between you and real death and dying.”


“I am part boy. You know that. And that part has very fragile defenses. So that while the older part of me may ‘see’ the boy in my head is moved one way or the other by what seems to him to be unreasonable, or ‘rejecting,’ or too demanding. To that ‘boy’ you are part mother, and when his imperious emotional demands are not immediately met he gets sullen, and his back stiffens, and he says,--as I said thirty-four years ago, ‘All right, I don’t need you anymore.’ But he does need you always, and the man who is his constant companion hates him then, hates the boy for his inability to grow up and act according to the man’s understanding.”


“The truth is, Fish, that that ‘boy’ is no sillier than the little girl inside you who is also defenseless. And there are times when I am quite fully aware, intellectually that we are both behaving toward each other like children. But then, if the child in both of us were not engaged and in action we would not be in love with one another.”


“You have no right to die because you are so beautiful and because you are the soul of life, but also because I love you and when you are loved—even as stupidly as I love you sometimes, you are attached to life, and have a right to life, and you are identified and real thereby.”


“I’ve told you often that I feel sometimes that the whole business of trying to write and put on plays and to move an audience isn’t worth the effort. You know why that comes on me? Partly because I don’t really believe that others can truly enter into the depths of my own feeling; because I believe in some part of me that the inner room of my self is not really capable of being entered by an audience—by anyone. To the degree that it is hermetically sealed, therefore, anything I write is a lie, because the ‘whole’ truth must include what is in that sealed chamber. I believe, though, that without that sense of a sealed chamber I would not be an artist. I write in order to open up its contents, and at the same time to conceal them and transform them.”


“the nest of terrors inside you, which you defended so amazingly all these years and kept relatively quiet,—those terrors know that their time has come. They must devour your whole being, or be slain—by me, by your awakening to their falseness, and by Hohenberg’s guidance toward their dead roots. You are a battlefield now. It would be much, much worse—it would be disastrous, if you could have kept them all sealed. You would have been amiable, sociable, and half alive. Your agony is thus a promise and I have no doubt of the outcome. Partly because I love you, and partly because in no human being was there ever such a lust for living.

                                                                  “Your dumb husband   Art”


Dr. Margaret Hohenberg (1898-1992) was Marilyn Monroe’s Hungarian psychoanalyst from 1955 through early 1957. Hohenberg flew to England in the autumn of 1956 to rescue a depressive Monroe on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl.


Historical Background

Playwright Arthur Miller and movie star and sex symbol Marilyn Monroe wed in a civil ceremony in White Plains, New York, on June 29, 1956. She soon converted to Judaism to make herself closer to Miller’s family. In August, she began filming Marilyn Monroe Productions’ first independent effort, The Prince and the Showgirl, at Pinewood Studios outside of London, England. The movie was based on a play that had featured Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. Olivier reprised his role and agreed to direct and co-produce the film.


Conflicts between Olivier and Monroe complicated the filming. She found him patronizing and condescending. He found her uncooperative and unreliable in keeping to production schedules. Her drug use escalated during the filming, and she may have become pregnant and miscarried as well. Despite the problems, they completed the filming by the end of the year, and it was released in June 1957 to mixed reviews and was generally unpopular with American audiences.


When she returned to the United States, Monroe took eighteen months away from acting to focus on married life. Miller and Monroe had an apartment in Manhattan, and a farmhouse in Roxbury, Connecticut. She had an ectopic pregnancy in 1957 and suffered a miscarriage in 1958.



Arthur Miller (1915-2005) was born in Harlem in New York City into a Jewish family of Polish descent. His father was a prosperous clothing manufacturer until the Wall Street Crash destroyed the family’s assets. Miller graduated from the University of Michigan in 1938 and joined the New Deal Federal Theatre Project before Congress closed it the following year. In 1940, he married Mary Grace Slattery, with whom he had two children. After the failure of his first play, he had a 1947 success on Broadway with All My Sons, for which he won his first Tony Award. He wrote Death of a Salesman in 1948, and it premiered on Broadway in 1949. It was a commercial success and won another Tony Award, the New York Drama Circle Critics’ Award, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the first play to win all three of these major awards. In 1953, he released The Crucible, a play based on the Salem witch trials of 1692-93 that served as an allegory for the investigations of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). In June 1956, he testified before HUAC; when he refused to name friends who had participated in similar activities in the 1930s and 1940s, a judge found Miller guilty of contempt of Congress for which he was fined, given a prison sentence, and blacklisted, though his conviction was overturned in 1958. Later that same month, Miller married Marilyn Monroe, whom he had met in 1951. In 1960, Miller wrote the screenplay for The Misfits, which would star Monroe and be directed by John Huston. Shortly after the film’s premiere in 1961, Miller and Monroe divorced. In 1962, Miller married photographer Inge Morath (1923-2002), with whom he had two children. In 1964, he produced After the Fall, a play that offered a deeply personal view of his experiences during his marriage to Marilyn Monroe, who had since died of a drug overdose. He continued to write, direct, and produce plays and screenplays throughout the next three decades. He published his autobiography Timebends in 1987, which includes details about his experiences with Monroe. He also wrote a screenplay for a 1996 film version of The Crucible, staring his son-in-law Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder.



Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) was born Norma Jeane Mortenson in Los Angeles, California, and was raised largely in foster homes and orphanages. At age 16, she married 21-year-old James Dougherty in June 1942. He enlisted in the Merchant Marine in 1943 and was shipped to the Pacific in 1944. While he was away, Monroe began a modeling career in 1944 and an acting career in 1946, for which she selected the stage name “Marilyn Monroe.” They divorced in 1946. Monroe received a contract from 20th Century Fox in August 1946 but had only two small parts in films before the studio chose not to renew her contract in August 1947. In 1948, she had a brief contract with Columbia Pictures and starred in one low-budget, unsuccessful musical. Her small roles in All About Eve and The Asphalt Jungle drew some critical attention, and her William Morris Agency representative Johnny Hyde negotiated a seven-year contract with 20th Century Fox. She soon became a top-billed actress, largely in comic roles, and a sex symbol. She also developed a reputation for being difficult on film sets, and she began to use drugs and alcohol to alleviate her anxieties. In a conflict over the terms of her contract, the studio suspended her early in 1954. Ten days later, she married baseball star Joe DiMaggio (1914-1999). She reached a settlement with the studio and received a promise of a bonus and a starring role in The Seven Year Itch. Filming for the comedy based on a Broadway play including filming over a subway grate in Manhattan that blew up her dress. The publicity stunt made her an international star but ended her nine-month marriage to DiMaggio, who was furious about it. Their divorce was finalized in October 1955, by which time she was dating Arthur Miller, who had separated from his wife. She reached a new agreement with 20th Century Fox for a seven-year contract. In June 1956, she married Arthur Miller and soon converted to Judaism. After several years of marriage, she obtained a divorce in Mexico in January 1961. Her health problems with endometriosis and gallstones worsened, as did her drug use. On August 4, 1962, she committed suicide from a drug overdose. Although many of her film roles cast her as a “dumb blonde,” she received critical acclaim for her roles in The Seven Year Itch (1954), Bus Stop (1956), and Some Like It Hot (1959).



This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.



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