Mike Nichols, the Oscar-winning director of The Graduate and husband of news anchor Diane Sawyer, has died at the age of 83.
Nichols died suddenly on Wednesday after suffering a cardiac arrest.
ABC News President James Goldston announced the tragedy, writing, “He was a true visionary, winning the highest honors in the arts for his work as a director, writer, producer and comic and was one of a tiny few to win the EGOT-an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony in his lifetime… No one was more passionate about his craft than Mike.”
Born Michael Igor Peschkowsky in Berlin, Germany in 1931, Nichols fled to New York with his family aged seven unable to speak English. He got involved in theater and studied acting before joining a comedy improv group.
In 1963, he earned a Tony Award for his Broadway directorial debut of Barefoot in the Park, and he moved into movies in 1966 by helming the multi Oscar-winning Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Nichols lost out on the Best Director Oscar on that occasion, but he followed it up with a win in 1968 for The Graduate, which also landed him BAFTA and Golden Globe nods.
In the 1970s and ’80s he produced the original Broadway run of musical Annie, which earned him another Tony Award, and helped launched the career of Whoopi Goldberg by creating a one-woman stage show for her in 1984.
He also worked on TV shows and became one of only 12 stars to be honored at the four major awards shows when he won the Emmy Award for the TV movie Wit. He won the same prize again in 2004 for miniseries Angels in America.
Hollywood veterans Steven Spielberg, Kevin Spacey and Julianne Moore have paid tribute to the director.
Director pal Spielberg has now paid a moving tribute, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “Mike was a friend, a muse, a mentor, one of America’s all time greatest film and stage directors, and one of the most generous people I have ever known. For me, The Graduate was life altering… Mike had a brilliant cinematic eye and uncanny hearing for keeping scenes ironic and real. Actors never gave him less than their personal best – and then Mike would get from them even more. And in a room full of people, Mike was always the centre of gravity. This is a seismic loss.”
More tributes poured in on social media from a number of stars including Kevin Spacey, who writes, “Mike Nichols gave me my start. A mentor, friend, colleague. One of the best observers of life. My thoughts are with Diane & his children.”
Mike Nichols gave me my start. A mentor, friend, colleague. One of the best observers of life. My thoughts are with Diane & his children.
— Kevin Spacey (@KevinSpacey) November 20, 2014
Julianne Moore writes, “So very sad to hear of Mike Nichols death. A great talent, a wonderful, bright, charming human being,” and Mia Farrow adds, “Funniest, smartest, most generous, wisest, kindest of all. Mike Nichols, a truly good man.”
So very sad to hear of Mike Nichols death. A great talent, a wonderful, bright, charming human being.
— Julianne Moore (@_juliannemoore) November 20, 2014
Zachary Quinto writes, “We’ve lost a tremendous artist. An arbiter of exquisite taste. A kind and generous man. A mind beyond compare. A heart full of unmitigated joy for life and art. You will be deeply missed sir. Rest in peace”, and Billy Elliot star Jamie Bell adds, “Mike Nichols, your great work endures you. Thank you for all of it. Rest in peace.”
we've lost a tremendous artist. an arbiter of exquisite taste. a kind and generous man. a mind beyond… http://t.co/LLfgFFnBSt
— Zachary Quinto (@ZacharyQuinto) November 20, 2014
Alec Baldwin offers, “There’s one less truly brilliant director in the world today….” and John Leguizamo adds, “R.I.P what a genius… He will b (sic) missed!”
Bob Balaban, Entourage actor Jeremy Piven, director Edgar Wright and Scandal stars Tony Goldwyn and Joshua Malina also penned messages to Nichols.
Nichols leaves his fourth wife, Sawyer, and three children – Daisy, Max and Jenny – from previous marriages. His funeral is due to be held later this week.
Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.