When a giant from the Entertainment world passes away, I take the time to read of the few of the tributes and reminisce about the person’s impact on me and the industry. Periodically, and for varying reasons, I am motivated to write my own words about the person and their career.
As one of only twelve (12) EGOT’s (a winner of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony), Mike Nichols’ legacy and impact are obvious. He is not just the old guy married to Diane Sawyer. Rather, he is a visionary who impacted entertainment for more than 50 years as a performer, stage director, film director, producer and writer.
Some will recall his ground-breaking comedy work with Elaine May from the mid-50’s through the early 60’s (youtube Nichols and May). Others know him as the Oscar winning director of the classic film The Graduate (1967), and other films such as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Carnal Knowledge, Silkwood, and Working Girl. He was also instrumental in the original stage productions of such well-known and long running plays as “Barefoot in the Park“, “The Odd Couple” (Art Carney and Walter Matthau), and more recently “Spamalot“. From the mid-60’s through this year, he bounced professionally and expertly between Hollywood and the stage. Mr. Nichols’ final film was Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), and he won his final Tony Award directing Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” (2012).
While the career and awards are long-lived and impressive, what’s more notable is how those in the industry refer to him. You will read and hear words like leader, mentor and visionary. Nichols was a collaborator who could inspire artists to their best work. For me personally, I always admired his ability to be funny-smart … or maybe it’s smart-funny. He made us laugh while making us think, and that’s quite something to treasure.