Although Mike Nichols, who passed away Wednesday night at age 83, was better known as a stage-and-screen legend, he had a long history with the television medium as well. That history dates all the way back to the late '50s when a young Nichols and his frequent collaborator Elaine May made appearances on numerous variety shows as the popular, Grammy-winning comedy duo "Nichols and May."
Here they are cracking the crowd up with their "$65 Funeral" routine on a Jack Paar-hosted program:
These are some of the many small-screen highlights in his storied career:
Playhouse 90 (1960)
The then-comic gave drama a try when he starred in an episode of CBS’s famous anthology series. Directed by John Frankenheimer and written by Roger O. Hirson, Journey to the Day cast Nichols as one of six patients undergoing group psychotherapy at a state-run asylum.
The Annie Christmas Show (1977)
Nichols was part of the creative team that launched the original Broadway production of Annie, producing the mega-hit and putting his name above the title as a presenter. He later produced this holiday special that hit the airwaves eight months into the show's run. As this clip illustrates, it’s only slightly less weird than the Star Wars Holiday Special.
Whoopi Goldberg: Direct from Broadway (1985)
An early admirer of Whoopi Goldberg, Nichols directed the one-woman Broadway show that made her a star. While he didn't direct the filmed version of the play, which aired on HBO in July 1985, his vision is carefully preserved onscreen.
American Masters: Nichols and May: Take Two (1996)
If you missed the brilliance of "Nichols and May" in their heyday, this hourlong American Masters-produced biography collects some of the duo's surviving vintage TV appearances, with fresh commentary from the comics they inspired, including Robin Williams and Steve Martin.
Nichols completed his run towards an EGOT when he picked up an Emmy for directing the HBO-televised adaptation of Margaret Edison's 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Emma Thompson co-wrote the screenplay with Nichols and stars in the wrenching account of one woman's death from ovarian cancer.
Angels in America (2003)
On the heels of Wit, HBO turned to Nichols to adapt Tony Kushner's seminal two-part play depicting the early years of the AIDS crisis on these shores into a four-hour miniseries. Boasting an all-star cast that includes Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Jeffrey Wright, and Mary-Louise Parker (all of whom won Emmys for their roles), the series was rapturously reviewed and gifted Nichols with his second Emmy.