Your source for information on the latest and greatest in reading arts and entertainment!

Friday, November 21, 2014

RIP Mike Nichols...

On November 19 the world of arts lost one of its most versatile and prolific 
practitioners. Director, producer, writer, actor and comedian Mike Nichols passed away at the age of 83. 

Here are some facts about Mr. Nichols about which you might not know:

He was born Mikhail Igor Peschkowsky in Berlin. His father was of a wealthy family chased out of Russia by the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. On his mother's side young Mikhail could claim as a third cousin twice removed Albert Einstein.

The family left Germany and the Nazi purge of Jews in 1939 and finally settled in Manhattan where Mikhail's father, now named Paul Nichols, rose to be a successful doctor located along Central Park West. 
The newly named Mike Nichols became a naturalized citizen in 1944.

While a medical student in Chicago in the early Fifties, Nichols was for two years the original host of "The Midnight Special" on radio station WFMT. A mixture of recorded and live in studio performances of folk music and satire, this series is still heard today.

Also during his stay in the Windy City Nichols met the writer and Sixties activist Susan Sontag who would refer to Nichols as her "best friend."

Nichols' first taste of fame as comic/improvisiation partner to actress and future 
screenwriter Elaine May is brought to to life in two books to be found at Merrick Library. One which devotes a whole chapter to them is Gerald Nachman's "Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s." The other is "Monitor: Take 2" by Dennis Hart, sampling the humorous contributions of Nichols and May to the long-running NBC Radio weekend program alongside such comedy contemporaries as Bob and Ray, Ernie Kovacs and Jonathan Winters.

Four of the nine Tony Awards Mike Nichols won in his lifetime were for directing the original productions of four Neil Simon plays: Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Plaza Suite and The Prisoner of Second Avenue. His last Tony was for directing the musical Spamalot.

Merrick Library has five films on DVD that contain the
 directorial genius of Mike Nichols:

Angels in America (Emmy for Best Director, 2004)
Charlie Wilson's War (Nichols' last movie)
The Graduate (Oscar for Best Director, 1968)
Remains of the Day


No comments:

Post a Comment