He was an Oscar-winning director. She’s one of America’s most revered journalists. But when Mike Nichols met Diane Sawyer, “he was like a high school kid in love with the prom queen,” says TV producer Tom Fontana in the new book Life Isn’t Everything: Mike Nichols, as Remembered by 150 of His Closest Friends, by Ash Carter and Sam Kashner.
The feeling was mutual. Though Mike had divorced three times before his 1988 marriage to Diane, she had never wed. As she told her friend, columnist Peggy Noonan, “I don’t think I would have ever married if I hadn’t met Mike.”
Their paths first crossed in a most romantic location. “They met in the Concorde lounge,” says Tom Hanks, who starred in Mike’s 2007 film Charlie Wilson’s War, of the luxury airline. “That’s like meeting on the Queen Mary in the old days.”
They wed on Martha’s Vineyard while Mike was making the classic rom-com Working Girl. On the set, “he was so happy,” remembers costar Sigourney Weaver. “He would talk about how great Diane was.”
Throughout their marriage, they remained each other’s biggest fans. Julia Roberts recounts how Mike (who directed her in Charlie Wilson’s War alongside Tom and in 2004’s Closer) would invite her over for dinner, then take a break so they could watch Diane anchor ABC’s evening newscast together. “He was totally in love and besotted with his beautiful wife,” says Julia. “And the way she would sit and listen to his stories — it was just this mutual, active love affair.”
That affair sadly ended in 2014, when Mike died at 83, but their love lives on. “I can’t tell you how many times in those last years, his eyes would well with tears and he’d say, ‘I just can’t believe how lucky I am,’” says Christine Baranski, whom Mike directed in 1996’s The Birdcage. “His life really did come to this graceful denouement.”
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