WHEN: June 29th and July 1st, 1956
WHERE: Westchester County Courthouse and the private home of agent Kay Brown, Katonah, NY
WHAT HAPPENED: Marilyn Monroe was the blonde bombshell, rumoured president wooer and pop culture icon who dreamt of being taken seriously as an actress. Arthur Miller was the Pulitzer prize-winning American playwright whose controversial works such as The Crucible and Death of A Salesman would see him famously blacklisted and tried for communist ties. After meeting at a party, the two embarked on a brief love affair (Miller was still married), kept in touch as friends and then wed five years later once Miller’s divorce was finalised.
The pairing of the Hollywood star with the it-boy of the New York intelligentsia led to a media frenzy and the unlikely couple were nicknamed by the press as ‘the hour glass and the egg head’. Such was the furore, that on the day of the wedding, a news reporter was killed in a car accident chasing after the stars. The couple wed twice, first in a courthouse and then with a Jewish ceremony two days later at the home of Miller’s agent in a quiet New York suburb.
THE GUESTS: The first civil ceremony had just two witnesses, the second just a small party of 25. Not having any real family of her own, Monroe was given away by her acting coach.
THE BRIDE WORE: A simple pencil skirt, shirt and gloves for the courthouse, followed by a light muslin Norman Norell gown for the second ceremony. Miller gave his bride a ring he borrowed off his mother for the ceremony and then three days later brought her a new one, inscribed ‘A to M, June 1956. Now is forever’.
HAPPILY EVER AFTER? The marriage couldn’t quite weather the media storm that hit it and although it was their differences that first drew them to one another, it would later drive them apart. Monroe was reportedly devastated when she discovered a diary entry laid carelessly out by Miller stating his ‘disappointment’ in her as a wife. The tragic star, who was desperate to start a family, also suffered a number of miscarriages. After five years together, the couple divorced and Miller soon remarried. Monroe died a year later of a barbiturate overdose and Miller discovered that his former wife had kept every letter he’d ever sent her. When asked about her troubled life in the media glare, Miller would later say Monroe was “a poet on a street corner trying to recite to a crowd pulling at her clothes.”
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