Mike Nichols (born Mikhail Igor Peschkowsky; November 6, 1931 – November 19, 2014) was an American film and theatre director, producer, actor and comedian. He was noted for his ability to work across a range of genres and an aptitude for getting the best out of actors regardless of their acting experience. Nichols began his career in the 1950s with the comedy improvisational troupe, The Compass Players, predecessor of The Second City, in Chicago. He then teamed up with his improv partner, Elaine May, to form the comedy duo Nichols and May. Their live improv acts were a hit on Broadway resulting in three albums, with their debut album winning a Grammy Award.
Mike Nichols, who died at home in New York last November 19 2014, 13 days past his 83rd birthday, left a crater-size hole in the cultural landscape and in the life of the city he loved. He was that rare thing—a success in entertainment for six decades, beginning in the late 1950s with the classic comedy albums he made with the brilliant Elaine May (which had first been developed into a Broadway stage show, An Evening with Nichols and May, directed by Arthur Penn), then becoming one of the leading theater and motion-picture directors of the second half of the last century. He directed such landmark films as The Graduate, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Carnal Knowledge, and Silkwood, as well as 22 Broadway plays, including the 2012 revival of Death of a Salesman, starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Nichols is one of only 12 people to have won an Emmy (for best director of a television play and mini-series, for Wit and Angels in America), a Grammy (for best comedy album, with Elaine May, in 1962), an Oscar (for best director, for The Graduate), and a Tony (nine in all). Colloquially, this achievement is called an E.G.O.T.