Mike Nichols, Oscar-winning director of such classic films as The Graduate, died on Wednesday night at the age of 83.
An icon in the entertainment industry, Nichols moved effortlessly between film, theater, and television throughout his career and found major success in all three realms. In addition to the many awards and honors he received in his lifetime, he was one of only a handful of entertainers to win an Oscar (for directing 1967’s The Graduate), Emmy (he won two for the HBO projects Wit and Angels in America), Grammy (for a comedy album in 1961), and Tony award. He won an astonishing 9 Tonys in all, a run that included 7 for best director starting with 1964’s Barefoot in the Park and ending with his 2012 revival of Death of a Salesman starring Philip Seymour Hoffman.
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Born in Germany in 1931, Nichols escaped the Nazi regime with his family and came to the US at age 7. He became a US citizen in 1944, and began his career as part of the Chicago-based comedy group The Compass Players, alongside regular collaborator Elaine May. The duo later created the comedy act “Nichols and May,” recording three hit records between 1959 to 1962 and headlining their own Broadway show. Nichols won his first award, a Grammy, for their comedy album An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May in 1962.
Nichols’ film directing career spanned over five decades, beginning with his 1966 adaptation of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, one of the greatest film debuts of all time. He followed that with 1967’s generation-defining youth comedy The Graduate, which earned a Best Picture nomination, but lost toIn the Heat of the Night. Nichols did win his first and only Best Director statue for the film and continued his hot streak with Catch-22 and Carnal Knowledge. He would go on to to direct such classics as Silkwood, Working Girl, and The Birdcage.
Later in his directing career, he found tremendous success in television, directing the award-winning TV movie Wit and the mini-series version of Tony Kushner’s two-part play Angels in America. A fixture on Broadway, he helmed many indelible stage productions including Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Spamalot, and the recent Death of a Salesman revival.
Nichols is survived by his wife, children Daisy, Max and Jenny, and four grandchildren.
Watch a video about Nichols:
Related: Hollywood Mourns Mike Nichols
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