As the crowd of reporters gathered in anticipation, a striking woman in a buttoned blouse calmly stroked her styled blond curls and walked over to the microphones.
It was June 29, 1956, and early spring when beloved Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller, her fiancé and famous American playwright, provided the press at Miller’s rural ranch in Roxbury, Connecticut, New York.
Just hours after the crowd dispersed, the unlikely couple snuck away from public view and quietly married. This month marks 66 years since that day.
Monroe and Miller had a few chance encounters before their wedding day. They met in 1950 on the set of the then 24-year-old Californian actress’s film As Young As You Feel.
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American playwright Arthur Miller and Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe at a press conference in June 1956, hours before their wedding. (YouTube)
Miller, then 35, first met Monroe in tears, distraught over the death of Johnny Hyde, her agent, and ardent admirer. Hyde died of a heart attack at age 55.
Despite the sadness, the couple left quite an impression on each other.
“Meet a man tonight… It was, bam! It was like hitting a tree,” she wrote in her diary.
“You know, like a cool drink when you’ve had a fever.”
Miller recalled their first meeting in his autobiography, Timebends.
“As we shook hands,” he wrote, “the shock of her body’s movement rushed through me.”
The couple would meet again a few days later at a party.
They chatted for hours, and Miller accepted Monroe’s desire to become a serious actress. He told her she could go to Broadway and suggested she take acting lessons.
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“Meet a man tonight… It was, bam! It was like hitting a tree,” Monroe wrote of her first meeting with Miller. (Getty)
But with the couple married to other people, the timing of a union was not meant to be.
Miller was married to his high school sweetheart, Mary Slattery, and Monroe had a difficult relationship with his second husband and baseball legend Joe DiMaggio.
Monroe and DiMaggio divorced in 1954 after only months of marriage.
Monroe and Miller kept in touch through letters and phone calls. They would not see each other for four years.
Miller was intensely romantic, borderline painfully sad, with his words to her.
“I think less furious with jealousy once we’ve built a life together. It’s just that I believe I really should die if I ever lose you,” one of his letters reads.
“It’s as if we were born the same morning when there was no other life on this earth. Love, art.”
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The actress signed an autograph for a fan in 1952. (Bettmann archive)
In 1955, the couple began dating secretly after Miller learned that Monroe had moved to his hometown of New York City for work. To the outside world, they were just friends.
In February 1956, the actress officially changed her name from Norma Jeane Mortenson to Marilyn Monroe. Monroe wished her married name was Monroe-Miller.
Not long after, Miller, who was as famous as Monroe for his Pulitzer Prize-winning play Death of a Salesman, would finalize his divorce from his first wife.
The public wouldn’t be informed of their impending union until June when Miller surprisingly announced to the House Un-American Activities Committee that he and the Some Like It Hot star would soon be married.
The playwright faced the committee over questions about his political affiliations. Many believed that his acclaimed 1953 play The Crucible and his Salem witch trials drew parallels to the Communist witch hunts of the 1950s.
In the media, the couple was affectionately known as the Hourglass and the Egghead, with the nickname intensifying as their wedding day approached.
Miller once wrote to Monroe, “It’s just that I believe I really must die if I ever lose you.” (Fairfax media)
On June 28, 1956, Miller’s local newspaper, the Roxbury Connecticut, ran an article about the impending wedding with the unsentimental headline “Resident will marry Miss Monroe of Hollywood.”
Despite the lack of creativity or sense, the story caused chaos for the couple and cost the life of Mara Scherbatoff, the New York bureau chief for Paris-Match.
Scherbatoff was killed after the car she was driving crashed into a tree while chasing the car Miller and Monroe were going.
The tragedy prompted the famous couple to hold a press conference at Miller’s ranch.
As Miller, then 40, addressed the media, the actress, then 30, stood by his side. The couple held hands.
Hours later, the New York Times ran the latest news that “Marilyn Monroe, Arthur Miller married in White Plains Court”.
The couple was married at the Westchester County Courthouse by a city judge.
“Miss Monroe was wearing a sweater and skirt and no hat. Mr. Miller was wearing a blue suit and white shirt but no tie,” the report said.
The couple divorced after four years of marriage. (MONKEY)
Monroe was given away by her acting teacher Lee Strasberg. The couple’s wedding rings read ‘Now is forever’.
The newlyweds would leave the courthouse in a sports car and flee to London a few weeks later, where Monroe would film The Prince and the Showgirl.
Unfortunately, the marriage would not last. Their relationship soured after Monroe reportedly discovered in Miller’s notebook that he had doubts about her celebrity, which he said could jeopardize his creativity.
A series of miscarriages, three in several years, is also said to have contributed to the pair’s unfortunate state.
Monroe is also said to have told friends that Miller wrote: “The only one I will ever love is my daughter”.
On November 12, 1960, the Times ran the news that the couple had separated after four years of marriage and were planning to divorce.
They had just completed the movie The Misfits together, starring Monroe in the screenplay Miller had written.
Marilyn Monroe in 1953. (The LIFE Picture Collection via)
In August 1962, nearly two years after she and Miller divorced, Monroe was found dead at Brentwood’s California home. she was 36.
The playwright remarried in February 1962 to Austrian photographer Inge Morath. He died of congestive heart failure in 2005. He was 89.
In a documentary about the late playwright, released in 2021, Miller spoke about his love for Monroe and her vulnerability.
“This pretense of being free was just a disguise. She was, in a way, the most oppressed person imaginable,” he says.
“She had been kicked as a child; she had been abused as a child. She had been abandoned, abandoned. She was a very brave person.”
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