Director, Producer, Writer. Nichols, who was one of a very few to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony in his lifetime, was born Michael Igor Peschkowsky, and came to the United States when he was 7 years old, when his family escaped Nazi Germany. He pursued theater while attending the University of Chicago in the early 1950s, when he joined the improv group the Compass Players and met actress Elaine May. They became a successful comedy duo, appearing in nightclubs and on television before taking their act to Broadway in 1960 with 'An Evening With Mike Nichols and Elaine May'. His Grammy came in 1961 for the original cast recording of that Broadway show. The duo parted ways in 1962, and Nichols shifted to helming theater productions, winning eight directing Tonys over the course of his career, including 'Barefoot in the Park' (1963), 'The Odd Couple' (1965) and 'The Prisoner of Second Avenue' (1971). After his stage successes, he got his start directing film features when Elizabeth Taylor wanted him to direct 'Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' in 1966. The film earned 13 Academy Award nominations, including a directing bid for Nichols and acting nominations for the four stars. Taylor picked up the actress trophy, and Sandy Dennis won for supporting actress. He won his only directing Oscar the following year for his second film, 'The Graduate', which received six other Oscar nominations, quickly raising him to the ranks of top directors and becoming the first director to be paid $1 million for directing a movie. During the 1970s, he directed few a films, focusing instead on the stage where he produced the Tony-winning 'Annie' in 1977 and directed several other plays. In 1983, he returned to filmmaking with 'Silkwood', followed by 'Heartburn' (1986), “Biloxi Blues' and 'Working Girl' (both 1988) and worked steadily in films during the 1990s, with 'Postcards From the Edge' (1990), 'Regarding Henry' (1991), 'Wolf' (1994), 'The Birdcage' (1996) and 'Primary Colors' (1998). In 2001, he turned his attention to the small screen with HBO’s 'Wit', which earned him his first Emmys, one for directing and one as exec producer. In 2004, he returned to the big screen with 'Closer', then jumped back to the stage to direct Monty Python's 'Spamalot', which earned him another directing Tony. Nichols’ last feature film was 2007s political drama, 'Charlie Wilson’s War'. He returned to Broadway in 2012, directing a revival of 'Death of a Salesman', which won the Tony for best revival and Nichols collected yet another directing award. Nichols, who was married to newscaster Diane Sawyer, was honored by the Directors Guild of America with a lifetime achievement laurel in 2000, was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts National medal in 2001 and received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003. In 2010, he received AFI’s life achievement award.
Bio by: Louis du Mort
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