The words of Arthur Miller are once again coming to life in the Hamptons with a production of Miller’s award-winning “All My Sons.” The play that contrasts profits against public safety is running in full production on the stage of the Drew Theater of East Hampton’s Guild Hall. The great American playwright and author of “Death of a Salesman,” always had a special place in his heart for the East End, mostly because it was in Amagansett that he spent two summers with Marilyn Monroe.
After Miller married Monroe on June 29, 1956, while then living in New York City, the couple rented a simple farmhouse for the 1957-58 summer seasons. The cottage was on the Stony Hill Farm, owned then by the Potter family. The cottage home at the time was about 1500 square feet, perched on a hill laden with old white oak trees, and had a pleasant view of the horse pastures below. In fact, today, the first home in that pleasant view now belongs to Alec Baldwin, (who is staring in “All My Sons”).
The Miller’s were often seen driving around the Hamptons in Marilyn’s black 1956 Thunderbird convertible, many times with Hugo, their Basset Hound. Arthur and Marilyn kept the hound both in the Hamptons and in the city. No one can say for sure if they also brought their pet parakeet “Butch” out for the summer, but most likely they did. When driving alone, Arthur Miller was conspicuous in his custom Jaguar, whether it was speeding to The Springs General Store or to East Hampton Village. The fact was Arthur enjoyed driving his Jaguar fast. However, getting back to his Hamlin Lane farmhouse after the rain had to be a bit testy on the still to this day unpaved Stony Hill Road.
Marilyn prepared for the movie “Some Like It Hot” while spending the summer with Miller in the Hamlin Lane cottage. While she was spending endless hours on the telephone there, famed photographer Sam Shaw took many snappy photos of Marilyn, one with the phone in her hand, looking every bit the married woman she was. In fact, the very small school desk table in those Shaw photos is still in the house, now owned by Joe and Lucy Kazickas. They were kind enough a few years back to give me a tour of their home. The original house, the way it was, is long gone, yet some original rooms remain.
The home today is more than three times the original 1500 square feet and the actual Monroe/Millers bedroom is now a guest bedroom. The Monroe/Miller bathtub still remains in the adjoining bathroom, and the old kitchen is more of a mudroom space with the original back door still there. It has been reported that Marilyn Monroe often said that the two years she spent living with Miller in Amagansett in that cottage, on Hamlin Lane, were the happiest years in her short life.
In a latter interview, Miller recalls that time as both “happy and painful.” Right up until his death on February 10, 2005, Miller, who had remarried, lived in Roxbury, Connecticut. However, he often visited his sister Joan Copeland and her son Eric, who to this day have a home on the ocean in Amagansett. In his later years, they would drive him around the Hamptons.
It was reported when Miller was very near death, he requested to be taken to see the property on Hamlin Lane, and driven around the area one last time. Perhaps he wanted to see the magnificent old white trees behind the house where Marilyn posed for Sam Shaw’s iconic photos, or to view the cottage’s old icehouse, where Miller set up his writing space back in 1956. Years later as I stood under those trees I could feel a most pleasant breeze coming up the hill. No doubt both Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe felt and remembered that wonderful breeze too.