The inconsolable

Truth and illusion in the life of Mike Nichols
by
May 2021, no. 431
Buy this book

Mike Nichols: A life by Mark Harris

Penguin Press, $52.99 hb, 688 pp

The inconsolable

Truth and illusion in the life of Mike Nichols
by
May 2021, no. 431

On 8 November 2015, a year after his death, a celebration was held for Mike Nichols in the IAC building in New York. The audience included the likes of Anna Wintour, Stephen Sondheim, Tom Stoppard, Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Meryl Streep. Seventy-six years earlier, less than a mile away, seven-year-old Igor Mikhail Peschkowsky walked down the SS Bremen’s gangplank into America and a new life. The transformation of the angry, bewildered immigrant Peschkowski into the outwardly charming, debonair, outrageously talented Nichols is at the heart of Mark Harris’s comprehensive, compulsively entertaining biography.

Nichols was born into an artistic, intellectual Russian-Jewish family in Berlin. His maternal grandmother, Hedwig Lachman, translated Oscar Wilde’s Salome; Richard Strauss used it as the basis for his libretto. Einstein was a distant cousin, a fact on which Elaine May riffed to hilarious effect at Nichol’s AFI Lifetime Achievement celebrations in 2010 (not to be missed on YouTube).

Ian Dickson reviews 'Mike Nichols: A life' by Mark Harris

Mike Nichols: A life

by Mark Harris

Penguin Press, $52.99 hb, 688 pp

Buy this book

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