Mike Nichols, auteur of “The Graduate,” has passed away. He was 83. Nichols was a German-born American film and theatre director, producer, actor and comedian. He began his career in the fifties with the improv troupe the Compass Players, predecessor of the Second City in Chicago and as one half of the comedy duo Nichols & May, along with Elaine May.
In 1968 Nichols won an Academy Award for Best Director for the film “The Graduate,” a career-defining moment for a milestone of American film history. His other films include “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” “Catch-22,” “Carnal Knowledge,” “Silkwood,” “Working Girl,” “The Birdcage,”
Closer,” “Charlie Wilson’s War,” his final picture, and the TV mini-series “Angels in America.”
Mike Nichols is a member of that exclusive club of people who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award. Other honors bestowed upon him include the Lincoln Center Gala Tribute in 1999, the National Medal of Arts in 2001, the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003 and the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2010.
Nichols put Dustin Hoffman, his lead in “The Graduate” on the map, the film being the third biggest-selling movie of all time for a while. Because of its negativist comment on consumerist conformity presented from a multitude of viewpoints, the successful launch of Hoffman’s career, the fact that it broke all kinds of B.O. records and the fact that the intent behind “The Graduate” is still misunderstood to this day, this will always remain the most important film in the Mike Nichols canon.