Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mike Nichols [1931-2014]

Artist: Mike Nichols & Elaine May
LP: Improvisations To Music
Song: "Mysterioso" 
[ listen ]

I was bummed to hear that Mike Nichols died suddenly from a heart-attack earlier this week. Awarded a closet-full of Tonys for directing Broadway shows like "Barefoot In the Park," "Luv," "The Odd Couple" and "The Prisoner of Second Avenue," Nichols made a huge splash in Hollywood with his very first film, the controversial WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? in 1966. He made another splash in 1967 with his next film, THE GRADUATE, which ultimately defined a generation. He went on to make a bunch more terrific (and some just okay) films over the following four decades, including this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one and this one. And don't forget this one, this one and this one. And, of course, there's this one and this one too. But what about this one, you ask? Yes, I suppose he made that too.

But before any of those movies there was improv comedy duo Mike Nichols & Elaine May. They met at school in Chicago and were arch enemies until Mike saw Elaine sitting in a train station one day. He assumed an odd accent from another land and asked if he could sit down. She, also adopting a foreign accent, said okay and the two played out an impromptu spy routine that both could tell was the seed of something good. (The duo employed this same scenario for "Mysterioso," the track posted above from their debut 1959 LP.) Their rocky relationship eventually caused the partnership to split in 1961, but they joined forces again for several film projects in the 1990s (she as writer, he directed) and the two remained lifelong friends. You can read all about Mike Nichols' life and his influential career in both Tinsel and Tony towns on Wikipedia here; there's more about Elaine May here and go here to read about the work Mike and Elaine did together. There's a moving obituary for Mike Nichols in the New York Times that you can find right here.

Mike Nichols
[ November 6, 1931 — November 19, 2014 ]
We will miss you, Mike.

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