Born Michael Igor Peschkowsky in Berlin, as a child the Jewish Nichols fled with his parents from Nazi Germany to the US. After college in Chicago, Nichols became a part of comedy group the Compass Players (which later became the legendary Second City), then teamed with Elaine May to form an extraordinarily successful comedy duo. May and Nichols split in 1961, and he turned his attention to theater directing. He won a Best Director Tony for his first stage play, Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park, and quickly became one of the hottest directors on Broadway, directing The Odd Couple in 1965.
Nichols soon moved into directing films, releasing two of the era's most notable films: 1966's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Graduate a year later. Nichols' biggest hits in the past few decades include Silkwood, The Birdcage, Primary Colors, the HBO miniseries version of Tony Kushner's Angels in America, and <em<Closer. However, he still found time to direct on Broadway, from The Real Thing to The Country Girl. Nichols is one of the few people to have an EGOT (for a definition, see Tracy Jordan).
Nichols's first three marriages-to Annabel Davis-Goff, Margo Callas, and Pat Scott- ended in divorce, but he married his fourth wife, news star Diane Sawyer, in 1988. [Image via Getty]