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Mike Nichols

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Angels in America DVD This epic 2004 HBO six-part miniseries directed by Mike Nichols and written by... more info $19.98was $19.98 Buy Now

Biloxi Blues DVD "Biloxi Blues" (1988) stars Matthew Broderick as playwright Neil Simon's alter... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

Closer DVD Fall in love with the stellar performances in this captivating romantic drama.... more info $9.98was $9.98 Buy Now

Wit DVD The most important lessons of life often come towards the end of the journey.... more info $9.98was $9.98 Buy Now

Working Girl DVD Melanie Griffith stars as an executive secretary who isn't taken seriously in... more info $9.98was $9.98 Buy Now

Primary Colors DVD John Travolta and Emma Thompson paint the town in "Primary Colors" (1998). Based... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

Also Known As: Michael Igor Peschkowsky Died: November 19, 2014
Born: November 6, 1931 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Berlin, DE Profession: director, comedian, producer, actor, radio announcer, revue performer, delivery truck driver, waiter, post office clerk, janitor, hotel desk clerk

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

After establishing himself as the straight-man half of a popular comic duo with Elaine May in the late 1950s, Mike Nichols became one of the most decorated directors of stage and screen, earning several Tony Awards for his work on Broadway while helming seminal Academy Award-winning films. Though he began his career as in improvisational comedian and gained a degree of popularity with May, Nichols found his greatest success first on Broadway, where he collaborated extensively with Neil Simon to direct "Barefoot in the Park" (1963) and "The Odd Couple" (1965); both of which earned him Tony Awards for Best Director. He soon moved to Hollywood and directed the controversial "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966), which broke ground for its use of profanity and frank handling of marriage infidelity, and "The Graduate" (1967), which managed to tap into the feelings of isolation and abandonment by that era's youth. Following a misfire with his adaptation of "Catch-22" (1970), Nichols once again broke ground tackling the subject of sex and relationships with the hit drama, "Carnal Knowledge" (1971). But he soon broke away from Hollywood to focus on the stage, only to return with the acclaimed biopic...

After establishing himself as the straight-man half of a popular comic duo with Elaine May in the late 1950s, Mike Nichols became one of the most decorated directors of stage and screen, earning several Tony Awards for his work on Broadway while helming seminal Academy Award-winning films. Though he began his career as in improvisational comedian and gained a degree of popularity with May, Nichols found his greatest success first on Broadway, where he collaborated extensively with Neil Simon to direct "Barefoot in the Park" (1963) and "The Odd Couple" (1965); both of which earned him Tony Awards for Best Director. He soon moved to Hollywood and directed the controversial "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966), which broke ground for its use of profanity and frank handling of marriage infidelity, and "The Graduate" (1967), which managed to tap into the feelings of isolation and abandonment by that era's youth. Following a misfire with his adaptation of "Catch-22" (1970), Nichols once again broke ground tackling the subject of sex and relationships with the hit drama, "Carnal Knowledge" (1971). But he soon broke away from Hollywood to focus on the stage, only to return with the acclaimed biopic "Silkwood" (1983), starring Meryl Streep. Following popular hits like "Working Girl" (1988) and "Biloxi Blues" (1988), Nichols' film career hit a precipitous downturn until he directed the surprise hit comedy "The Birdcage" (1996). On the small screen, he found even more success with the acclaimed made-for-cable movie "Wit" (HBO, 2001) and the extraordinary miniseries "Angels in America" (HBO, 2003), both of which earned their share of critical adulation and awards. After a return to big screen form with "Closer" (2004) and "Charlie Wilson's War" (2007), Nichols proved that he was just as viable as he was when he broke new ground for a previous generation. Still active with stage and screen work well into his 80s, Nichols' sudden death on November 19, 2014 at the age of 83 stunned the film and theater community.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  Closer (2004) Director
3.
  Wit (2001) Director
4.
5.
  Primary Colors (1998) Director
6.
  The Birdcage (1996) Director
7.
  Wolf (1994) Director
8.
  Regarding Henry (1991) Director
9.
  Postcards From The Edge (1990) Director
10.
  Working Girl (1988) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Designated Mourner, The (1997) Jack
8.
 Catch-22 (1996) Interviewee
9.
 Nichols and May -- Take Two (1996) Interviewee
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Born in Berlin
1936:
At age four, had a bad reaction to a defective whopping-cough vaccine that left him permanently denuded
1939:
Sent with brother to USA to live with father who had arrived in NYC in 1938
1939:
Placed by father with an English-speaking family
1943:
Certified as a "genius" at age 12
1948:
Attended a performance of the Broadway play "A Streetcar Named Desire" and decided he had to "be around theatre"
:
While attending the University of Chicago, directed first stage play, a student production of "Purgatory"; starring Edward Asner
1954:
After dropping out of college, moved to NYC to study acting with Lee Strasberg; returned to Chicago after just about a year
1955:
With Elaine May, Alan Arkin, Barbara Harris and Paul Sills, formed improvisational group The Compass Players (later Second City)
:
Formed a comedy trio with May and Shelley Berman
1958:
Was fired from The Compass at May's insistance
1958:
With May, began appearing in nightclubs in NYC; appeared on "The Steve Allen Show" and later "Omnibus"
1959:
TV debut as panelist on "Laugh Line"
1960:
Made Broadway debut in "An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May"; reportedly the pair began to experience difficulties which occasionally spilled over into their performances
1962:
Had lead in May's stage play "A Matter of Position"; closed out of town in Philadelphia; following the failure of the production, the pair ended their professional and personal relationship for many years
1962:
Staged "The World of Jules Feiffer" in New Jersey; Stephen Sondheim contributed the music
1962:
Was one of the writers for the variety special "Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall" (CBS), featuring Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett
1963:
Directed first Broadway play, "Barefoot in the Park" (originally titled "Nobody Loves Me" during its tryout at the Bucks County Playhouse); won first Tony Award
1965:
Enjoyed two stage successes with "Luv" and Simon's "The Odd Couple"; earned second Tony Award for direction of both
1966:
Feature film directing debut, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"; received first Academy Award nomination as Best Director
1967:
Earned Best Director Oscar for "The Graduate"
1968:
Reunited with Simon on "Plaza Suite"; picked up Tony Award
1970:
Directed the screen adaptation of Joseph Heller's comic novel "Catch-22"
1971:
Feature producing debut, "Carnal Knowledge"; also directed
1972:
Was director of the Neil Simon play "The Prisoner of Second Avenue"; won Tony Award
1973:
Helmed "The Day of the Dolphin"
1975:
Directed "The Fortune"; teaming Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty
1975:
Left film directing for a period after closing down the set of the Neil Simon-scripted "Bogart Slept Here"
1976:
Executive produced the ABC drama series "Family"
1977:
Produced first stage musical, "Annie"
1977:
Staged the Pulitzer-winning two-character comedy-drama "The Gin Game" starring Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn
1980:
Returned to stage acting as George in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, CT (opposite Elaine May as Martha)
1980:
Directed the concert film "Gilda Live"
1983:
Picked up third Best Director Oscar nomination for "Silkwood" starring Meryl Streep
1984:
Staged Tom Stoppard's play "The Real Thing"; won Tony Award
1984:
Produced and served as production supervisor on the one-person show "Whoopi Goldberg"
1986:
Executive produced "The Long Shot"; helmed by Paul Bartel
1986:
Reteamed with Streep and Nicholson for "Heartburn"; adapted from Nora Ephron's novel
1988:
Served as executive producer of the short-lived ABC sitcom "The Thorns"
1988:
Received fourth Academy Award nomination for Best Director for the screen comedy "Working Girl"
1988:
With Paul Sills and George Morrison, founded the New Actors Workshop
1988:
Staged a revival of Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" with Steve Martin, Robin Williams and Bill Irwin in leading roles
1990:
Third film with Streep, "Postcards From the Edge"
1991:
Directed Harrison Ford in "Regarding Henry"
1992:
Directed "Death and the Maiden" on Broadway; starred Glenn Close, Gene Hackman and Richard Dreyfuss
1993:
As one of the producers, shared Best Picture Oscar nomination for "The Remains of the Day"
1994:
Reunited with Jack Nicholson for "Wolf"
1996:
First film collaboration with Elaine May, "The Birdcage," a loose remake of "La cage aux folles"; teaming Robin Williams and Nathan Lane
1996:
London stage acting debut, "The Designated Mourner"
1997:
Film acting debut, reprised role in David Hare's film of "The Designated Mourner"
1998:
Again teamed with May, helming her script for the film version of the political satire "Primary Colors"
1999:
Honored with a tribute by the Film Society of Lincoln Center (May 3)
2000:
Produced and directed "What Planet Are You From?"
2001:
Helmed the HBO adaptation of the Pulitzer-winning play "Wit"; starring Emma Thompson, with whom he co-wrote the script; also executive produced
2001:
Returned to stage directing, helming "The Seagull" in NYC's Central Park
2003:
Directed the HBO adaptation of Tony Kushner's epic "Angels in America"
2004:
Directed and produced Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts, Jude Law and Clive Owen in "Closer"; based on the play by British playwright Patrick Marber; film was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Picture (Drama) and Nichols was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Director
2005:
Directed David Hyde Pierce, Tim Curry and Hank Azaria in the Broadway production of "Monty Python's Spamalot," a stage musical based on the British comedy troupe's 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail; received a Tony nomination for Best Direction of a Musical
2005:
Produced "Whoopi, the 20th Anniversary Show," Whoopi Goldberg's return to the stage; earned a Tony nomination for Best Special Theatrical Event
2007:
Helmed "Charlie Wilson's War" about Democratic Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson, played by Tom Hanks; re-teamed with Roberts
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Dalton School: New York , New York -
Walden School: New York , New York - 1948
University of Chicago: Chicago , Illinois - 1950 - 1953

Notes

Nichols formed Icarus Productions.

When he won the Emmy Award in 2001, he joined the ranks of a select few who have won all four of the major entertainment awards in competition. The others are Mel Brooks, Rita Moreno, Marvin Hamlisch, Helen Hayes, Sir John Gielgud and Audrey Hepburn.

Presented with the 2002 National Medal of Arts by US President George Bush.

"In the late '80s, Nichols had a crise de conscience, triggered, he says, by a severe depression brought on by Halcion ... He would begin to feel he was subject to some vague retribution 'for having escaped, for no particular reason the Holocaust ...' He considers the 'art film' or 'auteur' period of the '60s and '70s an aberration, a dead end. He points out that movies have always been a popular medium ... Do we really want to hear Bach on the harmonica? Wouldn't we prefer 'Oh! Susanna'?" --From Premiere, March 1994.

"I never worked with anyone in my life -- nor will I work with anyone as good as Mike Nichols." --playwright Neil Simon.

"He appears to defer to you, then in the end he gets exactly what he wants. He conspires with you rather than directs you, to get your best." --Richard Burton.

"A joke is like an orgasm. It has no politics." --Mike Nichols

"I was standing right behind Marilyn Monroe when she sang 'Happy Birthday' [to President John F. Kennedy in 1962] She had been sewed into her dress. And as she stepped up on the this thing, it split. I could see her ass. In this sort of flesh-colored-to-begin-with dress. So I have a very clear memory of that.

"There was a party after that show and we made some Bobby jokes, and [Bobby Kennedy] was very pissed. He said, 'I'm going to look into your tax returns.' And then we were on the dance floor, and he and Marilyn danced past us, having met that night. And I actually heard her say -- it's so bizarre -- I heard her say, 'I like you, Bobby.' And he said, 'I like you, too, Marilyn.' Who would write this dialogue for the night they met? And I heard it! I was Zelig! You don't know that history is being made when it's being made." --Nichols quoted in New York, March 2, 1998.

"I am drawn to the mystery of marriage. You can never know what the contract is between two people, and that is a very strong subject. I think it may be my subject. The few intimate scens that there are in ["Primary Colors"] are very powerful. They are clues to a mystery that can't be solved. If you've ever known a couple where the husband is a great philanderer, you'll recognise that no one ever knows what the wife thinks about it, or how much she knows. It cannot be known. All that's known is that in some way, to some extent, she is a participant." --Nichols to Empire, November 1998.

On his relationship with Elaine May, Mike Nichols was quoted in the Los Angeles Times (March 15, 1998): "She has all my references. She's the person to whom I have to explain nothing. In the '50s, we were two hot, headstrong adolescents. Now we're two infinitely courteous, almost Japanese diplomats."

"As a director, my job is, and always has been, divided into a number of things: dealing with the crew, the money and the studio, and the marketing and publicity. These are all different jobs that have to be learned and done as well as possible. The celebrity part rarely touches a director." --Mike Nichols to Brendan Lemon in Interview, April 1998.

About why he cannot live in Los Angeles, Nichols was quoted by Peter Applebome in The New York Times (April 25, 1999) as saying: "There's a virus I have no protection against if I'm there: How am I perceived? And you can do whatever you like, put towels at the bottom of the door, not read the trades, which I have not done in 35 years. if you're there long enough, you will think, 'But how am I perceived?' If you're vulnerable to the virus, you've got to stay away from the matrix."

"He always pushed with agents -- I speak for us all: more money, more power, more billing. Eventually the demands became cruel. Artists in the theater should not take from each other things that are not necessary.

... "He's ruthless when he wants to be, maybe even when he doesn't want to be. He doesn't let anything stand in his way." --agent Robert Lantz quoted in the February 21 & 28, 2000 The New Yorker profile by John Lahr.

"My father wasn't too crazy about me. I loved him anyway. One of the things I regretted for a long time was that he died before he could see that he would be proud of me. I was actually more what he wished for than he thought." --Mike Nichols quoted by John Lahr in a profile published in The New Yorker February 21 & 28, 2000 and collected in the 2001 book "Show Time: New Yorker Profiles".

"He's not as generous to himself as he deserves to be. He's got a voicein him that's very harsh, and unnecessarily so." --Annette Bening quoted in a profile of Nichols written by John Lahr first published in The New Yorker (February 21 & 28, 2000) and later collected in "Show and Tell: New Yorker Profiles", published in 2001.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Elaine May. Actor, writer, director. Met in 1954 while both were living in Chicago; had brief romance before forming their famous on stage partnership.
wife:
Patricia Scott. Singer. Married on June 8, 1957; separated in the late 1950s; divorced.
wife:
Margot Callas. Divorced.
wife:
Annabel Davis-Goff. Divorced in the mid-1980s.
wife:
Diane Sawyer. Anchorwoman, journalist. Born on December 22, 1945; married on April 29, 1988 in New York.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

grandmother:
Hedwig Lachmann. Librettist. Translated original Oscar Wilde play from the French and wrote libretto to Richard Strauss' opera "Salome".
grandfather:
Gustav Landauer. Head of the German Social Democratic Party.
father:
Nicholaievitch Peschowsky. Doctor. Russian-born; moved to Germany after the 1917 Russian Revolution; moved to NYC in 1938 to escape the Nazis; died of leukemia c. 1942.
mother:
Brigitte Peschowsky. German; born c. 1908; emigrated to USA in 1941; had remained in Germany because of illness and marital problems.
brother:
Robert Nichols. Born c. 1936.
son:
Max Nichols. Born c. 1974; mother, Anabel Davis-Goff.
daughter:
Jenny Nichols. Born c. 1977; mother, Anabel Davis-Goff.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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