Mike Nichols, the celebrated comedian and director who achieved the rare feat of winning Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards in his lifetime, has died. Nichols was 83.
His death was announced this morning by the president of ABC News.
Nichols had been married for the past 26 years to ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer. He first burst into our collective consciousness via another professional partnership, as one-half of the brilliant duo Nichols and May, with Elaine May. Nichols and May discovered their witty repartee as members of The Compass Players in Chicago in the 1950s.
But first he had to escape the Nazis.
Nichols was born Mikhail Igor Peschkowsky on Nov. 6, 1931, in Berlin. Mike and his younger brother were sent to the United States in 1938, fleeing with and meeting up with their Jewish parents before the Nazis could round them up.
In 1955, Nichols was in Chicago, pursuing acting and improv theater more than his classes at the University of Chicago, where he formed a duo with May and also performed in The Compass Players — whose members in those pre-Second City days also included Del Close and Shelley Berman. Nichols and May produced three hit albums together, with “An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May” winning the Grammy for Best Comedy Album in 1962.
By that time, Nichols already had moved his act to Broadway, where he was finding even more success as a director. His multiple Tony Awards include directing productions of “Barefoot in the Park” and “The Odd Couple,” and later for musicals “Annie” and “Spamalot.” In 1968, he won the Academy Award for directing his second film, The Graduate. His Emmys came in 2001 for the TV movie Wit, and in 2004 for Angels in America.