Mike Nichols: A look at his legendary work

Nichols, who died at 83, was behind such acclaimed films as 'The Graduate' and 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' and was also a prolific stage director. 

Fred Prouser/Reuters
Director Mike Nichols poses next to a poster for his film 'Closer' in 2004.

Mike  Nichols, director of such critically well-received films as “The Graduate” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” has died.

ABC News president James Goldston called Nichols “incomparable” in a statement about the director. (Nichols was married to ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer.)

“He was a true visionary,” Goldston said. 

During his life, Nichols achieved the “EGOT” (receiving an Emmy Award, a Grammy Award, an Oscar, and a Tony Award). He received his Grammy Award for the album “An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May”; he and May had a show on Broadway. Nichols received various Tonys for work that included directing a 2012 production of “Death of a Salesman” and received Emmy Awards for programs that included the HBO production of “Angels in America,” which he directed. He received an Oscar for directing the 1967 film “The Graduate.”

The first film he directed was the 1966 movie “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” which starred Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor and won Taylor an Oscar. The film also won an Academy Award for actress Sandy Dennis, for Best Supporting Actress. “Graduate,” which is a frequent pick for lists of the greatest movies of all time, was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Actors Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, and Katharine Ross were also nominated, as were writers Calder Willingham and Buck Henry for the film’s screenplay. 

In a review of the film’s re-release, Monitor film critic David Sterritt wrote of “Graduate,” “Director Mike Nichols shows a gift for social satire… provocative, sophisticated for its time.” 

Nichols also directed such Broadway productions as “Barefoot in the Park,” “The Odd Couple,” “Spamalot,” and “The Country Girl,” among other work. 

Other films that Nichols directed include the 1983 film “Silkwood,” the 1988 movie “Working Girl,” and the 1996 film “The Birdcage.” More recent work included the 2004 movie “Closer” and 2007’s “Charlie Wilson’s War.”

“In a triumphant career that spanned over six decades, Mike created some of the most iconic works of American film, television and theater,” Goldston said.

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