Entertainment & Arts

Mike Nichols, Graduate director, dies at 83

Media captionMike Nichols: ABC News look back at his career.

Mike Nichols, who won an Oscar for directing the 1967 film The Graduate, has died aged 83.

The German-born US director was also Oscar nominated for his work on Working Girl, The Remains of the Day, Silkwood and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Nichols was one of only 12 winners of all four major US entertainment awards - an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.

His last film was 2007's Charlie Wilson's War, starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.

The director was married to ABC News presenter Diane Sawyer - his fourth wife - whom he wed in 1988.

An ABC spokesperson said Nichols died of a cardiac arrest on Wednesday.

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Image caption Mike Nichols was married to ABC News presenter, Diane Sawyer

ABC News president James Goldston describing him as "a true visionary", adding: "No one was more passionate about his craft than Mike."

"In a triumphant career that spanned over six decades, Mike created some of the most iconic works of American film, television and theatre."

Nichols had been working on an HBO film adaptation of Master Class - the Terrence McNally play about opera star Maria Callas - starring Meryl Streep in the lead role.

The film was to reunite the director with Streep, after the pair worked together on 1983's Silkwood and on a 2001 stage production of The Seagull.

Paying tribute, Streep said Nichols was: "an inspiration and joy to know, a director who cried when he laughed, a friend without whom, well, we can't imagine our world, an indelible irreplaceable man."

'Reflecting life'

Nichols began his career in the late 1950s as part of a comedy duo with Elaine May.

The pair released three best-selling records, one of which won the Grammy for best comedy album in 1962.

Switching to directing, he made his Broadway debut with Neil Simon's Barefoot In The Park, starring Robert Redford. The show was a hit and earned Nichols his first Tony award in 1964.

The following year he picked up Tonys for productions of Simon's The Odd Couple and Luv.

Moving to the big screen, his first directorial project was 1966's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, the film brought Nichols his first Oscar nomination.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Mike Nichols won his first Oscar for directing The Graduate, which made a star of Dustin Hoffman

A year later saw the director win his first Oscar for directing The Graduate, featuring Dustin Hoffman in what was to be a breakout role.

Nichols continued his success on both the stage and screen for the rest of his career, covering a diverse range of genres.

He once said: "I never understand when people say: 'Do you do comedy or tragedy?' I don't think they're very much different. They both have to be true, and there isn't a great play in the world that doesn't have funny parts to it.

"The whole idea is to reflect life in some way, which means surely you have to have both."

His other movie successes include an adaptation of Joseph Heller's cult novel Catch-22, Silkwood, '80s hit Working Girl, The Birdcage and 1998 political comedy Primary Colors - purportedly a riff on Bill Clinton's presidential campaign.

He also directed 2004 film Closer, which saw its stars Clive Owen and Natalie Portman nominated for supporting acting Oscars.

His last Oscar nomination was for 1993's The Remains of the Day, which Nichols produced and was nominated for best picture.

On stage, the director also tried his hand at musicals, winning a Tony in 2005 for his work directing the Monty Python musical Spamalot on Broadway.

He won his ninth Tony in 2012 for his Broadway production of Death of a Salesman, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Andrew Garfield.

On television, Nichols won his first Emmy for the 2001 TV movie Wit, starring Emma Thompson.

He won a second two years later for the HBO miniseries Angels in America, about the Aids crisis. The cast included Thompson, Streep and Al Pacino.

Besides Sawyer, Nichols is survived by three children. ABC said his family have planned a small, private service this week with a memorial to be announced at a later stage.

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