Allan Miller Remembers Marilyn … and Her Feline Friends

Allan Miller (no relation to Arthur) is a character actor and teacher to the likes of Geraldine Page, Barbara Streisand and Meryl Streep. Now 93, he has spoken about his early days at the Actors Studio in an interview with Karen Beishuizen for Ringside Report.

KB: You studied at The Actors Studio with Lee Strasberg. Your classmates were James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and Paul Newman? How was it studying with them?

“The same as everybody else, except that Dean was very short sighted, and commented rarely, but when he did it was very pointed and pertinent. Marilyn emanated sadness; and no one sat near her in class, until one day I decided to socialize a little, and when I got near her, she lit up and called me by name to ask if I’d like to sit with her. It turned out she had memorized almost everyone’s name in the sessions. She actually was going to bike ride across the Brooklyn Bridge to take two recently born kittens from my apartment in Brooklyn back to her hotel to mother them. The hotel refused to let her bring them in!”

This is interesting, as Marilyn did adopt a kitten, ‘Mitsou,’ after moving to New York in 1955. She initially stayed in hotels before moving to an apartment at Sutton Place South, and was asked by Lee Strasberg to observe a kitten as an acting exercise. Norman Rosten recalled her feline friend in his memoir, Marilyn: An Untold Story.

“She owned a beautiful russet striped cat, female, who had unaccountably become pregnant in a high-rise city apartment dwelling (a hallway romance?) Marilyn got wildly involved in the pregnancy, reading up on the subject, watching over the cat, feeding her extra delicacies, etc. She would interrupt a business session or evening on the town to call her maid and check on kitty. She counted the days, studied every sign, became nervous as the event approached. She had a box prepared with a soft blanket. There was never a more spoiled prenatal cat in feline history. She’d phone in daily bulletins: Cat looked fine, cat seemed to be breathing hard, cat didn’t eat much, cat looked listless or looked crazy. And all the while wondering how dear cat got pregnant, it wasn’t fair, animals were so helpless sexually, and what did I think? I thought if those kittens didn’t arrive soon, I would get an unlisted phone. And then, D-day, Delivery, well past midnight (even with cats, it seems), the phone ringing, and her breathless voice, ‘They’re coming, the kittens! Hurry, take a cab!’ Let it be known that I played this scene with masculine calm. ‘Name one after me!’ I said, and hung up quietly, then went back to sleep.”