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Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller virtually never talked about his son Daniel. Daniel had Down syndrome. Arthur put him in an institution.





Arthur and Daniel

by Michael Bailey

When the celebrated American playwright Arthur Miller died last week he left behind a body of thought-provoking work. In an outpouring of tributes, Miller has been eulogized as a genius, a prophet and a champion of the weak. The syndicated columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. wrote that "Miller's understanding of human frailty created one of the great ethical imperatives of his work: the demand that respect be offered to other human beings despite their shortcomings."

Overlooked in all the tributes (an exception being the obituary that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, February 13) is the fact that in 1962 Miller and his wife Inge Morath had a son named Daniel. Daniel was born with Down syndrome and was immediately removed from his family and "placed" in the Southbery Training School in Connecticut. Miller seldom or never visited his son and did not mention him in his autobiography or ever acknowledge him in any way.

Marcie Roth, now Executive Director of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, worked at Southbery as a volunteer in high school. Roth remembers Danny Miller. "He was a sweet and funny kid," she recalls. "Everyone knew he was Arthur Miller's kid, though his dad rarely visited."

As far as I can find out Dan Miller may still be in the Connecticut institution. A place Roth describes as a "snakepit. Still is."

Arthur Miller abandoned his son as an infant and by so doing deprived Daniel of all trappings of normal life.

I admire Arthur Miller. Human beings are, indeed, complex. As the father of a teenager with Down syndrome I feel profound sadness, not only for the child, but for Miller as well. When Miller wrote "All My Sons" it is a shame that he did not, truly, include all of his sons. The genetic addition of one chromosome in his child was apparently one "shortcoming" that Miller, in spite of his genius, could not abide.

Tragic for Daniel Miller.

Tragic for Arthur Miller.

Posted January 28, 2005

Writer Michael Bailey is President of the Oregon Advocacy Center and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems. He has two daughters.

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