Mike Nichols

Director, Producer, Comedian
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 ... Read more »
Born: 11/05/1931 in Berlin, DE

Filmography

Actor (31)

Inventing David Geffen 2012 - 2013 (TV Show)

Actor

The 34th Annual Kennedy Center Honors 2011 - 2012 (TV Show)

Presenter

Faces of America with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 2009 - 2010 (TV Show)

Actor

Julia Roberts: American Cinematheque Tribute 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Actor

The 62nd Annual Golden Globe Awards 2004 - 2005 (TV Show)

Actor

Catch-22 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Inside the Actors Studio 1994 - 1997 (Tv Show)

Interviewee

The Designated Mourner 1997 (Movie)

Jack (Actor)

Nichols and May -- Take Two 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

The 8th Annual American Comedy Awards 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

Richard Burton: In From the Cold 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Neil Simon: Not Just For Laughs 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

The 39th Annual Tony Awards 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

A Last Laugh at the 60's 1969 - 1970 (TV Show)

Actor

Jack Paar Presents 1959 - 1960 (TV Show)

Actor

The Jack Paar Special 1959 - 1960 (TV Show)

Actor
Producer (21)

Wicked Tuna: North vs. South 2013 - 2015 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

The Wil Wheaton Project 2013 - 2014 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

Wicked Tuna 1994 - 1997, 2011 - 2014 (Tv Show)

Executive Producer

Friends With Kids 2012 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

My Dad is Better Than Your Dad 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

Whoopi: Back To Broadway - The 20th Anniversary 2004 - 2005 (TV Show)

Producer

Closer 2004 (Movie)

(Producer)

What Planet Are You From? 2000 (Movie)

(Producer)

Primary Colors 1998 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Birdcage 1996 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Remains of the Day 1993 (Movie)

(Producer)

Regarding Henry 1991 (Movie)

(Producer)

Postcards From the Edge 1990 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Thorns 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

Heartburn 1986 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Longshot 1986 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Silkwood 1983 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Fortune 1975 (Movie)

(Producer)

Carnal Knowledge 1971 (Movie)

(Producer)

Angels in America (TV Show)

Executive Producer

Family (TV Show)

Executive Producer
Director (21)

Charlie Wilson's War 2007 (Movie)

(Director)

Closer 2004 (Movie)

(Director)

What Planet Are You From? 2000 (Movie)

(Director)

Primary Colors 1998 (Movie)

(Director)

The Birdcage 1996 (Movie)

(Director)

Wolf 1994 (Movie)

(Director)

Regarding Henry 1991 (Movie)

(Director)

Postcards From the Edge 1990 (Movie)

(Director)

Biloxi Blues 1988 (Movie)

(Director)

Working Girl 1988 (Movie)

(Director)

Heartburn 1986 (Movie)

(Director)

Silkwood 1983 (Movie)

(Director)

Annie 1982 (Movie)

("Annie" New York stage production) (Director)

Gilda Live 1980 (Movie)

(Director)

The Fortune 1975 (Movie)

(Director)

The Day of the Dolphin 1973 (Movie)

(Director)

Carnal Knowledge 1971 (Movie)

(Director)

Catch-22 1970 (Movie)

(Director)

The Graduate 1967 (Movie)

(Director)

Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? 1966 (Movie)

(Director)

Wit (TV Show)

Director
Writer (1)

Working Girl 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Story By

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 "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.

Relationships

Margo Callas

Wife
Married in 1963 Divorced in 1974

Annabel Davis-Goff Script Supervisor

Wife
Married in 1975 Divorced in 1986

Hedwig Lachmann

Grandmother
Translated original Oscar Wilde play and wrote libretto to Richard Strauss' opera "Salome"

Gustav Landauer

Grandfather

Elaine May Actor

Companion
Met 1954 while both were living in Chicago Had brief romance before forming their famous on comedy partnership Professionally parted ways 1961

Daisy Nichols Actor

Daughter
Born in 1964; mother, Margo Callas

Jenny Nichols Actor

Daughter
Born in 1977; mother, Anabel Davis-Goff

Max Nichols

Son
Born Dec. 9, 1973; mother, Anabel Davis-Goff

Robert Nichols

Brother
Born c. 1936

Nicholaievitch Peschowsky

Father
Russian-born; moved to Germany after the 1917 Russian Revolution Moved to NYC in 1938 to escape the Nazis Died of leukemia c. 1942

Brigitte Peschowsky

Mother
German; born c. 1908 Emigrated to the U.S. in 1941 Had remained in Germany because of illness and marital problems

Diane Sawyer Actor

Wife
Met in 1986 Married April 29, 1988 in New York

Patricia Scott

Wife
Married June 8, 1957 Divorced in 1960

EDUCATION

University of Chicago

Chicago , Illinois 1950 - 1953
Met author Susan Sontag at registration; later met Elaine May through Paul Sills; dropped out of school in 1953

Studied acting with Lee Strasberg in 1954

Walden School

New York , New York 1948
Progressive high school

Dalton School

New York , New York
Classmates included Buck Henry

Milestones

2007

Helmed "Charlie Wilson's War" about Democratic Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson, played by Tom Hanks; re-teamed with Roberts

2005

Produced "Whoopi, the 20th Anniversary Show," Whoopi Goldberg's return to the stage; earned a Tony nomination for Best Special Theatrical Event

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 o

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

2003

Directed the HBO adaptation of Tony Kushner's epic "Angels in America"

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

2000

Produced and directed "What Planet Are You From?"

1999

Honored with a tribute by the Film Society of Lincoln Center (May 3)

1998

Again teamed with May, helming her script for the film version of the political satire "Primary Colors"

1997

Film acting debut, reprised role in David Hare's film of "The Designated Mourner"

1996

London stage acting debut, "The Designated Mourner"

1996

First film collaboration with Elaine May, "The Birdcage," a loose remake of "La cage aux folles"; teaming Robin Williams and Nathan Lane

1994

Reunited with Jack Nicholson for "Wolf"

1993

As one of the producers, shared Best Picture Oscar nomination for "The Remains of the Day"

1992

Directed "Death and the Maiden" on Broadway; starred Glenn Close, Gene Hackman and Richard Dreyfuss

1991

Directed Harrison Ford in "Regarding Henry"

1990

Third film with Streep, "Postcards From the Edge"

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

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"

1986

Executive produced "The Long Shot"; helmed by Paul Bartel

1986

Reteamed with Streep and Nicholson for "Heartburn"; adapted from Nora Ephron's novel

1984

Produced and served as production supervisor on the one-person show "Whoopi Goldberg"

1984

Staged Tom Stoppard's play "The Real Thing"; won Tony Award

1983

Picked up third Best Director Oscar nomination for "Silkwood" starring Meryl Streep

1980

Directed the concert film "Gilda Live"

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)

1977

Produced first stage musical, "Annie"

1977

Staged the Pulitzer-winning two-character comedy-drama "The Gin Game" starring Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn

1976

Executive produced the ABC drama series "Family"

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"

1973

Helmed "The Day of the Dolphin"

1972

Was director of the Neil Simon play "The Prisoner of Second Avenue"; won Tony Award

1970

Feature producing debut, "Carnal Knowledge"; also directed

1969

Directed the screen adaptation of Joseph Heller's comic novel "Catch-22"

1968

Reunited with Simon on "Plaza Suite"; picked up Tony Award

1967

Earned Best Director Oscar for "The Graduate"

1966

Feature film directing debut, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"; received first Academy Award nomination as Best Director

1965

Enjoyed two stage successes with "Luv" and Simon's "The Odd Couple"; earned second Tony Award for direction of both

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

1962

Was one of the writers for the variety special "Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall" (CBS), featuring Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett

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

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

1959

TV debut as panelist on "Laugh Line"

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"

1955

With Elaine May, Alan Arkin, Barbara Harris and Paul Sills, formed improvisational group The Compass Players (later Second City)

1954

After dropping out of college, moved to NYC to study acting with Lee Strasberg; returned to Chicago after just about a year

1948

Attended a performance of the Broadway play "A Streetcar Named Desire" and decided he had to "be around theatre"

1942

Certified as a "genius" at age 12

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

1936

At age four, had a bad reaction to a defective whopping-cough vaccine that left him permanently denuded

Formed a comedy trio with May and Shelley Berman

Born in Berlin

While attending the University of Chicago, directed first stage play, a student production of "Purgatory"; starring Edward Asner

Bonus Trivia

.

Nichols formed Icarus Productions.

.

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

.

Nichols was presented with the 2002 National Medal of Arts by 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 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 Feb. 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 Feb. 28, 2000

.

"He's not as generous to himself as he deserves to be. He's got a voice in him that's very harsh, and unnecessarily so." - Bening quoted in a profile of Nichols written by John Lahr in The New Yorker, Feb. 28, 2000

SIMILAR ARTICLES