|Birth Day:||November 6, 1931|
|Death Date:||Nov 20, 2014 (age 83)|
|Birth Place:||Berlin, Germany|
As per our current Database, Mike Nichols died on Nov 20, 2014 (age 83).
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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 joined the family by escaping through Italy in 1940. The family moved to New York City on April 28, 1939. His father, whose original name was Pavel Nikolaevich Peschkowsky, changed his name to Paul Nichols, Nichols derived from his Russian patronymic. Before 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.
Nichols' youth was difficult because by age 4, following an inoculation for whooping cough, he had lost his hair, and consequently wore wigs and false eyebrows 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.
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.
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," while talk show host Dick Cavett said "they were one of the comic meteors in the sky." Comedy historian Gerald Nachman describes the effect of their break-up on American comedy:
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 directing 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 for which he received a fee of $400,000. The film was critically acclaimed, with critics calling Nichols "the new Orson Welles", and a financial success, the number 1 film of 1966.
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.
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.
In 1969 his film production company, Friwaftt, was acquired by Avco Embassy, the distributor of The Graduate, who also appointed him to the board of directors. Friwaftt stood for Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
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' 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' 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. None of his wives was Jewish and his children were not brought up according to a religion, but they identify as Jewish. His son Max married ESPN journalist Rachel Nichols.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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".
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:
His next film was The Graduate (1967), starring Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft and Katharine Ross for which he was paid $150,000, a deal he had made four years earlier with producer Joseph E. Levine. It became the highest-grossing film of 1967 and one of the highest-grossing films in history up to that date, with Nichols receiving 16⅔% of the profits, making him a millionaire. 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).
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 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 died of a heart attack on November 19, 2014, at his apartment in Manhattan, nearly two weeks after his 83rd birthday. During the 87th annual Academy Awards on 22 February 2015, Nichols was featured in the In Memoriam segment, in anchor position. Nichols left John Frederick Herring Sr.'s painting "Horse with Groom" to his son Max.
When Nichols died, many artists in film spoke and paid tribute to him, including Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey and Tom Stoppard. On November 8, 2014, at an undisclosed location, stars and artists paid tribute to Nichols. Hosts for the private event included Elaine May and Lorne Michaels. Eric Idle and John Cleese performed. Guests included Streep, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Natalie Portman, Carly Simon, Nathan Lane and Christine Baranski.
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.
In 2017, during an Oscars Actress Roundtable with The Hollywood Reporter, Amy Adams, Natalie Portman, and Annette Bening spoke about the impact Nichols had on their lives.
Currently, Mike Nichols is 89 years, 11 months and 11 days old. Mike Nichols will celebrate 90th birthday on a Saturday 6th of November 2021.
Find out about Mike Nichols birthday activities in timeline view here.