Mike Nichols - Biography - IMDb
Mike Nichols Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (4)  | Trade Mark (1)  | Trivia (51)  | Personal Quotes (18)  | Salary (5)

Overview (4)

Born in Berlin, Germany
Died in Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameMikhail Igor Peschkowsky
Height 5' 11" (1.8 m)

Mini Bio (1)

He, along with the other members of the "Compass Players" including Elaine May, Paul Sills, Byrne Piven, Joyce Hiller Piven and Edward Asner helped start the famed "Second City Improv" company. They used the games taught to them by fellow cast mate, Paul Sills 's mother, Viola Spolin. He later worked in legitimate theater as an actor before entering into a very successful comedy duo with Elaine May. The two were known as "the world's fastest humans".

- IMDb Mini Biography By: <goldstein@mpipf-muenchen.mpg.de>

Spouse (4)

Diane Sawyer (29 April 1988 - 19 November 2014) (his death)
Annabel Davis-Goff (24 July 1976 - 1988) (divorced) (2 children)
Margot Callas (July 1963 - 1974) (divorced) (1 child)
Patricia Scot (4 June 1957 - 1960) (divorced)

Trade Mark (1)

Often includes extremely long starting and/or ending shots taken from high in the air, for example Working Girl (1988) and Angels in America (2003).

Trivia (51)

In Berlin, Germany (from whence the family later fled due to the rise of Nazism), Nichols' father was part of a young intellectual circle that included Russian immigrants such as Vladimir Nabokov's sister and Boris Pasternak's parents.
He and his younger brother, Robert, fled Berlin, Nazi Germany for the USA in April 1939 due to increasing Nazi atrocities. Their father had already relocated there some years back. The young boys arrived on April 28, 1939 in New York City, where their father, now known as Paul Nichols, had set up a medical practice and become a successful medical practitioner. The boys' mother was reunited with her family the following year in 1940.
One of the Directors Guild of America's annual Honorees in 2000.
One of only 15 individuals who are "EGOT"s, meaning having received at least one of all of the four major entertainment awards: an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony, competitively. The other recipients are Richard Rodgers, Helen Hayes, Rita Moreno, John Gielgud, Audrey Hepburn, Marvin Hamlisch, Jonathan Tunick, Mel Brooks, Whoopi Goldberg, Scott Rudin, Robert Lopez, John Legend, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Six others (including Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, James Earl Jones, Alan Menken, Harry Belafonte, and Quincy Jones) have won three of the four awards competitively and received an honorary fourth and thus do not, strictly speaking, qualify.
One of 5 recipients of the 2003 Kennedy Center Honors; other recipients were James Brown, Carol Burnett, Loretta Lynn and Itzhak Perlman.
Lost much of his body hair in his early teen years due to a bad batch of whooping cough vaccine.
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume Two, 1945-1985". Pages 704-710. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1988.
Directed Postcards from the Edge (1990), which was written by Carrie Fisher and based on her relationship with her real-life mother, Debbie Reynolds. He later directed Closer (2004), with featured Fisher's on-screen Star Wars mother, Natalie Portman.
According to Jack Nicholson's April 1972 Playboy Magazine interview, Nichols asked Nicholson and other cast members not to smoke marijuana while filming Carnal Knowledge (1971) on location in Vancouver, British Columbia, where cannabis was easily available. Nichols thought that it dulled an actor's performance.
Worked at the Howard Johnson's restaurant in New York's Times Square when he was 17 years old.
Father of Daisy Nichols (born in 1964), Max Nichols (born in 1974) and Jenny Nichols (born in 1977).
From the early 1960s until his death, he was a well-known figure among Arabian Horse fans - as a breeder of over 400 registered Arabians, including owning and breeding many US National Champion horses.
Received the first straight $1,000,000 director's salary for Catch-22 (1970). When percentages were figured in, Nichols was the first director to earn $1,000,000, combination salary and percentage of net or gross, from a single film, for The Graduate (1967).
He was awarded the American National Medal of the Arts in 2001 by the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington D.C.
Two of his films are on the American Film Institute's 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All time. They are Working Girl (1988) at #87 and Silkwood (1983) at #66.
Was interested in directing First Blood (1982) with Dustin Hoffman as John Rambo.
Attended the University of Chicago where he became close friends with fellow student Susan Sontag (then Susan Rosenblatt).
Formed a comedy team with Elaine May, appearing in nightclubs, on radio and television and most notably at President Jimmy Carter's inauguration gala.
Taught occasionally at The New Actor's Workship in New York City.
Father-in-law of ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols.
When he won his Oscar as Best Director for The Graduate (1967), the statuette was presented to him by actress Leslie Caron.
Had cardiac bypass surgery in New York in 2008, from which he appeared to recover fully.
In April 2009, Nichols told The New York Times that when he came to the U.S. from Germany seventy years earlier, he could speak only two English sentences, which were, "I do not speak English" and "Please, do not kiss me".
Was one of 10 directors to have won the Golden Globe, Director's Guild, BAFTA, and Oscar for the same movie, all for The Graduate (1967). The other directors to have achieved this are Milos Forman for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), Richard Attenborough for Gandhi (1982), Oliver Stone for Platoon (1986), Steven Spielberg for Schindler's List (1993), Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain (2005), Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire (2008), Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity (2013) and Roma (2018), Alejandro G. Iñárritu for The Revenant (2015), and Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water (2017).
On Faces of America with Henry Louis Gates Jr. (2010), Nichols learned he was a distant relative of actor Meryl Streep. A few years later on a different Gates show, Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (2012), he also found out that he was related to Albert Einstein. They would have been 3rd or 4th cousins several times removed.
Nichols was the original choice to direct the 1976 film The Last Tycoon (1976). He left the project due to creative differences with actor Robert De Niro.
Was a member of the Democratic Party.
Recipient of the Producers Guild of America's Visionary Award.
While paying tribute to Nichols during his 2003 Kennedy Center Honors, Meryl Streep and Candace Bergen read Nichols' "Five Rules for Filmmaking": 1: The careful application of terror is an important form of communication. 2: Anything worth fighting for is worth fighting dirty for. 3: There's absolutely no substitute for genuine lack of preparation. 4: If you think there's good in everybody, you haven't met everybody. 5: Friends may come and go, but enemies will certainly become studio heads.
Won more Tony Awards for Best Direction of a Play than any other individual. His won for "Barefoot in the Park" (1964); "Luv and The Odd Couple" (1965); "Plaza Suite" (1968); "The Prisoner of Second Avenue" (1972); "The Real Thing" (1984); and "Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman" (2012). He also won best direction of a musical for "Monty Python's Spamalot" (2005); and as producer for "Annie" (1977) and "The Real Thing" (1984).
Like Steve Martin, Paul Simon, and Lorne Michaels, Nichols has had his portrait painted by Eric Fischl.
Director of hit Broadway musical 'Monty Python's Spamalot' ("lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).") [February 2005]
Six of his nine Tony Awards were for Best Direction of a Play, a record. He won for "Barefoot in the Park" (1964); "Luv and The Odd Couple" (1965); "Plaza Suite" (1968); "The Prisoner of Second Avenue" (1972); "The Real Thing" (1984); and "Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman" (2012). He also won once for Best Direction of a Musical, "Monty Python's Spamalot" (2005); and twice for producing, "Annie" (1977) and "The Real Thing" (1984). He was also nominated seven additional times for Direction of a Play or Direction of a Musical: musical "The Apple Tree" (1967); "Uncle Vanya" (1974); "Comedians" (1977); "Streamers" (1977); "The Gin Game" (1978, also as producer); and further as producer of "The Play What I Wrote" (2003) and "Whoopi, The 20th Anniversary Show (2005, Special Theatrical Events).
He considered Diane Sawyer to be the love of his life.
In an interview conducted shortly before his death, he admitted that he considered his adaptation of Angels in America (2003) to be the crowning achievement of his career.
His favorite films included A Place in the Sun (1951), Persona (1966) and (1963).
He was nominated for a 1977 Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award for Best Director of a Play for "Streamers" on Broadway in New York City.
He was nominated for a 1978 Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award for Best Director of a Play for "The Gin Game" on Broadway in New York City.
Presented both Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep their AFI Life Achievement Awards.
Directed three Oscar Best Picture nominees: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), The Graduate (1967) and Working Girl (1988). He was also nominated for Best Director for each film, winning for The Graduate (1967).
Richard Burton, who in his private diaries is frequently scathing about colleagues, writes glowingly about Nichols. Professionally, he believed Nichols was one of only three directors who brought out "something in me as an actor which I didn't know was there", and, on a personal level, thought Nichols and Noël Coward were the only "men of talent" whose company he actually enjoyed ("instinctively and without effort and unmaliciously witty").
Nichols directed two films which were selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) and The Graduate (1967). He also appeared in one film that is in the registry: King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis (1970).
His father's family had been wealthy and lived in Siberia, leaving after the Russian Revolution, and settling in Germany, around 1920.
Decades before his death, he had reconciled with Elaine May and had worked on many projects together.
His parents, his mother, Brigitte (née Landauer) Peschkowsky, was a housewife and his father, Pavel Peschkowsky (A.K.A. Dr. Igor Paul Nichols), was a physician.
His parents, Brigitte and Pavel Peschkowsky (A.K.A. Dr. Igor Paul Nichols) had been married in 1925, the couple would have Mike, almost 7 years later.
His mother, Brigitte Peschkowsky, died on January 10, 1985. She lived to be 78.
He had hobbies (throughout his long life): swimming, dining out, reading, dancing, watching movies, and horse-breeding.
Directed four Emmy Award-winning performances: Jeffrey Wright, Mary-Louise Parker, Al Pacino and Meryl Streep in Angels in America (2003).
He suffered from Alopecia Universalis, a condition which results in the loss of all hair on the head and body, from the age of four due to a bad allergic reaction to a whooping cough vaccine. He then wore wigs and false eyebrows for the rest of his life.

Personal Quotes (18)

A movie is like a person. Either you trust it or you don't.
It's not a film-maker's job to explain his technique, but to tell his story the best way he can.
I've never understood that aspect of DVDs, where you suddenly put back the things you took out that could go. Why ruin your movie? With material that you've taken out? I never get that. I don't have that impulse... To put them back seems very unpleasant to me. And pointless. It's like when you've written something, when you cut a paragraph, doesn't it seem dead to you? Doesn't it look like something you'd never want to include, because the point is, it could go? You'll never see anything in my pictures, the stuff that came out, stays out.
If everybody's adorable, you can't go anywhere, you can't have any events.
I love to take actors to a place where they open a vein. That's the job. The key is that I make it safe for them to open the vein.
When I was 17, for my first job, I worked at the midtown Howard Johnson's. A customer asked me what our ice-cream flavor of the week was, which was a dumb question, because there was a huge banner showing that it was maple. So I told him that it was chicken. The customer laughed, but the manager fired me immediately. They were bastards there.
[Part of 2005 Tony Award acceptance speech] "God, my head is totally empty. I had a thing I was going to say, and I have forgot it, because I had given up so long ago. But the first thing to say is thank you. To the other members of my category, my friends Jack and James and Bartlett, I guess you are thinking age before beauty, me too! My congratulations to the winners. My love to those who have not won tonight. I just want to remind you of my motto: Cheer up, life isn't everything. It always stands me in good stead."
[on working with Orson Welles on Catch-22 (1970)] We were talking about Jean Renoir one day on the set and Orson said, very touchingly, that Renoir was a great man but that unfortunately Renoir didn't like his pictures. And then he said, "Of course, if I were Renoir I wouldn't like my pictures either".
[on Jack Nicholson] Jack is the sort of guy who takes parts others have turned down, might turn down, and explodes them into something nobody could have conceived of. All his brilliance of character and gesture is consumed and made invisible by the expanse of his nature.
[on Elizabeth Taylor] There are three things I never saw Elizabeth Taylor do: Tell a lie; be unkind to anyone; and be on time.
[on Stanley Kubrick] In the end, I think he began to have trouble, because if you can't leave home, you lose track of reality, and I think that happened to him. Still, he made great movies and he was a completely gifted director. If you look at 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), you suddenly realize: My God, there's nobody in this movie!
[on his experience judging a limerick contest] It was easy. We just threw out the dirty limericks and gave the prize to the one that was left.
[on developing an act with Elaine May] We were winging it, making up as it went along, It never crossed our minds that it had any value beyond the moment. We were stunned when we got to New York. Never for a moment did we consider that we would do this for living. It was just a handy way to make some money until we grew up.
Do you know my theory about '[Who's Afraid of] Virginia Woolf' which I think I only developed lately? It may be the only play - certainly the only play I can think of, including Shakespeare - in which every single thing that happens is in the present. Even the beautiful reminiscences of the past are traps being set in the present, sprung in the present, having violent effect in the present. It's why you can't hurt it. It's now. It's the one thing plays have the hardest time with.
[on coming to New York as a child] American society to me and my brother was thrilling because, first of all, the food made noise. We were so excited about Rice Krispies and Coca-Cola. We had only silent food in our country, and we loved listening to our lunch and breakfast.
[on firing Mandy Patinkin during making of Heartburn (1986)] I loved Mandy then, and I love him now. It was awful to have to replace him, but on film I couldn't see the chemistry I wanted. I don't know how many days it was, but to save the damn thing, I had to move fast to get Jack [Nicholson]. Mandy was, of course, devastated, and I've felt awful about it all my life.
The comic has a very special relationship with the audience.
[commenting at the 1969 San Francisco International Film Festival on his upcoming film "Carnal Knowledge" (1971)] It's about men and women in America. [rubbing his chin thoughtfully] Actually, it's about screwing.

Salary (5)

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) $250,000
The Graduate (1967) $150,000 + 17% of profits
Teach Me! (1968) $1,000,000 + 10% of profits
Catch-22 (1970) $1,000,000
Regarding Henry (1991) $3,000,000

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