Mike Nichols, director of film and Broadway, died suddenly last night of a heart attack. He was 83.
Born in Germany, Nichols was sent to America along with his brother in 1938 as anti-Semitic measures against Jews intensified.
Nichols would study medicine, but his real passion was the theater and through the theater would meet Elaine May. They would come to national prominence in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s as the comedy duo Nichols & May.
When Nichols & May went their separate ways, Nichols embarked upon a career as a director and would win Tony Awards for his direction of two Neil Simon plays – Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple. On the strength of these two plays, in 1966 Nichols was invited to direct Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. It, too, became a smash and earned him a Best Director nomination. A year later, Nichols would direct an unknown Dustin Hoffman to stardom in The Graduate which would win Best Picture and win Nichols Best Director accolades.
Nichols also directed films such as Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge, Silkwood, Working Girl, Postcards on the Edge, The Birdcage (which would reunite him with May), Primary Colors and Closer. He would direct his final film Charlie Wilson’s War starring Tom Hanks in 2007. Nichols continued to direct on Broadway and would earn another Tony in 2012 for his revival of Death of a Salesman. At the time of his death he had begun work on adapting Terence McNally’s Master Class for a film to air on HBO. Master Class is about the life of opera singer Maria Callas and would have reunited him with Meryl Streep.
I did not know Nichols was a distant cousin of Albert Einstein.
I leave you with Nichols & May chatting by the watercooler (with an introduction by Henry Fonda).