A really un-American activity exposed

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The Independent Online

I have received many letters in appreciation of the late Arthur Miller, the great American playwright, and would like to publish some of them today.

From Sir George "Gubby" Trotter

Sir, In all the tributes to the late Arthur Miller, nobody has seen fit to mention one of the great abiding passions of his life, namely, his enduring love of the game of cricket.

I got to know him just after the war, when as a young man I was a member of a British touring cricket side know as the Colonial Casuals. (We set out to play in countries which had once belonged to Britain but no longer did so. At the time, this meant just the USA and France. Alas, now it would mean half the world! ) Arthur Miller played for a local team called the Brooklyn Bohemian XI and seemed to know a great deal about the history of cricket.

"We got our theatre from you, Gubby," he said to me once, "and if history had been kinder we might have got cricket from you as well. When you come to think of it, in a sense, cricket is theatre. In what other game do you have two or three players who play star roles (the batsman and the bowler), with lesser starring roles for the wicket keeper and the non-striking batsman, and the fielders as the spear carriers or perhaps as a sort of Greek chorus?

"In fact, pursuing the analogy with Greek tragedy, would it not be possible to see the two umpires as representatives on earth of the gods? Even the loftiest human has to appeal to the umpires for judgement. The umpires have instant powers of dismissal. They also measure out time with six small pebbles. Very mythical. I think you'll find that cricket would have been big in Ancient Greece."

yours etc

From Mrs Annie Whistler

Sir, I can vouch for the foregoing. Arthur Miller knew his cricket and his literature. He once told me that Jane Austen talks about baseball in one of her novels. I didn't believe him until, years later, I found in the opening of Northanger Abbey that at the age of 14 the heroine liked nothing better than "cricket, baseball, riding on horseback, and running about the country ..."

yours etc

From Mr Sid Unterwald

Sir, I can vouch for the foregoing. Artie Miller was hot on cricket. When I grew up in New York in the 1950s I used to play for a team in Queens called The Queens Own. We were a curious mixture of West Indian emigrés, British guys and Jewish intellectuals who felt that American football was way too Prussian and militaristic. So anyway one day this tall guy with glasses turns up for a game and we put him at midwicket, and the first thing you know he's taken an amazing running catch, you never saw anything like it, and Artie Miller, which is what we knew him as, became a team member. It was only much later I figured Artie out as the famous playwright. I asked him once: "Hey, Artie, why all this secrecy?" He said: "Cricketers are such single-minded people that I guessed a cricket game was the only place where nobody was going to ask me about Marilyn Monroe." Go figure.

yours etc

From Mrs Kate Flowers

Sir, I can vouch as well. I knew Art Miller at the time he was appearing in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee, and he never lost his sense of humour because one day he said to me: "Katie, these people questioning me have no imagination. They think that Communism is the most Un-American activity there could possibly be. Boy, if they knew that I was nuts about cricket ...!"

yours etc

From Mr Jerry Weinberg

Sir, I can vouch for etc. It may interest you to know that I once asked Arthur Miller if he resented being confused with Henry Miller. He said it didn't bother him, but that he would much rather be confused with Keith Miller. I said, who is this Keith Miller? He said, he's an Australian fast bowler. I said, what's a fast bowler? He said, Forget it. So I did.

yours etc