Tributes poured in Thursday for Oscar-winning director Mike Nichols, the creative force behind countless classic US films and plays, including The Graduate, after his death aged 83.
The legendary filmmaker directed nearly two dozen movies in all, among them the timeless Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and lighter fare with a contemporary edge, such as Working Girl.
Nichols is one of the rare figures in US entertainment to have earned an “EGOT,” having been honored with at least one Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award.
“This is a seismic loss,” fellow director Steven Spielberg said. “Mike was a friend, a muse, a mentor, one of America’s all-time greatest film and stage directors, and one of the most generous people I have ever known.”
Nichols was a member of US entertainment royalty, being married for many years to celebrated ABC television news presenter Diane Sawyer.
ABC, which announced his death, said Nichols died of cardiac arrest late on Wednesday.
Nichols — an immigrant whose work featured incisive takes on US society over several decades — won a best director Oscar in 1968 for The Graduate.
He also was awarded seven Tony Awards, two Emmy Awards and a Grammy in 1961 for Best Comedic Performance with his longtime artistic partner, Elaine May.
Meryl Streep, who worked several times with Nichols, called him “an inspiration and joy to know... a friend without whom, well, we can’t imagine our world, an indelible irreplaceable man.”
Paul Simon, who wrote the song Mrs Robinson for The Graduate, said simply: “My dear friend of 47 years. I love and admire Mike Nichols.”
Art Garfunkel told Billboard: “To act for him on camera was to glide on a liquid film of intelligence.”
Tom Hanks, who played the title role in the 2007 film Charlie Wilson’s War, cited one of the director’s own sayings in paying tribute to him.
“Forward. We must always move forward. Otherwise what will become of us?” Hanks told US movie industry journal Variety.
ABC News said the Nichols family would hold a small, private service for him later this week and a memorial service at a later date.
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