Entertainment icon Mike Nichols dies at 83

World Today

Journalist Diane Sawyer together with her husband, director Mike Nichols, at the AFI Lifetime Achievement Awards honoring him in June, 2010. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Mike Nichols, the director of matchless versatility who brought fierce wit, caustic social commentary, and wicked absurdity to such film, TV and stage hits as “The Graduate, “Angels in America,” “the Birdcage,” and “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” has died. He was 83.

Watch Robin Williams, who worked with Nichols on “The Birdcage,” salute him during an AFI Life Achievement ceremony.

The death was confirmed by ABC News President James Goldston on Thursday. Nichols died Wednesday evening.

The family will hold a private service this week and a memorial will be held at a later date, Goldston said.

During a career spanning more than 50 years, Nichols, who was married to ABC’s Diane Sawyer, managed to be an insider and outsider, an occasional White House guest and friend to countless celebrities who was as likely to satirize the elite as he was to mingle with them.

A former stand-up performer who began his career in a groundbreaking comedy duo with Elaine May and whose work brought him an Academy Award (in 1968 for directing “The Graduate”), a Grammy, and multiple Tony and Emmy honors, Nichols had a remarkable gift for mixing edgy humor and dusky drama.

Watch Mike Nichols accept the Academy Award — and wish his mom a happy birthday — in this clip from that year’s ceremony.

“No one was more passionate than Mike,” Goldston wrote in an email announcing Nichols’ death.

Meryl Streep, whose films for Nichols included “Silkwood” and “Heartburn,” said he was “an inspiration and joy to know, a director who cried when he laughed … an indelible, irreplaceable man.”

This story is compiled with information from the Associated Press.