The news has just come out that Mike Nichols has died at the age of 83 due to a sudden cardiac arrest. This marks a sad time in the entertainment world. Nichols was a valuable director of theatre and cinema whose work spans over 6 decades. He is well known for his work on Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and for being one of the handful of individuals in the world who are EGOT winners, but here are 5 things that you may not have known about him.

1. Compass Players Cabaret Revue

Nichol’s career began in the 1950s when he joined the Compass Players to perform comedy starting his comedy duo with member Elaine May and which was the predecessor of the formation of Chicago’s Second City.

2. Escaped from Nazis

Mike Nichols was born Mikhail Igor Peschkowsky in Berlin, Germany. In 1938 at the age of 7, Nichols with his 3 year old brother were sent alone to escape Nazi Germany to the United States to meet up with their father who had fled a year earlier.

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3. Polish Arabian Horse Lover

Nichols was a breeder of multi-national winning Polish Arabian horses. In 1976 he collaborated with many breeders and trainers for an auction in Bridgewater, Connecticut that generated over $900,000. Jackie Kennedy among other celebrities were in attendance that day.

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4. Responsible for Helping Whoopi Goldberg’s Career Take Off

When Nichol’s saw Whoopi Goldberg’s one woman show in 1983 titled The Spook Show, he immediately wanted to help her expand it. Her self-entitled Broadway show opened October 1984 and ran for 156 performances. This ended up leading to a very successful film career.

5. Related to Albert Einstein

As a child, Nichol’s was told that he was a cousin of Albert Einstein but never quite believed it, though he told all his friends growing up. While doing Finding Your Roots on PBS with Henry Louis Gates Jr. he discovered that the rumour was true. They would be third or fourth cousins several times removed on his mother’s side.

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