Director Mike Nichols is pictured with Tom Hanks on the set of the 2007 comic-drama, "Charlie Wilson's War."
The Oscar- and Tony-winning director whose Broadway and Hollywood career spanned more than five decades, and whose roster of classics includes "The Graduate," "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," "Silkwood," "The Real Thing," "Annie," and "Monty Python's Spamalot," died on Wed., November 19, 2014, at the age of 83.
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan
Nichols and May
Born Michael Igor Peschkowsky on Nov. 6, 1931, in Berlin, Mike Nichols' family fled Nazi Germany when he was 7 years old. Settling in America, he recalled to the AP in 1996 that at the time, he could say only two things in English: "I don't speak English" and "Please don't kiss me."
Nichols fell in love with the stage at 15 when he attended "A Streetcar Named Desire" starring Marlon Brando in 1947. "It was so shocking. It was so alive. It was so real," he said.
Studying acting in New York and Chicago, he teamed up with Elaine May at the Compass Players comic troupe (a precursor to Second City). Their improvisational rapport led to the acclaimed stage show, "An Evening With Mike Nichols and Elaine May" (1960), and to the Grammy Award-winning comedy recording.
"Barefoot In The Park"
Mike Nichols won the Tony Award for directing his very first play: Neil Simon's "Barefoot In the Park" (1963), starring Elizabeth Ashley, Robert Redford, Mildred Natwick and Kurt Kasznar.
A Broadway Powerhouse
Over the next 50 years Nichols directed some of the most successful and acclaimed comedies and dramas on the New York stage, premiering important new works by Neil Simon, Tom Stoppard, David Rabe and Ariel Dorfman, and also scoring with revivals of works by Arthur Miller and Harold Pinter.
He earned seven more Tonys for Best Direction, for "The Odd Couple," "Luv," "Plaza Suite," "The Prisoner of Second Avenue," "The Real Thing," "Monty Python's Spamalot," and the 2012 revival of "Death of a Salesman."
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
For his first feature film, Mike Nichols directed two Hollywood powerhouses - Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton - in Edward Albee's tale of a tortured marriage, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966). The film, which costarred George Segal and Sandy Dennis, was nominated for 13 Academy Awards (including Best Director and Best Picture), and won five Oscars.
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Mike Nichols (far left) directs Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton on the set of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Dustin Hoffman starred as Benjamin Braddock, whose search for direction in life leads him into the bedroom of on older women in the satiric drama, "The Graduate." The film, directed by Mike Nichols and written by Buck Henry, made a star of Hoffman in his breakout role, and encapsulated the cultural turmoil of the late '60s in a tale of middle-class conventions, adultery and youthful rebellion.
Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate."
The film, nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress (Katharine Ross), won the Best Director Oscar for Nichols.
Following the success of "The Graduate," Mike Nichols directed the film adaptation of Joseph Heller's black comic novel, "Catch-22." Adapted by "Graduate" screenwriter Buck Henry, the film starred Alan Arkin as Captain Yossarian, it had the bad fortune of being released the same year as another satire of war, "MASH."
Mike Nichols directed the Jules Feiffer screenplay for "Carnal Knowledge" (1971), which examines the sexual mores of two college friends over the course of 25 years. The film starred Jack Nicholson, Art Garfunkel, Ann-Margret (winner of the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress), Candice Bergen, Rita Moreno and Carol Kane.
In the Roaring '20s farce "The Fortune" (1975), Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty play two con men out to steal the fortune of a young heiress (played by Stockard Channing). Though it received positive reviews, the film failed at the box office.
Mike Nichols produced the 1997 Broadway production of "Annie," starring Andrea McArdle, which won the Tony Award for Best Musical.
Meryl Streep starred in "Silkwood" (1983), Mike Nichols' true-life drama about Karen Silkwood, who became a whistleblower over safety violations at the nuclear fuel facility where she worked. Nichols received his third Best Director Oscar nomination.
Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson both reteamed with Nichols for the 1986 comic-drama "Heartburn," based on Nora Ephron's novel, which was inspired by her marriage of journalist Carl Bernstein.
Like Dustin Hoffman in "The Graduate," Melanie Griffith shot to stardom in the 1988 romantic comedy "Working Girl," about a secretary who steps into the shoes of her incapacitated Wall Street boss, showing her moxie and stealing the boss' boyfriend (Harrison Ford). The film was up for six Oscars, including Best Director and Best Picture.
"Postcards From the Edge"
Meryl Streep's third film with director Mike Nichols was 1990's "Postcards From the Edge," based on Carrie Fisher's novel about an actress-singer-recovering addict (Streep) and her tempestuous relationship with her mother (Shirley MacLaine).
Harrison Ford (with Annette Bening and Mikki Allen) played a lawyer on the long road to recovery after surviving a near-fatal shooting in Mike Nichols' "Regarding Henry" (1991).
"The Remains of the Day"
Among the projects that Mike Nichols produced was the 1993 film "The Remains of the Day," based on Kazuo Ishiguro's novel. The story of a repressed English butler starred Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Christopher Reeve and Hugh Grant.
Nichols also produced the film version of Wallace Shawn's play, "The Designated Mourner" (1997) in which he also starred opposite Miranda Richardson.
A rare entry into genre filmmaking (particularly after the critical drubbing Nichols received for his science fiction fable "The Day of the Dolphin"), "Wolf" (1994) starred Jack Nicholson as a book publisher who is bitten by a wolf and subsequently suffers the usual werewolf trappings - transformative powers, superhuman strength, and becoming irresistibly attractive to Michelle Pfeiffer.
A remake of the French farce "La Cage aux Folles," "The Birdcage" (1996) starred Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as gay couple Armand and Albert, the manager and star attraction of a drag club in Florida. When Armand's son arranges a meeting with his fiance's family - her dad (Gene Hackman) is a staunchly conservative Senator and co-founder of the Coalition for Moral Order - complications ensue.
John Travolta and Emma Thompson star as Gov. Jack Stanton and his wife Susan in "Primary Colors," adapted from Joe Klein's roman a clef about the Clintons' 1992 presidential campaign.
The script, adapted by Nichols' former comedy partner Elaine May, was nominated for an Oscar, as was Kathy Bates for Best Supporting Actress.
Emma Thompson starred in the 2001 TV movie "Wit," from Margaret Edson's play about a woman diagnosed with terminal cancer.
"Angels in America"
Mick Nichols directs Emma Thompson on the set of the HBO mini-series "Angels in America," based on Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning plays about public and political reaction to the AIDS crisis in 1980s America.
The production won 11 Emmy Awards (including for Nichols, for Best Direction of a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special), and five Golden Globes.
Emmy Award-winners Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Mike Nichols, for the miniseries "Angels in America," pose backstage during the 56th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium September 19, 2004 in Los Angeles, Calif.
Adapted from Patrick Marber's play - itself a modern-day take on the tragic opera "Cosi fan tutte" - "Closer" (2004) follows the romantic entanglements and betrayals of two couples in London, played by Clive Owen, Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts and Jude Law.
Natalie Portman as a stripper, and Clive Owen as a man obsessed, in Mike Nichols' "Closer.
"Monty Python's Spamalot"
Director Mike Nichols takes a bow along with actor Tim Curry during the opening night curtain call for "Monty Python's Spamalot," at the Shubert Theatre March 17, 2005 in New York City.
The comic romp, "lovingly ripped off" from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," won three Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Direction (Nichols), and Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Sara Ramirez).
"Spamalot" director Mike Nichols and his wife, journalist Diane Sawyer, attend the 59th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall, June 5, 2005 in New York City.
"Charlie Wilson's War"
Based on a true story, "Charlie Wilson's War" (2007) starred Tom Hanks as a U.S. Congressman who enlists the aid of a CIA agent (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) and a Texas socialite (Julia Roberts) to funnel arms to Afghan rebels during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
"Charlie Wilson's War"
Director Mike Nichols on the the set of "Charlie Wilson's War."
"Charlie Wilson's War"
Director Mike Nichols with Julia Roberts as Houston socialite Joanne Herring on the set of "Charlie Wilson's War."
Journalist Diane Sawyer and honoree Mike Nichols arrive for the the 38th AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Nichols, held at Sony Pictures Studios on June 10, 2010 in Culver City, California.
Honoree Mike Nichols and journalist Diane Sawyer during the 38th AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Nichols held at Sony Pictures Studios on June 10, 2010 in Culver City, California.
Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) leads Elaine Robinson (Katharine Ross) from the altar in "The Graduate."
Director Mike Nichols died on Wed., Nov. 19, 2014 at the age of 83.