Mike Nichols, died Wednesday night at the age of 83. He was one of only a dozen winners of the entertainment awards grand slam — Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy. Married since 1988 to ABC newswoman Diane Sawyer, his death was announced by that net’s news president James Goldston who said, “In a triumphant career that spanned over six decades, Mike created some of the most iconic works of American film, television and theater.”
Nichols won a Grammy with then-partner Elaine May for the comedy album “An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May” in 1961, the same year the duo split up the act. He turned to directing and in 1964 won the first of his record five Tony Awards for his staging of the Neil Simon comedy “Barefoot in the Park.”
He picked up three more Tonys for directing Simon’s plays — 1965, “The Odd Couple” (as well as “Luv”); 1968, “Plaza Suite”; and 1972, “The Prisoner of Second Avenue” — and then another for helming Tom Stoppard‘s “The Real Thing” in 1984. While Nichols was part of the producing team that shared in the best musical Tony for “Annie” in 1977, he did not win his first Tony for directing a tuner until “Spamalot” in 2005, which also took the top prize. He capped his career on Broadway with another win in 2012 for directing a revival of “Death of a Salesman.”
He earned an Oscar nomination for directing his first film — “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” — in 1966 (he lost to Fred Zinnemann, who helmed the Best Picture winner “A Man for All Seasons”). The following year Nichols won the Academy Award for his direction of the box office smash “The Graduate.” He contended again in 1983 for “Silkwood” (losing to James L. Brooks who directed best pic winner “Terms of Endearment”) and in 1988 for “Working Girl” (Barry Levinson won for helming best pic champ “Rain Man”).
Nichols first competed at the Emmy Awards in 1977 as a producer of Best Drama Series nominee “Family” — the show lost to “Upstairs, Downstairs,” which won the third of its three trophies in this race. Nichols became the ninth-ever grand slam champ in 2001 when he won Emmys for both producing and directing his first telefilm, “Wit.” He took home two more Emmys in 2004 for his helming and producing of the miniseries “Angels in America.”