Oscar Directors: Nichols, Mike

Mike Nichols has received four Oscar nominations as Best Director, winning one, in 1967, for The Graduate,” his second film.

Born Michael Igor Peschkowsky on November 6, 1931, in Berlin, Germany, Nichols and his German-Russian Jewish family moved to the US in 1939. He became a naturalized citizen of the US in 1944.

While attending the University of Chicago in the 1950s, he began work in improvisational comedy with the Compass Players, a precursor to The Second City.

Nichols formed a comedy team with Elaine May, with whom he appeared in nightclubs, on radio, released records, and had appeared on Broadway. Personal differences and artistic tensions eventually drove the duo apart to pursue other projects in 1961.

They later reconciled, and Elaine May scripted Nichols' films The Birdcage and Primary Colors. They appeared together at President Jimmy Carter's inaugural gala and in a 1980 New Haven stage revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf with Swoosie Kurtz and James Naughton.

Nichols has been married four times. He wed TV journalist Diane Sawyer April 29, 1988. He has three children, Daisy, Max, and Jenny.

Selected Broadway Credits

Barefoot in the Park (1963)
Luv (1964)
The Odd Couple (1965)
The Apple Tree (1966)
The Little Foxes (1967)
Plaza Suite (1968)
The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1971)
Uncle Vanya (1973)
Streamers (1976)
Comedians (1976)
The Real Thing (1984)
Hurlyburly (1984)
Whoopi Goldberg (1984)
Social Security (1986)
Death and the Maiden (1992)
Spamalot (2005)


1966: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (director)
1967: The Graduate (director)
1970: Catch-22 (director)
1971: Carnal Knowledge (director, producer)
1973: The Day of the Dolphin (director)
1983: Silkwood (director, producer)
1986: Heartburn (director, producer)
1988: Working Girl; Biloxi Blues (director)
1990: Postcards from the Edge (director, producer)
1991: Regarding Henry (director, producer)
1993: The Remains of the Day (producer)
1994: Wolf (director)
1996: The Birdcage (director, producer)
1998: Primary Colors (director, producer)
2001: Wit (writer, director, producer)
2003: Angels in America (director, producer)
2004: Closer (director, producer)
2007: Charlie Wilson's War (director)

Oscar Nominations and Awards

1966: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
1967: The Graduate
1983: Silkwood
1988: Working Girl

Oscar Context

In 1966, the winner of the Best Director Oscar was Fred Zinnemann for “Man for All Seasons.” In 1983, James L. Brooks won the Best Director for “Terms of Endearment,” which also received Best Picture. In 1988, Nichols lost the Director Oscar to Barry Levinson, who won for “Rain Man.”