1 of 13
Throughout his nearly 70-year career as a playwright and essayist, Arthur Miller—who was born 100 years ago Saturday, on Oct. 17, 1915—was as prolific as he was esteemed, writing dozens of plays and screenplays and garnering in return a Pulitzer, a healthy slew of Tony Awardss and a potpourri of mantle-worthy accolades. But his most famous works, and the plays to which LIFE magazine dispatched several of its most renowned photographers, were the ones that debuted between the late 1940s and mid-1950s.
If you were to scour lists of Miller’s greatest hits, four plays would surface as the most repeated: All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953) and A View From the Bridge (1955). Though Miller would go on to write dozens more over the next half-century, these four plays not only yielded the playwright the most attention—some of it unwanted—but also encapsulate many of the thematic threads Miller wove into his oeuvre: disillusionment and the American dream, McCarthy-era paranoia, familial connections and morality.
Perhaps the greatest indication that an artist’s work has lasting meaning is its ability to be reinterpreted and recontextualized, its themes applied in new ways decades after its debut. As Miller’s centennial is celebrated in New York City this weekend, contemporary playwrights prove that his work not only outlives its creator but transcends the bounds of both nation and language: A View From the Bridge will be staged in a Syrian-Muslim interpretation and Death of a Salesman will be performed entirely in Yiddish.
Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.