WASHINGTON (TIP): Mike Nichols, a nine-time Tony Award winner on Broadway and the Oscar-winning director of influential films such as “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” “The Graduate,” and “Carnal Knowledge,” died on November 19 at age 83. The prolific director passed away at his home of cardiac arrest, his spokeswoman said. A private service for the family will be held this week, followed by a memorial at a future date. No director had ever moved between Broadway and Hollywood as easily as Nichols, one of the few people to win the Oscar, Tony, Emmy and Grammy Awards.

Nichols, whose career first blossomed with a comedy partnership with Elaine May in the late 1950s, was married to Diane Sawyer, former anchorwoman of ABC’s “World News Tonight” broadcast. ABC News President James Goldston announced Nichols’ death in a memo to staff, saying he “passed away suddenly on Wednesday evening.” “In a triumphant career that spanned over six decades, Mike created some of the most iconic works of American film, television and theater,” Goldston said. “He was a true visionary.” In memory of Nichols, marquees on Broadway theaters in New York will be dimmed on Friday evening for one minute.

“An inspiration and joy to know, a director who cried when he laughed, a friend without whom, well, we can’t imagine our world, an indelible irreplaceable man,” actress Meryl Streep said in a statement. Playwright Tom Stoppard described Nichols as his hero. “Everyone who was close to Mike has suffered a loss which cannot be repaired, ever. To have been his friend was a blessing. To have worked with him was both a privilege and the best of times,” he added. Actor Tom Hanks said Nichols “changed the lives of those who knew him, who loved him, who will miss him so …” Nichols was born Michael Igor Peschkowsky in Berlin, where his parents had settled after leaving Russia.

He came to the United States at age 7 when his family fled the Nazis in 1939. He grew up in New York feeling like an outsider because of his limited English and odd appearance – a reaction to a whooping-cough vaccine had caused permanent hair loss. As a University of Chicago student, he fought depression, but found like-minded friends such as May. In the late 1950s, Nichols and May formed a stand-up team at the forefront of a comedy movement that included Lenny Bruce, Jonathan Winters and Woody Allen in satirizing contemporary American life. They won a Grammy in 1961 for best comedy album before splitting.

In the mid-1960s, Nichols became a directing powerhouse on Broadway with “Barefoot in the Park,” the first of what would be a successful relationship with playwright Neil Simon. Later he would stage Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” “Plaza Suite” and “The Prisoner of Second Avenue.” In all, he won best-director Tonys for his four collaborations with Simon, as well as for “Luv” in 1965, “The Real Thing” in 1984, “Spamalot” in 2005 and a revival of “Death of a Salesman” in 2012, and best musical award as a producer of “Annie” in 1977.

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