Arthur Miller on his divorce from Marilyn Monroe

“I took her at her own evaluation, which very few people did,” he says. “I thought she was a very serious girl, way back. And that she was struggling, I thought, because she was generally seen as a very light-headed, if not silly, human being. That’s because I loved her so I took that attitude towards her. And so, the best of her she thought was in my eye. Therefore, the hope she had was with me, at that time of her life.”

They wrote to each other over the next few years, throughout her brief tempestuous marriage to DiMaggio, and the disintegration of Arthur’s own relationship. By 1955, when she moved to New York City to study acting, they were in the midst of a full-blown affair.

‘Red scare’

At this time, Senator McCarthy’s witch hunt for communists was in full swing in the US. Thousands of people were being accused of being potential communist sympathisers or “un-American”, resulting in them being blacklisted from their careers. A few years earlier, Miller had written his play The Crucible, an emotional response to the “Red Scare” that was sweeping the country, and he was now being investigated by the FBI due to allegations of communist sympathies.

He was subpoenaed to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee, and was found guilty of contempt for refusing to reveal the names of people suspected of being communists. His friend Elia Kazan was also called to testify but unlike Miller, Kazan “named names”, provoking lifelong scorn from some of his contemporaries. When Elia Kazan received his honorary Oscar in 1999, some of the attendees, such as Kirk Douglas, resolutely refused to applaud.

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