The comic, writer, and director Mike Nichols has died:
Mike Nichols, who emerged in the late 1950s as half of a groundbreaking satirical comedy team and found his true calling in the next decade as director of the landmark films “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “The Graduate,” has died. He was 83.
Nichols, who was married to ABC News’ Diane Sawyer, died Wednesday night, ABC News President James Goldston announced. His representative, Leslee Dart, told The Times that Nichols suffered a cardiac arrest at his home in New York.
Along with Elaine May, Nichols created two-person character sketches that deftly ridiculed the neuroses and pretensions of American life during the Eisenhower and Kennedy eras. Their Grammy Award-winning partnership peaked in a 1960-61 Broadway run of “An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May,” then the duo parted ways and he changed course.
As a director over the next five decades, he won an Oscar and multiple Tony and Emmy awards while amassing a string of movie credits that includes “Catch-22,” “Carnal Knowledge,” “Silkwood,” “Working Girl” and “The Birdcage.”
Many of the obits mention that Mr. Nichols was a member of a select club: people who’d won a Grammy, and Oscar, a Tony, and an Emmy. Too infrequently when mentioning others who are among that number one name is not mentioned so I’ll do it here: Rita Moreno.
The first time I ever heard of Mike Nichols was from my mom and dad. Every week my mom and dad made a point of getting away from the house and children and going on a real date. Sometimes they went out to dinner. Sometimes they went to a movie. Other times they went to see live acts at Gaslight Square, a nightclub district in St. Louis now long gone, which I’ve written about before.
One night they came home from an evening at Gaslight Square raving about the wonderful comedy team they’d just seen: Nichols and May. These were Mike Nichols and Elaine May. They were cerebral, funny, incisive, and not blue, as even back then live comedy was increasingly becoming.
I have seen plays directed by Mr. Nichols on stage (Luv, Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, all of which I still quote), his movies on the screen, and heard his records but, sadly, I never saw him perform live. Here’s a video (I think from the Jack Paar show) of Nichols and May: