"Death of a Salesman" won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1949.

According to Arthur Miller, in a 2000 essay entitled, "Are You Now Or Were You Ever?" Columbia asked Miller to sign an anti-Communist declaration to ward off the threat of picket lines by the American Legion at theaters showing "Death of a Salesman". He refused. Instead, Columbia made another movie, a short film entitled "Life of a Salesman" to be shown with it. The short consisted of business professors from City College praising sales as a profession, and denouncing the character of Willy Loman. Miller wrote: "Never in show-business history has a studio spent so much good money to prove that its feature film was pointless."

Arthur Miller disliked this film version of his play because he felt that the flashback sequences made it look as if Willy Loman were literally acting out his past in front of others, and that this made him seem insane. Perhaps because of this, other versions of the play have been shown on TV and video, but the 1951 version has not been televised in more than twenty years, and it has never been issued on VHS or DVD.

Cameron Mitchell, Mildred Dunnock and Howard Smith all repeated their Broadway roles in the film. Ms. Dunnock would play Linda Loman yet again in the 1966 television production of the play.

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 from _Testament des Dr. Mabuse, Das (1933)_, which featured a character named "Inspector Lohmann".

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. Cameron Mitchell recreated his stage role in the movie version.