Entertainment Icon Mike Nichols Has Died at Age 83

His unparalleled career featured hits on Broadway and the silver screen.

ByABC News
November 20, 2014, 6:55 AM

— -- Mike Nichols, the entertainment icon and husband of ABC News Anchor Diane Sawyer, died suddenly Wednesday at the age of 83.

Nichols' death was announced in a statement by ABC News President James Goldston.

"He was a true visionary, winning the highest honors in the arts for his work as a director, writer, producer and comic and was one of a tiny few to win the EGOT-an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony in his lifetime," Goldston said in the statement.

"No one was more passionate about his craft than Mike."

Diane Sawyer, Mike Nichols, Max Nichols and Jenny Nichols are seen in this undated file photo.

Nichols was born in Germany in 1931, and came to the United States when he was 7 years old, when his family escaped Nazi Germany. He arrived in America speaking little English, but his enthusiasm for his new country never waned.

He graduated from the Walden School in New York City, and began pursuing theater while attending the University of Chicago in the early 1950s. While studying medicine, he found his true calling – comedy. He joined a comedy troupe in Chicago and teamed up with performer Elaine May. The duo gained national popularity together, cementing their partnership as America's innovative comedy duo.

But Nichols forged his legacy as a director, helming hits on Broadway and the silver screen – from "Barefoot in the Park" and "The Odd Couple" to "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "The Graduate." He earned the Oscar for best director for "The Graduate."

Diane Sawyer and Mike Nichols arrive at "TV Land Presents: The AFI Life Achievement Awards Honoring Mike Nichols," in this June 10, 2010 file photo at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, Calif.

His unparalleled career, which stretched a half-century, included such successes as "Carnal Knowledge," "Working Girl," "The Birdcage" and "Closer." He earned his eighth Tony two years ago for his revival of "Death of a Salesman."

He had recently been working on a project for HBO to adapt "Master Class," Terrence McNally's Tony Award-winning play about opera legend Maria Callas. The project would have reunited him with frequent collaborator Meryl Streep.

Nichols is survived by his wife, children Daisy, Max and Jenny, and four grandchildren.