On February 10, 1949, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman opened at the Morosco Theatre in New York to overwhelming acclaim. This month, to mark the play's 50th anniversary, a new Broadway production debuts, and Arthur Miller, now 83, reveals here that his sense of life's tragic ironies is still very much intact.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? A good night's sleep.
What is your greatest fear? Losing memory.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Lincoln.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Waning curiosity.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
What is your greatest extravagance? New York restaurants.
What is your favorite journey?
Angkor Wat to Thailand, to escape Nixon-Kissinger bombing.
On what occasion do you lie?
When pressed to reveal family matters; also when I forget to show up as agreed.
Which living person do you most despise?
I don't think I despise, but if I did, Jerry Falwell would come close.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I. Tremendous. Stupid. Idiot. Dream.
What is your greatest regret?
Not knowing at 30 what I knew about women at 60.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Ingeborg Morath. The idea of tragedy.
When and where were you happiest?
At home, when learning that the dying Eugene O'Neill said that Death of a Salesman was a great work.
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
That I can still muster up some hope for humans.
What is your most treasured possession?
The cherry dining table I made a long time ago.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Where would you like to live?
Connecticut and New York, as I do.
What is your favorite occupation?
Writing a funny line.
What is your most marked characteristic?
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Loyalty to his craft.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
A warm welcome.
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
The hero of Catch‑22 ‑Captain John Yossarian.
Who are your heroes in real life?
There are none in real life except a few firefighters, perhaps.
How would you like to die?
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
A tree, maybe a locust.
If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
A poet, naturally. Like Shakespeare, maybe.
What is your motto?
"Don't rush, it'll wait. Meanwhile, hurry!"