Mike Nichols (born Mikhail Igor Peschkowsky; November 6, 1931 – November 19, 2014) was an American film and theater director, producer, actor, and comedian. He was noted for his ability to work across a range of genres and for his aptitude for getting the best out of actors regardless of their experience. Nichols began his career in the 1950s with the comedy improvisational troupe The Compass Players, predecessor of The Second City, in Chicago. He then teamed up with his improv partner, Elaine May, to form the comedy duo Nichols and May. Their live improv act was a hit on Broadway, and the first of their three albums won a Grammy Award.
After Nichols and May disbanded in 1961, he began directing plays, and quickly became known for his innovative productions and ability to elicit polished performances. His Broadway directing debut was Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park in 1963, with Robert Redford and Elizabeth Ashley. He next directed Luv in 1964, and in 1965 directed another Neil Simon play, The Odd Couple. He received a Tony Award for each of those plays. In 2012, he won his sixth Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play with a revival of Death of a Salesman. Nichols directed and/or produced more than twenty-five Broadway plays.
In 1966, Warner Brothers invited Nichols to direct his first film, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The groundbreaking film inspired some critics to declare Nichols the "new Orson Welles". It won five Academy Awards (out of 13 nominations), and was the top-grossing film of 1966. Nichols's next film, The Graduate (1967) starred then unknown actor Dustin Hoffman, alongside Anne Bancroft and Katharine Ross. It was another critical and financial success, became the highest-grossing film of the year, and received seven Academy Award nominations, winning Nichols the Academy Award for Best Director.
Among the other films Nichols directed were Catch-22 (1970), Carnal Knowledge (1971), Silkwood (1983), Working Girl (1988), Wolf (1994), The Birdcage (1996), Closer (2004) and Charlie Wilson's War (2007).
Along with an Academy Award, Nichols won a Grammy Award (the first for a comedian born outside the United States), four Emmy Awards, nine Tony Awards, and three BAFTA Awards. His other honors included the Lincoln Center Gala Tribute in 1999, the National Medal of Arts in 2001, the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003 and the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2010. His films received a total of 42 Academy Award nominations, and seven wins. He is one of the few people who have won Academy, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Awards.
Mikhail Igor Peschkowsky
November 6, 1931
|Died||November 19, 2014 (aged 83)|
New York City, U.S.
|Resting place||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Occupation||Film director, theatre director, film producer, actor, comedian|
(m. 1957; div. 1960)
(m. 1963; div. 1974)
(m. 1975; div. 1986)
Diane Sawyer (m. 1988)
|Relatives||Rachel Nichols (daughter-in-law)|
Nichols was born Mikhail Igor Peschkowsky on November 6, 1931, in Berlin, Germany, the son of Brigitte (née Landauer) and Pavel Peschkowsky, a physician. His father was born in Vienna, Austria, to a Russian Jewish immigrant family. Nichols' father's family had been wealthy and lived in Siberia, leaving after the Russian Revolution, and settling in Germany around 1920. Nichols' mother's family were German Jews. His maternal grandparents were Gustav Landauer, a leading theorist on anarchism, and author Hedwig Lachmann. Nichols was a third cousin twice removed of scientist Albert Einstein, through Nichols' mother.
In April 1939, when the Nazis were arresting Jews in Berlin, seven-year-old Mikhail and his three-year-old brother Robert were sent alone to the United States to join their father, who had fled months earlier. His mother eventually joined the family, escaping through Italy in 1940. The family moved to New York City on April 28, 1939. His father, whose original Russian name was Pavel Nikolaevich Peschkowsky, changed his name to Paul Nichols, Nichols derived from his Russian patronymic. Before Dr. Paul Nichols had received his U.S. medical license, he was employed by a union on 42nd Street, X-raying union members. He later had a successful medical practice in Manhattan, enabling the family to live near Central Park.
"Before he established his practice, he was a union doctor, and part of his job was X-raying union members, they didn't know about shielding X-ray machines. And he died of leukemia at 44." (in 1944)
– Mike Nichols
Nichols' youth was difficult because by age 4, following an inoculation for whooping cough, he had lost his hair, and consequently wore wigs for the rest of his life. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1944 and attended public elementary school in Manhattan (PS 87). After graduating from the Walden School, a private progressive school on Central Park West, Nichols briefly attended New York University before dropping out. In 1950, he enrolled in the pre-med program at the University of Chicago. He later described this college period as "paradise," recalling how "I never had a friend from the time I came to this country until I got to the University of Chicago."
While in Chicago in 1953, Nichols joined the staff of struggling classical music station WFMT, 98.7 FM, as an announcer. Co-owner Rita Jacobs asked Nichols to create a folk music program on Saturday nights, which he named The Midnight Special. He hosted the program for two years before leaving for New York City. Nichols frequently invited musicians to perform live in the studio and eventually created a unique blend of "folk music and farce, showtunes and satire, odds and ends," along with his successor Norm Pellegrini. The program endures today in the same time slot.
Nichols first saw Elaine May when she was sitting in the front row while he was playing the lead in a Chicago production of Miss Julie, and they made eye contact.:39 Weeks later he ran into her in a train station where he started a conversation in an assumed accent, pretending to be a spy, and she played along, using another accent.:325 They hit it off immediately, which led to a brief romance. Later in his career, he said "Elaine was very important to me from the moment I saw her.":325
In 1953, Nichols left Chicago for New York City to study method acting under Lee Strasberg, but was unable to find stage work there. He was invited back to join Chicago's Compass Players in 1955, the predecessor to Chicago's Second City, whose members included May, Shelley Berman, Del Close, and Nancy Ponder, directed by Paul Sills. In Chicago, he started doing improvisational routines with May, which eventually led to the formation of the comedy duo Nichols and May in 1958, first performing in New York City.
They performed live satirical comedy acts and eventually released three records of their routines, which became best-sellers. They also appeared in nightclubs and were on radio and television. Jack Rollins, who later became Woody Allen's manager and producer, invited them to audition and was most impressed: "Their work was so startling, so new, as fresh as could be. I was stunned by how really good they were, actually as impressed by their acting technique as by their comedy ... I thought, My God, these are two people writing hilarious comedy on their feet!:340
In 1960, Nichols and May opened the Broadway show An Evening With Mike Nichols and Elaine May, directed by Arthur Penn. The LP album of the show won the 1962 Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album. Personal idiosyncrasies and tensions eventually drove the duo apart to pursue other projects in 1961. About their sudden breakup, director Arthur Penn said, "They set the standard and then they had to move on,":351 while talk show host Dick Cavett said "they were one of the comic meteors in the sky.":348 Comedy historian Gerald Nachman describes the effect of their break-up on American comedy:
Nichols and May are perhaps the most ardently missed of all the satirical comedians of their era. When Nichols and May split up, they left no imitators, no descendants, no blueprints or footprints to follow. No one could touch them.:319
They later reconciled and worked together many times, such as on the unsuccessful A Matter of Position, a play written by May and starring Nichols. They appeared together at President Jimmy Carter's inaugural gala, in 1977, and in a 1980 New Haven stage revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with Swoosie Kurtz and James Naughton. May scripted Nichols' films The Birdcage (1996) and Primary Colors (1998). In 2010, at the AFIs "Life Achievement Award" ceremony, May gave a humor-filled tribute to Nichols.
After the professional split with May, Nichols went to Vancouver, B.C. to work in the theater directing a production of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest and acted in a revival of George Bernard Shaw's St. Joan.
In 1963, Nichols was chosen to direct Neil Simon's play Barefoot In The Park. He realized at once that he was meant to be a director, saying in a 2003 interview: "On the first day of rehearsal, I thought, 'Well, look at this. Here is what I was meant to do.' I knew instantly that I was home". Barefoot in the Park was a big hit, running for 1530 performances and earning Nichols a Tony Award for his direction.
This began a series of highly successful plays on Broadway (often from works by Simon) that would establish his reputation. After an off-Broadway production of Ann Jellicoe's The Knack, Nichols directed Murray Schisgal's play Luv in 1964. Again the show was a hit and Nichols won a Tony Award (shared with The Odd Couple). In 1965 he directed another play by Neil Simon, The Odd Couple. The original production starred Art Carney as Felix Ungar and Walter Matthau as Oscar Madison. The play ran for 966 performances and won Tony Awards for Nichols, Simon and Matthau. Overall, Nichols won nine Tony Awards: including six for Best Director of either a play or a musical, one for Best Play, and one for Best Musical.
In 1966, Nichols was a star stage director and Time magazine called him "the most in-demand director in the American theatre." Although he had no experience in filmmaking, after befriending Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Warner Bros. invited Nichols to direct a screen adaptation of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, and Sandy Dennis. The film was critically acclaimed, with critics calling Nichols "the new Orson Welles", and a financial success, the number 1 film of 1966.
The film was considered groundbreaking for having a level of profanity and sexual innuendo unheard of at that time. It won five Academy Awards and garnered thirteen nominations (including Nichols' first nomination for Best Director), earning the distinctions of being one of only two films nominated in every eligible category at the Oscars (the other being Cimarron), and the first film to have its entire credited cast nominated for acting Oscars. It also won three BAFTA Awards and was later ranked #67 in AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition).
His next film was The Graduate (1967), starring Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft and Katharine Ross. It became the highest-grossing film of 1967 and one of the biggest grossing films in history up to that date. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, with Nichols winning as Best Director. In 2007, it was ranked #17 in AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition).
However, getting the film made was difficult for Nichols, who, while noted for being a successful Broadway director, was still an unknown in Hollywood. Producer Lawrence Turman, who wanted only Nichols to direct it, was continually turned down for financing. He then contacted producer Joseph E. Levine, who said he would finance the film because he knew of Nichols' reputation as a Broadway director, and because he heard that Elizabeth Taylor specifically wanted Nichols to direct her and Richard Burton in Virginia Woolf. With financing assured, Nichols suggested Buck Henry for screenwriter, although Henry's experience had also been mostly in improvised comedy, and had no writing background. Nichols said to Henry, "I think you could do it; I think you should do it."
Nichols also took a chance on using Dustin Hoffman, who had no film experience, for the lead, when others had suggested using known star Robert Redford. Hoffman credits Nichols for having taken a great risk in giving him, a relative unknown, the starring role: "I don't know of another instance of a director at the height of his powers who would take a chance and cast someone like me in that part. It took tremendous courage."
The quality of the cinematography was also influenced by Nichols, who chose Oscar winner Robert Surtees to do the photography. Surtees, who had photographed major films since the 1920s, including Ben-Hur, said later, "It took everything I had learned over 30 years to be able to do the job. I knew that Mike Nichols was a young director who went in for a lot of camera. We did more things in this picture than I ever did in one film."
Nichols also chose the music by Simon and Garfunkel. When Paul Simon was taking too long to write new songs for the film, he used existing songs, originally planning to replace them with newly written ones. In the end only one new song was available, and Nichols used the existing previously released songs. At one point, when Nichols heard Paul Simon's song, "Mrs. Roosevelt," he suggested to Simon that he change it to "Mrs. Robinson." The song won a Grammy after the film was released and became America's number 1 pop song. Nichols selected all the numerous songs for the film and chose which scenes they would be used in. The placement and selection of songs would affect the way audiences understood the film. Even actor William Daniels, who played Hoffman's father, remembers that after first hearing the songs, especially "The Sound of Silence," he thought, "Oh, wait a minute. That changed the whole idea of the picture for me," suddenly realizing the film would not be a typical comedy.
Nichols had previously returned to Broadway to direct The Apple Tree, starring Second City alumna, Barbara Harris. After doing The Graduate, he again returned to the Broadway stage with a revival of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes in 1967, which ran for 100 performances. He then directed Neil Simon's Plaza Suite in 1968, earning him another Tony Award for Best Director. He also directed the short film Teach Me! (1968), which starred actress Sandy Dennis.
Nichols' next film was a big-budget adaptation of Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22 (1970), followed by Carnal Knowledge (1971) starring Jack Nicholson, Ann-Margret, Art Garfunkel and Candice Bergen. The latter film was highly controversial upon release because of the casual and blunt depiction of sexual intercourse. In Georgia, a theatre manager was convicted in 1972 of violating the state's obscenity statutes by showing the film, a conviction later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in Jenkins v. Georgia.
Nichols returned to Broadway to direct Neil Simon's The Prisoner of Second Avenue in 1971. The play won Nichols another Tony Award for Best Director. In 1973, Nichols directed a revival of Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya on Broadway starring George C. Scott and with a new translation by himself and Albert Todd. In 1973 Nichols directed the film The Day of the Dolphin starring George C. Scott, based on the French novel Un animal doué de raison (lit. A Sentient Animal) by Robert Merle and adapted by Buck Henry. The film was not successful financially and received mixed reviews from critics. Nichols next directed The Fortune (1975), starring Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson and Stockard Channing. Again, the film was a financial failure and received mostly negative reviews. It was Nichols' last feature narrative film for eight years.
Nichols returned to the stage with two moderately successful productions in 1976; David Rabe's Streamers opened in April and ran for 478 performances. Trevor Griffiths's Comedians ran for 145 performances. In 1976 Nichols also worked as Executive Producer to create the television drama Family for ABC. The series ran until 1980.
In 1977, Nichols produced the original Broadway production of the hugely successful musical Annie, which ran for 2,377 performances until 1983. Nichols won the Tony Award for Best Musical. Later in 1977, Nichols directed D.L. Coburn's The Gin Game. The play ran for 517 performances and won a Tony Award for Best Actress for Jessica Tandy.
In 1980, Nichols directed the documentary Gilda Live, a filmed performance of comedian Gilda Radner's one-woman show Gilda Radner Live on Broadway. It was released at the same time as the album of the show, both of which were successful. Nichols then directed two unsuccessful shows: Billy Bishop Goes to War, which opened in 1980 and closed after only twelve performances, and Neil Simon's Fools, in 1981, which closed after forty performances.
Returning to Hollywood, Nichols' career rebounded in 1983 with the film Silkwood, starring Meryl Streep, Cher and Kurt Russell, based on the life of whistleblower Karen Silkwood. The film was a financial and critical success, with film critic Vincent Canby calling it "the most serious work Mike Nichols has yet done." The film received five Academy Award nominations, including a Best Director nomination for Nichols.
That same year, Nichols and Peter Stone helped to fix up and rewrite the musical My One and Only just days before its Boston premiere. The show eventually went to Broadway and ran for 767 performances, winning Tony Awards for Best Actor, Best Choreography (both for Tommy Tune) and best Supporting Actor (Charles "Honi" Coles).
In 1984, Nichols directed the Broadway premiere of Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing. The New York Times critic Frank Rich wrote that "The Broadway version of The Real Thing—a substantial revision of the original London production—is not only Mr. Stoppard's most moving play, but also the most bracing play that anyone has written about love and marriage in years." The play was nominated for seven Tony Awards and won five, including a Best Director Tony for Nichols.
Nichols followed the success with the Broadway premiere of David Rabe's Hurlyburly, also in 1984. It was performed just two blocks away from the theater showing The Real Thing. It was nominated for three Tony Awards and won Best Actress for Judith Ivey.
In 1983, Nichols had seen comedian Whoopi Goldberg's one woman show, The Spook Show and wanted to help her expand it. Goldberg's self-titled Broadway show opened in October 1984 and ran for 156 performances. Rosie O'Donnell said that Nichols had discovered Goldberg while she was struggling as a downtown street artist: "He gave her the entire beginning of her career and recognized her brilliance before anyone else." In 1986 Nichols directed the Broadway premiere of Andrew Bergman's Social Security and in 1988 directed Waiting for Godot, starring Robin Williams and Steve Martin. Williams cited Nichols and May as among his early influences for performing intelligent comedy.
In 1986, Nichols directed the film Heartburn, which received mixed reviews, and starred Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson. In 1988, Nichols completed two feature films. The first was an adaptation of Neil Simon's autobiographical stage play Biloxi Blues starring Matthew Broderick, also receiving mixed critical reviews. Nichols directed one of his most successful films, Working Girl, which starred Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver. The film was a huge hit upon its release. It also received mostly positive reviews from critics with an 84% rating at Rotten Tomatoes and a 73 metascore at Metacritic. It was nominated for six Academy Awards (including Best Director for Nichols) and won the Academy Award for Best Song for Carly Simon's "Let the River Run".
At one point in the 1980s, Nichols—who was prone to bouts of depression—reported that he had considered suicide, a feeling apparently brought on by a psychotic episode he experienced after taking the drug Halcion.
In the 1990s, Nichols directed several more successful, well-received films including Postcards from the Edge (1990) starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine; Primary Colors (1998) starring John Travolta and Emma Thompson; and The Birdcage (1996), an American remake of the 1978 French film La Cage aux Folles starring Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, Gene Hackman and Dianne Wiest. Both The Birdcage and Primary Colors were written by Elaine May, Nichols' comedy partner earlier in his career. Other films directed by Nichols include Regarding Henry (1991) starring Harrison Ford and Wolf (1994) starring Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer. When he was honored by Lincoln Center in 1999 for his life's work, Elaine May—speaking once again as his friend—served up the essence of Nichols with the following:
So he's witty, he's brilliant, he's articulate, he's on time, he's prepared and he writes. But is he perfect? He knows you can't really be liked or loved if you're perfect. You have to have just enough flaws. And he does. Just the right, perfect flaws to be absolutely endearing.
In the 2000s, Nichols directed the films What Planet Are You From? (2000), Closer (2004) and Charlie Wilson's War (2007), a political drama that was ultimately his final feature film. What Planet Are You From? received mixed reviews from critics, while Closer and Charlie Wilson's War received generally positive reviews and were both nominated for Academy Awards, BAFTA and Golden Globe awards. Nichols also directed widely acclaimed adaptations of Wit (2001) and Angels in America (2003) for television, winning Emmy Awards for both of them.
In 2012, Nichols won the Best Direction of a Play Tony Award for Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. In April 2013, it was announced that he would direct Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz in a Broadway revival of Harold Pinter's Betrayal. The play began its limited run on October 1 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, opening on November 3 through January 5, 2014. Nichols was also in talks to direct a film adaptation of Jonathan Tropper's novel One Last Thing Before I Go. The film was to be produced by J.J. Abrams, who previously wrote the Nichols-directed film Regarding Henry (1991).
Nichols was a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post. He was also a co-founder of The New Actors Workshop in New York City, where he occasionally taught. In addition, he remained active in the Directors Guild of America, interviewing fellow film director Bennett Miller on stage in October 2011 after the Guild's screening of Miller's Moneyball.
In January 2016, PBS aired Mike Nichols: American Masters, an American Masters documentary about Nichols directed by his former improv partner, Elaine May. On February 22, 2016, HBO aired the documentary Becoming Mike Nichols.
After his early successes as a stage and film director, Nichols had developed a reputation as an auteur who likes to work intimately with his actors and writers, often using them repeatedly in different films. Writer Peter Applebome noted that "few directors have such a gift for getting performances out of actors." During a half-year period in 1967 he had four hit plays running simultaneously on Broadway, during which time his first Hollywood feature, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, had also become a popular and critical success. Combined with his second film, The Graduate, in 1967, the two films had already earned a total of 20 Oscar nominations, including two for Best Director, and winning it for The Graduate.
Nichols was able to get the best out of actors regardless of their acting experience, whether an unknown such as Dustin Hoffman or a major star like Richard Burton. For his first film, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, each of the four actors was nominated for an Oscar, with Elizabeth Taylor and Sandy Dennis winning. Burton later said, "I didn't think I could learn anything about comedy—I'd done all of Shakespeare's. But from him I learned," adding, "He conspires with you to get your best."
However, it was Taylor who chose Nichols to be their director, because, writes biographer David Bret, "she particularly admired him because he had done a number of ad-hoc jobs to pay for his education after arriving in America as a seven-year-old Jewish refugee." Producer Ernest Lehman agreed with her choice: "He was the only one who could handle them," he said. "The Burtons were quite intimidating, and we needed a genius like Mike Nichols to combat them." Biographer Kitty Kelley says that neither Taylor nor Burton would ever again reach the heights of acting performance they did in that film.
The same style of directing was used for The Graduate, where, notes film historian Peter Biskind, Nichols took Dustin Hoffman, with no movie acting experience, along with Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross and others, and managed to get some of their finest acting on screen. This ability to work closely with actors would remain consistent throughout his career. Hoffman credits Nichols for permitting the realistic acting needed for the satirical roles in that film:
It's Nichols's style—he walks that edge of really going as far as he can without falling over the cliff, into disbelief. It's not caricature. That's the highest compliment for satire.
In a similar way, Jeremy Irons, who acted in the play The Real Thing, said that Nichols creates a very "protective environment: he makes you feel he's only there for you," while Ann-Margret, for her role in Carnal Knowledge, felt the same: "What's wonderful about Mike is that he makes you feel like you're the one that's come up with the idea, when it's actually his."
Nichols was married four times; the first three ended in divorce; the last ended upon his death. He also had a discreet decade-long affair with photographer Richard Avedon, according to Avedon's studio director and business manager.
Nichols' first marriage was to Patricia Scot; they were married from 1957 to 1960. His second was to Margot Callas, a former "muse" of the poet Robert Graves, from 1963 to 1974. The couple had a daughter together, Daisy Nichols. His third marriage, to Annabel Davis-Goff, produced two children, Max Nichols and Jenny Nichols; they married in 1975 and divorced in 1986. His fourth was to former ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer, whom he married on April 29, 1988. Although none of his wives were Jewish and his children were not brought up according to a religion, they call themselves Jewish. His son Max married ESPN journalist Rachel Nichols.
Nichols had a lifelong interest in Arabian horses. From 1968 to 2004, he owned a farm in Connecticut and was a noted horse breeder. Over the years, he also imported quality Arabian horses from Poland, some of which sold for record-setting prices.
Nichols died of a heart attack on November 19, 2014, at his apartment in Manhattan. During the 87th annual Academy Awards, 22 February 2015, Nichols was featured in the In Memoriam segment of the 2015 Oscars, in anchor position. Nichols left a painting titled "Horse with Groom" by John Frederick Herring Sr. to his son Max Nichols.
|1963||Barefoot in the Park||Director||Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play|
|1964||Luv||Director||Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play|
|1965||The Odd Couple||Director||Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play|
|1966||The Apple Tree||Director||Nominated–Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical|
|1967||The Little Foxes||Director|
|1968||Plaza Suite||Director||Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play|
|1971||The Prisoner of Second Avenue||Director||Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play|
|1973||Uncle Vanya||Director||Nominated–Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play|
|1976||Streamers||Director||Nominated–Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play|
|1976||Comedians||Director||Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play|
Nominated–Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play
|1977||Annie||Producer||Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical|
Tony Award for Best Musical
|1977||The Gin Game||Director and producer||Nominated–Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play|
Nominated–Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play
Nominated–Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play
Nominated–Tony Award for Best Play
|1980||Billy Bishop Goes to War||Producer|
|1981||Grown Ups||Producer||Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play|
|1984||The Real Thing||Director||Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play|
Nominated–Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play
|1992||Death and the Maiden||Director|
|2003||The Play What I Wrote||Producer||Nominated–Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience|
Nominated–Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event
|2004||Whoopi||Producer||Nominated–Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event|
|2005||Spamalot||Director||Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical|
Nominated–Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical
|2008||The Country Girl||Director|
|2012||Death of a Salesman||Director||Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play|
Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play
|1966||Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?||13||5||7||0|
|1968||Teach Me! (Short)|
|1973||The Day of the Dolphin||2||0||1||0|
|1980||Gilda Live (Documentary)|
|1990||Postcards from the Edge||2||0||3||0|
|2000||What Planet Are You From?|
|2003||Angels in America (TV)||n/a||n/a||7||5|
|2007||Charlie Wilson's War||1||0||5||0|
Nichols's golden touch was intact. He pulled it off. Virginia Woolf was a critical success and, more important to the studio, a financial success.
Nichols and his third wife, Annabel Davis-Goff, who were married between 1975 and 1986, had two children: a daughter, Jenny, now around 32, and a son, Max, now 35.Davis-Goff is of Irish Protestant background and she has become a well known novelist in the last two decades.
Angels in America is a 2003 American HBO miniseries directed by Mike Nichols and based on the Pulitzer-prize winning play by the same name by Tony Kushner. Set in 1985, the film revolves around six New Yorkers whose lives intersect. At its core, it is the fantastical story of Prior Walter, a gay man living with AIDS who is visited by an angel. The film explores a wide variety of themes, including Reagan era politics, the spreading AIDS epidemic, and a rapidly changing social and political climate.HBO broadcast the film in various formats: two 3-hour chunks that correspond to Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, as well as six 1-hour "chapters" that roughly correspond to an act or two of each of these plays; the first three chapters ("Bad News," "In Vitro," and "The Messenger") were initially broadcast on December 7, 2003, to international acclaim, with the final three chapters ("Stop Moving!" "Beyond Nelly," and "Heaven, I'm in Heaven") following.
Angels in America was the most-watched made-for-cable film in 2003, and earned much critical acclaim and numerous accolades: at the 56th Primetime Emmy Awards, it became the first (and currently only) program in Emmy history to win in every major eligible category, and won all four acting categories. It also won in all five eligible categories at the 61st Golden Globe Awards. In 2006, The Seattle Times listed the series among "Best of the filmed AIDS portrayals" on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of AIDS.Ann Roth
Ann Roth (born October 30, 1931) is an American costume designer for films and Broadway theatre.Biloxi Blues (film)
Biloxi Blues is a 1988 American comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols, written by Neil Simon, and starring Matthew Broderick and Christopher Walken.
Simon adapted his semi-autobiographical 1985 play of the same title, the second chapter in what is known as the Eugene trilogy, the first being Brighton Beach Memoirs and the third being Broadway Bound.Catch-22 (film)
Catch-22 is a 1970 American black comedy war film adapted from the novel of the same name by Joseph Heller. In creating a black comedy revolving around the "lunatic characters" of Heller's satirical anti-war novel set at a fictional World War II Mediterranean base, director Mike Nichols and screenwriter Buck Henry (also in the cast) worked on the film script for two years, converting Heller's complex novel to the medium of film.
The cast included Alan Arkin, Bob Balaban, Martin Balsam, Richard Benjamin, Italian actress Olimpia Carlisi, French comedian Marcel Dalio, Art Garfunkel (his acting debut), Jack Gilford, Charles Grodin, Bob Newhart, Anthony Perkins, Paula Prentiss, Martin Sheen, Jon Voight, and Orson Welles.Charlie Wilson's War (film)
Charlie Wilson's War is a 2007 American biographical comedy-drama film, based on the story of U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson and CIA operative Gust Avrakotos, whose efforts led to Operation Cyclone, a program to organize and support the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet–Afghan War.
The film was directed by Mike Nichols (his final film) and written by Aaron Sorkin, who adapted George Crile III's 2003 book Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History. Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman starred, with Amy Adams and Ned Beatty in supporting roles. It was nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, but did not win in any category. Hoffman was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.Closer (2004 film)
Closer is a 2004 American romantic drama film written by Patrick Marber, based on his award-winning 1997 play of the same name. The film was produced and directed by Mike Nichols and stars Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, and Clive Owen. The film, like the play on which it is based, has been seen by some as a modern and tragic version of Mozart's opera Così fan tutte, with references to the opera in both the plot and the soundtrack. Owen starred in the play as Dan, the role played by Law in the film.
The film was recognized with a number of awards and nominations, including Oscar nominations and Golden Globe wins for both Portman and Owen for their performances in supporting roles.Gilda Live
Gilda Live is a 1980 American comedy documentary film starring Gilda Radner, directed by Mike Nichols and produced by Lorne Michaels. Radner and Michaels and all of the writers involved with the production were alumni from the television program Saturday Night Live.Nichols and May
Nichols and May was a Grammy Award-winning American improvisational comedy duo act developed by Mike Nichols (1931-2014) and Elaine May (born 1932). Their three comedy albums reached the Billboard Top 40 between 1959 and 1962. Many comedians have cited them as key influences in modern comedy. “You can't get any better than they were," TV host Dick Cavett remembered, "They were one of the comic meteors in the sky.”Postcards from the Edge (film)
Postcards from the Edge is a 1990 American comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols. The screenplay by Carrie Fisher is based on her 1987 semi-autobiographical novel of the same title. The film stars Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, and Dennis Quaid.Primary Colors (film)
Primary Colors is a 1998 American comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols. The screenplay by Elaine May was adapted from the novel Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics, a roman à clef about Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign in 1992, which was originally published anonymously, but in 1996 was revealed to have been written by journalist Joe Klein, who had been covering Clinton's campaign for Newsweek. The film starred John Travolta, Emma Thompson, Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Maura Tierney, Larry Hagman and Adrian Lester.
It was critically acclaimed but was a box office bomb, earning $52 million from a $65 million budget. Bates was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance, and May was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.Regarding Henry
Regarding Henry is a 1991 American drama film directed by Mike Nichols and written by J. J. Abrams. The film stars Harrison Ford as a New York City lawyer from a dysfunctional family who struggles to regain his memory and recover his speech and mobility after he survives a shooting, inadvertently restoring his family's integrity in the process.
The supporting cast includes Annette Bening, Mikki Allen, Bill Nunn, Rebecca Miller, Bruce Altman, and Elizabeth Wilson. The film received mixed reviews, but was nominated in 2006 by the American Film Institute for their 100 Years...100 Cheers list.Sam O'Steen
Samuel Alexander O'Steen (November 6, 1923 – October 11, 2000) was an American film editor and director. He had an extended, notable collaboration with the director Mike Nichols, with whom he edited twelve films between 1966 and 1994. Among the notable films that O'Steen edited were Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (directed by Mike Nichols, 1966), Cool Hand Luke (directed by Stuart Rosenberg, 1967), The Graduate (directed by Mike Nichols, 1967), Rosemary's Baby (directed by Roman Polanski, 1968), and Chinatown (directed by Roman Polanski, 1974).On a 2012 listing of the 75 best edited films of all time, compiled by the Motion Picture Editors Guild based on a survey of its members, both The Graduate and Chinatown appear.Silkwood
Silkwood is a 1983 American biographical drama film directed by Mike Nichols and starring Meryl Streep, Cher and Kurt Russell. The screenplay by Nora Ephron and Alice Arlen was inspired by the life of Karen Silkwood. Silkwood was a nuclear whistleblower and a labor union activist who died in a car collision while investigating alleged wrongdoing at the Kerr-McGee plutonium plant where she worked. In real life, her death gave rise to a 1979 lawsuit, Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee, led by attorney Gerry Spence. The jury rendered its verdict of $10 million in damages to be paid to the Silkwood estate (her children), the largest amount in damages ever awarded for that kind of case at the time. The Silkwood estate eventually settled for $1.3 million.Silkwood was shot largely in both New Mexico and Texas on a budget of $10 million. Factual accuracy was maintained throughout the script, with some incidents exactly parallel to the real-life experiences of Karen Silkwood. One scene in particular involved the activation of a radiation alarm at the plant. Silkwood herself had forty times the legal limit of radioactive contamination in her system. Streep had just finished filming Sophie's Choice (1982) when production began. The film also marked a departure for some of its stars: it is noted for being one of the first "serious" works of Cher, who had been previously known mostly for her singing, and for Russell, who was at the time widely known for his work in the action genre.
The film received positive reviews and was a box office success, with particular attention focused on the performances by the three leads. At the 56th Academy Awards, Silkwood received five nominations in total, including Streep for Best Actress, Cher for Best Supporting Actress, and Nichols for Best Director. After being out of print on DVD in the United States, the film was released on Blu-ray on July 25, 2017.The Birdcage
The Birdcage is a 1996 American comedy film directed by Mike Nichols, written by Elaine May, and starring Robin Williams, Gene Hackman, Nathan Lane, and Dianne Wiest. Dan Futterman, Calista Flockhart, Hank Azaria, and Christine Baranski appear in supporting roles. It is a remake of the 1978 Franco-Italian film La Cage aux Folles by Édouard Molinaro starring Michel Serrault and Ugo Tognazzi.The Day of the Dolphin
The Day of the Dolphin is a 1973 American science-fiction thriller film directed by Mike Nichols and starring George C. Scott. Based on the 1967 novel Un animal doué de raison (lit. A Sentient Animal), by French writer Robert Merle, the screenplay was written by Buck Henry.The Graduate
The Graduate is a 1967 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols and written by Buck Henry and Calder Willingham, based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Charles Webb, who wrote it shortly after graduating from Williams College. The film tells the story of 21-year-old Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), a recent college graduate with no well-defined aim in life, who is seduced by an older woman, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), and then falls in love with her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross).
The film was released on December 22, 1967, received positive reviews and grossed $104.9 million in the U.S. and Canada. With the figures adjusted for inflation, the film's gross is $789 million, making it the 22nd highest-ever grossing film in the U.S. and Canada. It won the Academy Award for Best Director and was nominated in six other categories. In 1996, The Graduate was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." Initially, the film was placed at number 7 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies list in 1998. When AFI revised the list in 2007, the film was moved to number 17.Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (film)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a 1966 American black comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols. The screenplay by Ernest Lehman is an adaptation of the play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee. The film stars Elizabeth Taylor as Martha and Richard Burton as George, with George Segal as Nick and Sandy Dennis as Honey.The film was nominated for thirteen Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Mike Nichols, and is one of only two films to be nominated in every eligible category at the Academy Awards (the other being Cimarron). All of the film's four main actors were nominated in their respective acting categories.
The film won five awards, including a second Academy Award for Best Actress for Elizabeth Taylor and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Sandy Dennis. However, the film lost to A Man for All Seasons for the Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay awards, and both Richard Burton and George Segal failed to win in their categories.
In 2013, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".Wit (film)
Wit is a 2001 American television movie directed by Mike Nichols. The teleplay by Nichols and Emma Thompson is based on the 1999 Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same title by Margaret Edson.
The film was shown at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 9, 2001 before being broadcast by HBO on March 24. It was shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival and the Warsaw Film Festival later in the year.Working Girl
Working Girl is a 1988 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols, written by Kevin Wade, and starring Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver.
The film features a notable opening sequence following Manhattan-bound commuters on the Staten Island Ferry accompanied by Carly Simon's song "Let the River Run", for which she received the Academy Award for Best Song. The film was a box office success, grossing a worldwide total of $103 million.Griffith was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, while both Weaver and Joan Cusack were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The film was also nominated for Academy Award for Best Picture.
Awards for Mike Nichols
listed by duration and year of completion