Mike Nichols: comedian, producer, writer, radio host, and, most notably, director passed away this week at age 83. I’ve been around Nichols’ work since I was a very young child. The original host of WFMT’s (Chicago’s fine arts radio station) legendary folk music show The Midnight Special (which still lives on), Nichols, at the time, was also quintessential part of Chicago’s fertile comedy scene.
With partner Elaine May, Nichols was part of the genius comedy troupe The Compass Players, headed by Paul Sills. The Compass players were the birth parents of Second City, arguably the most most influential comedy troupe in the history of American comedy. Shelly Berman and Del Close were among the improvisational geniuses that sparked the Compass Players.
But Nichols is probably best known as a stage (Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Spamalot, etc.) and film (see below) director. He directed the provocative Angels in America for HBO. He’s the recipient of awards too numerous to count: Emmy, Oscar, Tony, Grammy, BAFTA, Golden Globe, Drama Desk, Directors Guild, and more. He’s been recognized in the Kennedy Center Honors and was awarded the American Film Institute (AFI) Lifetime Achievement Award.
My first bit of Nichols and May came when I was about 10 years old and my parents played the LP An Evening with Nichols and May. There’s a comedy sketch on the album that, to this day, remains in my memory as one of the funniest bits. It’s called “Mother and Son”:
To honor Nichols’ memory, we invite you to vote in the Blogcritics’ Mike Nichols Best Movie poll. We know it’s hard to choose, and there are more than just these film to choose from. If there’s a movie you’d choose that is not one of the choices, please make note of it in the comments below! Spread the word. Now, I must go find my copy of The Graduate!