Mike Nichols, director of The Graduate

Mike Nichols, the Oscar-winning director of “The Graduate” who escaped Nazi Germany as a boy, died Nov. 19 in New York at 83.

Nichols won nine Tonys, an Oscar, several Emmys and a Grammy — one of the few people to win all four awards. As a director, he made countless performers from Dustin Hoffman to Melanie Griffith into stars. To acclaim, he adapted Edward Albee, Neil Simon, Tony Kushner and Arthur Miller.

Nichols was a supreme orchestrator of material, talent and taste. In films like “The Graduate,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “Carnal Knowledge,” he left not only a firm stamp of authorship, but with a dry wit and a classical eye he choreographed caustic social commentaries of couples drunk with bitterness, bored with regret and apprehensive in flight.

“I keep coming back to it, over and over: adultery and cheating,” Nichols, who was divorced three times before marrying ABC News’ Diane Sawyer in 1988, said last year.

Born Michael Igor Peschkowsky in Berlin, Nichols’ Jewish family immigrated to the U.S. in 1939. He began as a stand-up, and comedy would remain the bedrock to his sensibility and sense of timing. He and comic partner Elaine May developed their great improvisational rapport into a saucy, sophisticated stage show that took on sex, marriage, family and other subjects in a frank manner that titillated and startled audiences of the late 1950s and early ’60s.

Steven Spielberg called Nichols’ passing a “seismic loss.”

“For me, ‘The Graduate’ was life-altering — both as an experience at the movies as well as a master class about how to stage a scene,” said Spielberg. “Mike had a brilliant cinematic eye and uncanny hearing for keeping scenes ironic and real.” — jta & ap