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Mike Nichols

Mike Nichols, born Michael Igor Peschkowsky, was born in Berlin, Germany, of a Russian father and German mother. His family immigrated to the United States when he was seven. His father changed the family's name to Nichols, his patronymic, because he was a doctor and he said that by the time he spelled his name, the patient was in the hospital. Mike was brought up in New York City. He attended the University of Chicago where, together with Elaine May and Paul Sills, he was one of the founding members of the comedy group The Compass, later renamed Second City.

In 1957, the now legendary team of Mike Nichols and Elaine May was formed. Starting at the Blue Angel in New York, they performed in nightclubs all over the country. Nichols and May did numerous TV specials and appeared as guests on such shows as Omnibus, The Dinah Shore Show and The Jack Paar Program. In 1960, they brought An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May to Broadway, where it ran for a year. They were still selling out when they decided to end the run and pursue separate careers. At this point, Nichols turned to directing.

When producer Saint Subber offered him Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park, Nichols asked to employ a young actor he had seen on television the week before, whose name he had not caught. The name was Redford. Robert Redford starred in Barefoot in the Park, along with Elizabeth Ashley and Mildred Natwick. Nichols won his first of eight Tony Awards for Barefoot. He then directed an unprecedented string of hits that included The Knack, Luv (Best Director Tony), The Odd Couple (Best Director Tony), The Apple Tree, Plaza Suite (Best Director Tony), The Prisoner of Second Avenue (Best Director Tony), The Gin Game (1978 Pulitzer Prize) and Streamers (New York Drama Critics Award). He directed highly successful revivals of The Little Foxes and Uncle Vanya and the U.S. productions of Comedians, as well as The Real Thing (Best Director Tony), Hurlyburly and Waiting for Godot. Most recently, he directed the Tony Award-winning, smash musical Spamalot. As a theatrical producer, he presented Whoopi Goldberg: Direct From Broadway and won the Tony for his blockbuster show Annie.

Nichols directed his first film in 1966, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director, and for which Elizabeth Taylor won an Academy Award for Best Actress. In 1967, he directed The Graduate, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Director, the Directors Guild Award and the New York Film Critics Award. His subsequent films include Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge, Silkwood (Best Director Academy Award nomination), Working Girl (Best Director Academy Award nomination), Postcards From the Edge, Regarding Henry and Wolf. He was reunited with Elaine May on The Birdcage and Primary Colors, both of which May wrote and Nichols produced and directed. In 2004, Nichols directed Closer, for which Natalie Portman and Clive Owen both won Golden Globe Awards and were nominated for Academy Awards. His television movies Wit (2001) and Angels in America (2004) each won Emmy Awards for Outstanding Direction, Outstanding Made for Television Movie and Outstanding Miniseries.

In 1987, Nichols received the George Abbott Award and, in 1990, was honored by the American Museum of the Moving Image for his contribution to the film industry. In May of 1999, he was honored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center. He has received the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honors Award, and he is one of a small group of people to have won all four major awards in American show business: the Grammy, Emmy, Tony and Oscar. He is married to journalist Diane Sawyer and has three children from former marriages. Mr. Nichols lives in New York City.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2008.
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Mike Nichols Facts

Birth NameMichael Igor Peschkowsky
OccupationDirector, Producer
BirthdayNovember 6, 1931 (92)
BirthplaceBerlin, Germany
Awards2004 Emmy Awards: Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special (for Angels in America)
1968 Academy Awards: Best Director (for The Graduate)
1968 Golden Globe Awards: Best Director - Motion Picture (for The Graduate)

Selected Filmography

The Birdcage
Angels in America, Part 1
The Graduate
Postcards From The Edge
Regarding Henry
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