It’s hard to imagine a 7-year-old boy escaping Berlin just before Kristallnacht, being mocked as the ultimate non-English–speaking outsider at The Dalton School and still hitting the high-water mark in not just one but three areas of American entertainment.
But that is precisely what Mike Nichols — born Mikhail Igor Peschkowsky — did, in his improv routines with Elaine May, in Broadway hits that won him nine Tonys and in many of our most cherished films, from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Graduate, for which he won the Oscar for Best Director, to Silkwood and Primary Colors.
But Nichols was also wracked by depression, endless self-flagellation, dazzling highs and dizzying plunges. Mark Harris tells that story masterfully in his new book, Mike Nichols: A Life. He joins us to speak about Nichols’s transformation from a lonely outsider to the center of the American cultural universe, his unquenchable drive and the passion of a man always in motion.
Author of Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood (a New York Times Notable Book of 2008) and Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War, Mark Harris is the former executive editor of Entertainment Weekly.
Moderated by SiriusXM’s Jessica Shaw.
NOTE: Books can only be shipped to US addresses.