Mike Nichols, the Academy Award-winning director of films like The Graduate and The Birdcage and a nine-time Tony Awards winner, has passed away at the age of 83. Good Morning America reports that the filmmaker died suddenly Wednesday night of cardiac arrest.
Nichols was also the husband of longtime ABC news anchor Diane Sawyer. “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,” ABC News President James Goldston said in the statement. “No one was more passionate about his craft than Mike.”
While Nichols’ long career in the entertainment industry featured multiple Oscar nominations, nine Tony Awards, a Golden Globe, an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award and a tribute at the 2003 Kennedy Center Honors, the first major trophy Nichols received was a Best Comedy Album Grammy, which he won alongside Elaine May in 1961. Nichols and May were a popular comedy duo throughout the Sixties until Nichols opted to pursue both a theatrical and cinematic directorial career.
Beginning with his debut film feature in 1966, an adaptation of Edward Albee’s play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Nichols quickly established himself as one of the film industry’s most adventurous and reliable directors. His next feature was 1967’s landmark The Graduate, the top-earning film of that year and a film on the shortlist of greatest comedies of all time. The film, and its Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack, is still beloved among movie fans. The Graduate was nominated for seven Academy Awards, but it won only one, with Nichols claiming the Oscar for Best Director.
Over the next few decades, Nichols would seamlessly switch off between directing a Broadway show and feature films. Among the more notable films, Nichols directed the film adaptation of Catch-22, the Neil Simon-penned Biloxi Blues, Working Girl, Remains of the Day, the Bill Clinton-inspired political satire Primary Colors, the award-winning HBO miniseries Angels in America and the film version of Patrick Marber’s play Closer, which Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers called “a master class on the art of directing.” His final film was 2007’s Charlie Wilson’s War.
Nichols continued to direct for the stage in recent years. In 2012, at the age of 81, he was awarded the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play for his revival of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. Nichols’ next project was to reunite him with Meryl Streep – with whom the director worked with on Silkwood, Postcards From the Edge and Heartburn – for an upcoming HBO miniseries called Master Class, an adaptation of Terrence McNally’s Tony-winning script.