Clay Aiken: Remembering Mike Nichols

Celebrated director, Mike Nichols, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 83.  James Goldston, the president of ABC News, announced his death. Mr. Nichols was married to the ABC broadcaster Diane Sawyer.

Photo by Tony Cenicola – The New York Times

An accomplished performer and renowned stage director, Mike Nichols is among an elite few who have been awarded all of the major American entertainment awards: a Grammy, four Emmys, nine Tonys, and an Oscar. His other honors include an AFI Life Achievement Award in 2010, the Kennedy Honors in 2003, a National Medal of Arts in 2001 and a Lincoln Center Gala Tribute in 1999.

A child war refugee, Nichols immigrated with his family to the United States to escape the Nazis.  He worked his way through college at the University of Chicago, where he decided to become an actor.

Mike Nichols was the director of Spamalot at the Shubert Theater in New York.  He took a chance and cast Clay Aiken in the musical as the timid Sir Robin.  Mr. Nichols said of Clay:

Clay is amazing, beyond that glorious voice,” said director Mike Nichols. “Turns out he is an excellent comic actor and a master of character. People are going to be surprised by his wide-ranging talent, since the first impression is of great country charm and a singer to remember. This guy is not only a star; he is a lot more. We’re lucky to get him for ‘Spamalot’!”

Clay wrote the following tweet on Thursday morning.

The best of all I’ve gotten to do was the blessing of working with Mike Nichols. Heaven now has one of the most brilliant, funniest angels.

Many words have been used to describe Mike Nichols; urbane, witty, exuberantly versatile, humane.  But above all, Mike Nichols has won the admiration and respect from people who care about theater, movies, laughter, and most important, life!

To Mike’s family and close friends:

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