The original Broadway production of "Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller opened at the Morosco Theater on February 10, 1949, ran for 742 performances and won the 1949 Tony Award (New York City) for the Best Play. "Death of a Salesman" won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1949.
In the earliest version of the play, Arthur Miller wrote that Willy Loman was insulted when he overheard someone call him a "shrimp" but changed it to "walrus" when the bulky Lee J. Cobb was cast in the role in the Broadway premiere in 1947. When Dustin Hoffman took the part in the revival, Miller changed the script to include the original line.
In his autobiography "Timebends", Arthur Miller speculates that his unconscious mind picked the name "Loman" for Willy Loman, the protagonist of "Death of a Salesman", based on his conscious experience of being thrilled by Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (1933), which featured a character named "Commisioner Lohmann".
According to director Schlondorff: "The Lomans could have been my family. They were very Central European... It is poignant. That is enough... It's Greek tragedy, not a Christian tale of guilt and retribution."