Nichols was born in Germany and had a name I can barely spell, let alone pronounce, so he changed it. I didn't have anything to do with it, of course. Actually, his birth name of Mikhail Igor Peschkowsky wasn't that bad, but it clearly wouldn't fit on a marquee. However, Mike wasn't the one who thought of changing his name. It was his family when they arrived in the U.S. They decided on a short and sweet last name of "Nichols."
He moved behind the scenes and directed Robert Redford and Elizabeth Ashley in "Barefoot in the Park," which won him his first Tony in 1964. For a time he was Broadway's golden boy, with success following success: "Luv" (1964), "The Odd Couple" (1965), "The Apple Tree" (1966, featuring a young Alan Alda), "Plaza Suite" (1968) and "The Prisoner of Second Avenue" (1971). "Barefoot," "Odd Couple," "Plaza Suite" and "Second Avenue" were all written by Neil Simon.
He was also the director of the musical "Annie" (1977), which was one of Broadway's longest-running musicals when it closed almost six years later.
After a few marriages, three to be exact, and a few kids, he got hitched for good in 1988 when he married television journalist Diane Sawyer. It was her first time at the altar.
She survives him, along with three children and four grandchildren.
R&B singer Jimmy Ruffin, 78, died Monday in Las Vegas. He had a number of hits in the 1960s.
He was the brother of the late singer of the Temptations, David Ruffin, who died at age 50 in 1991.