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June 24, 2019

Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller During the Photo Session in Richard Avedon's Studio in 1957

In June 1956, Miller left his first wife, Mary Slattery, whom he married in 1940, and married film star Marilyn Monroe. They had met in 1951, had a brief affair, and remained in contact since. Monroe had just turned 30 when they married; she never had a real family of her own and was eager to join the family of her new husband.

Away from Hollywood and the culture of celebrity, Monroe's life became more normal; she began cooking, keeping house and giving Miller more attention and affection than he had been used to. His children, aged twelve and nine, adored her and were reluctant to return to their mother when the weekend was over. As she was also fond of older people, she got along well with his parents, and the feeling was mutual.

Later that year, Miller was subpoenaed by the HUAC, and Monroe accompanied him. In her personal notes, she wrote about her worries during this period:
“I am so concerned about protecting Arthur. I love him—and he is the only person—human being I have ever known that I could love not only as a man to which I am attracted to practically out of my senses—but he is the only person—as another human being that I trust as much as myself...”
Miller began work on writing the screenplay for The Misfits in 1960, directed by John Huston and starring Monroe. But it was during the filming that Miller and Monroe's relationship hit difficulties, and he later said that the filming was one of the lowest points in his life.

Monroe was taking drugs to help her sleep and more drugs to help her wake up, which caused her to arrive on the set late and then have trouble remembering her lines. Huston was unaware that Miller and Monroe were having problems in their private life. He recalled later, “I was impertinent enough to say to Arthur that to allow her to take drugs of any kind was criminal and utterly irresponsible. Shortly after that I realized that she wouldn't listen to Arthur at all; he had no say over her actions.”

Shortly before the film's premiere in 1961, Miller and Monroe divorced after their five years of marriage. Nineteen months later, Monroe died of a likely drug overdose.

These pictures of Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller during the photo session in Richard Avedon's studio in New York on May 8, 1957.

(Photos © Richard Avedon)



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