The Info List - Elaine May

Elaine May
Elaine May
(born April 21, 1932) is an American screenwriter, film director, actress, and comedienne. She made her initial impact in the 1950s from her improvisational comedy routines with Mike Nichols, performing as Nichols and May. After her duo with Nichols ended, May subsequently developed a career as a director and screenwriter. Her screenwriting has been twice nominated for the Academy Award, for Heaven Can Wait (1978) and the Nichols-directed Primary Colors (1998).[1] May is celebrated for the string of films she directed in the 1970s: her 1971 black comedy A New Leaf, in which she also starred; her 1972 dark romantic comedy The Heartbreak Kid; and her 1976 gritty drama Mikey and Nicky, starring John Cassavetes
John Cassavetes
and Peter Falk. In 1996, she reunited with Nichols to write the screenplay for The Birdcage, directed by Nichols. After studying acting with theater coach Maria Ouspenskaya
Maria Ouspenskaya
in Los Angeles, she moved to Chicago in 1955 and became a founding member of the Compass Players, an improvisational theater group. May began working alongside Nichols, who was also in the group, and together they began writing and performing their own comedy sketches, which were enormously popular. In 1957 they both quit the group to form their own stage act, Nichols and May, in New York. Jack Rollins, who produced most of Woody Allen's films, said their act was "so startling, so new, as fresh as could be. I was stunned by how really good they were."[2]:340 They performed nightly to mostly sold-out shows, in addition to making TV appearances and radio broadcasts. In their comedy act, they created satirical clichés and character types which made fun of the new intellectual, cultural, and social order that was just emerging at the time. In doing so, she was instrumental in removing the stereotype of women being unable to succeed at live comedy. Together, they became an inspiration to many younger comedians, including Lily Tomlin
Lily Tomlin
and Steve Martin. After four years, at the height of their fame, they decided to discontinue their act. May become a screenwriter and playwright, along with acting and directing. Their relatively brief time together as comedy stars led New York talk show host Dick Cavett
Dick Cavett
to call their act "one of the comic meteors in the sky." Gerald Nachman noted that " Nichols and May
Nichols and May
are perhaps the most ardently missed of all the satirical comedians of their era."[2]:319


1 Early years and personal life 2 Stage career

2.1 The Compass Players 2.2 Nichols and May
Nichols and May
comedy team 2.3 Technique 2.4 Influence on other comedians 2.5 Team break-up 2.6 Playwriting

3 Film career

3.1 Directing 3.2 Writing 3.3 Acting

4 Television career 5 Filmography 6 Awards and honours 7 Further reading 8 References 9 External links

Early years and personal life[edit] May was born Elaine Iva Berlin on April 21, 1932, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Jewish parents, theater director/actor Jack Berlin and actress Ida (Aaron) Berlin.[3]:39[4] As a child, Elaine performed with her father in his traveling Yiddish theater company, which he took around the country. Her stage debut on the road was at the age of three, and she eventually played the character of a generic little boy named Benny.[5] Because the troupe toured extensively, May had been in over 50 different schools by the time she was ten, having spent as little as a few weeks enrolled at any one time. May says she hated school and would spend her free time at home reading fairy tales and mythology.[2]:331 Her father died when she was 11 years old, and then she and her mother moved to Los Angeles, where May later enrolled in Hollywood High School. She dropped out when she was fourteen years old. Two years later, aged sixteen, she married Marvin May, an engineer and toy inventor. They had one child, Jeannie Berlin (born 1949), who became an actress and screenwriter. The couple divorced in 1960, and she married lyricist Sheldon Harnick
Sheldon Harnick
in 1962; they divorced a year later. In 1964, May married her psychoanalyst, David L. Rubinfine; they remained married until his death in 1982.[2]:332 May's current longtime companion is director Stanley Donen, whom she has dated since 1999.[6] Donen claims to have proposed marriage "about 172 times."[7] Stage career[edit] After her marriage to Marvin May, she studied acting with former Moscow Art Theatre
Moscow Art Theatre
coach Maria Ouspenskaya. She also held odd jobs during that period and tried to enroll in college. She learned, however, that colleges in California require a high school diploma to apply, which she didn't have.[3]:39 After finding out that the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
was one of the few colleges that would accept students without diplomas, she set out with $7 to her name and hitchhiked to Chicago.[5] Soon after moving to Chicago in 1950, May began informally taking classes at the university by auditing, sitting in without enrolling. She nevertheless sometimes engaged in discussions with instructors. Mike Nichols, who was then an actor in the school's theatrical group, remembers her coming to his philosophy class, making "outrageous" comments, and leaving.[2]:324 They learned about each other from friends, eventually being introduced after one of his stage shows. Six weeks later, they bumped into each other at a train station in Chicago and soon began spending time together over the following weeks as "dead-broke theatre junkies."[2]:324f The Compass Players[edit] In 1955, May joined a new, off-campus improvisational theater group in Chicago, The Compass Players, becoming one of its charter members. The group was founded by Paul Sills and David Shepherd. Nichols later joined the group, wherein he resumed his friendship with May. At first he was unable to improvise well on stage, but with inspiration from May, they began developing improvised comedy sketches together.[2]:333 Nichols himself remembers this period:

From then on it became mostly pleasure because of Elaine's generosity. The fact of Elaine—her presence—kept me going. She was the only one who had faith in me. I loved it... We had a similar sense of humor and irony... When I was with her I became something more than I had been before.[2]:333

Actress Geraldine Page
Geraldine Page
recalls they worked together with great efficiency, "like a juggernaut."[2]:336 Thanks in part to Nichols and May, writes Amy Seham, the Compass Players
Compass Players
became an enormously popular satirical comedy troupe. Seham notes that they helped his group devise new stage techniques to adapt the freedom they had during the workshop.[8]:16

May, Nichols and Dorothy Loudon, 1959

May became prominent as a member of the Compass's acting group, a quality others in the group observed. Bobbi Gordon, an actor, remembers that she was often the center of attention: "The first time I met her was at Compass... Elaine was this grande dame of letters. With people sitting around her feet, staring up at her, open-mouthed in awe, waiting for 'The Word'.[2]:330f A similar impression struck Compass actor Bob Smith:

May would hold court, discussing her days as a child actor in the Yiddish theater, as men hung on her every word. Every guy who knew her was in love with her. You'd have been stupid not to have been.[2]:329

As an integral member of their group, May was open to giving novices a chance, said actress Nancy Ponder, including the hiring of a black actor and generally making the group "more democratic." And by observing her high level of performance creativity, everyone's work was improved.[2]:330 "She was the strongest woman I ever met," adds Ponder.[2]:330 But in giving all her attention to acting, however, she neglected her home life. Fellow actress Barbara Harris recalls that May lived in a cellar with only one piece of furniture, a ping-pong table. "She wore basic beatnik black and, like her film characters, was a brilliant disheveled klutz."[2]:330 Because she was physically attractive, some members of the group, including Nichols, became distracted during workshops. Group actor Omar Shapli was "struck by her piercing, dark-eyed, sultry stare. It was really unnerving," he says.[2]:329 Nichols remembers that "everybody wanted Elaine, and the people who got her couldn't keep her." Theater critic John Lahr agrees, noting that "her juicy good looks were a particularly disconcerting contrast to her sharp tongue."[2]:329

"Elaine was too formidable, one of the most intelligent, beautiful, and witty women I had ever met. I hoped I would never see her again."

Richard Burton[2]:331

May's sense of humor, including what she found funny about everyday life, was different from others' in the group. Novelist Herbert Gold, who dated May, says that "she treated everything funny that men take seriously... She was never serious. Her life was a narrative."[2]:329 Another ex-boyfriend, James Sacks, says that "Elaine had a genuine beautiful madness." Nevertheless, states Gold, "she was very cute, a lot like Debra Winger, just a pretty Jewish girl."[2]:329 She was considered highly intelligent. "She's about fifty percent more brilliant than she needs to be," says actor Eugene Troobnick. Those outside their theater group sometimes noticed that same quality. British actor Richard Burton, who was married to Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor
at the time, agreed with that impression after he first met May while he was starring in Camelot on Broadway.[2]:331 Nichols and May
Nichols and May
comedy team[edit]

Nichols and May, 1960

Nichols was personally asked to leave the Compass Players
Compass Players
in 1957 because he and May became too good, which threw the company off balance, noted club manager Jay Landsman. Nichols was told he had too much talent.[2]:338 Nichols then left the group in 1957, with May quitting with him. They next formed their own stand-up comedy team, Nichols and May. After contacting some agents in New York, they were asked to audition for Jack Rollins, who would later become Woody Allen's manager and executive producer. Rollins said he was stunned by how good their act was:

Their work was so startling, so new, as fresh as could be. I was stunned by how really good they were, actually as impressed by their acting technique as by their comedy... They were totally adventurous and totally innocent, in a certain sense. That's why it was accepted. They would uncover little dark niches that you felt but had never expressed... I'd never seen this technique before. I thought, My God, these are two people writing hilarious comedy on their feet![2]:340

By 1960, they made their Broadway debut with An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May, which later won a Grammy. After performing their act a number of years in New York's various clubs, and then on Broadway, with most of the shows sold out, Nichols could not believe their success:

We were winging it, making it up as we went along. It never even crossed our minds that it had any value beyond the moment. It was great to study and learn and work there. We were stunned when we got to New York... Never for a moment did we consider that we would do this for a living. It was just a handy way to make some money until we grew up.[2]:333

His feelings were shared by May, who was also taken aback by their success, especially having some real income after living in near-poverty. She told a Newsweek interviewer, "When we came to New York, we were practically barefoot. And I still can't get used to walking in high heels."[2]:343 The uniqueness of their act made them an immediate success in New York. Their style became the "next big thing" in live comedy. Charles H. Joffe, their producer, remembers that sometimes the line to their show went around the block. That partly explains why Milton Berle, a major television comedy star, tried three times without success to see their act.[2]:341 Critic Lawrence Christon recalls his first impression after seeing their act: "You just knew it was a defining moment. They caught the urban tempo, like Woody Allen
Woody Allen
did."[2]:343 They performed nightly at mostly sold-out shows, in addition to making TV program and commercial appearances and radio broadcasts.[2]:346 Technique[edit]

Theater program from 1961

Among the qualities of their act, which according to one writer made them a rarity, was that they used both "snob and mob appeal," which gave them a wide audience. Nachman explains that they presented a new kind of comedy team, unlike previous comedy duos which had an intelligent member alongside a much less intelligent one, as with Laurel and Hardy, Fibber McGee and Molly, Burns and Allen, Abbott and Costello, and Martin and Lewis.[2]:322 What differentiated their style was the fact that their stage performance created "scenes," a method very unlike the styles of other acting teams. Nor did they rely on fixed gender or comic roles, but instead adapted their own character to fit a sketch idea they came up with. They chose real-life subjects, often from their own life, which were made into satirical and funny vignettes.[2]:322 This was accomplished by using subtle joke references which they correctly expected their audiences to recognize, whether through clichés or character types. They thereby indirectly poked fun at the new intellectual culture which they saw growing around them. They felt that young Americans were taking themselves too seriously, which became the subject of much of their satire.[2]:321 Nichols structured the material for their skits, and May came up with most of their ideas.[5] Improvisation became a fairly simple art for them, as they portrayed the urban couple's "Age of Anxiety" in their sketches, and did so on their feet.[9] According to May, it was simple:

It's nothing more than quickly creating a situation between two people and throwing up some kind of problem for one of them.[5]

Nichols notes that after coming up with a sketch idea, they would perform it soon after with little extra rehearsal or writing it down. One example he remembered was inspired simply from a phone call from his mother. I called Elaine and I said, "I've got a really good piece for us tonight." They created a six-minute-long, mostly improvised, "mother and son" sketch, which they performed later that night.[2]:335[10] May helped remove the stereotype of women's roles on stage. Producer David Shepherd notes that she accomplished that partly by not choosing traditional 1950s female roles for her characters, which were often housewives or women working at menial jobs. Instead, she often played the character of a sophisticated woman, such as a doctor, a psychiatrist, or an employer.[2]:337 Shepherd notes that "Elaine broke through the psychological restrictions of playing comedy as a woman."[2]:322 Nichols and May
Nichols and May
did have different attitudes toward their improvisations, however. Where Nichols always needed to know where a sketch was going and what its ultimate point would be, May preferred exploring ideas as the scene progressed. May says that even when they repeated their improvisations, it was not rote but came from re-creating her original impulse. Such improvisational techniques allowed her to make slight changes during a performance.[5] Although May had a wider improvisational range than Nichols, he was generally the one to shape the pieces and steer them to their end. For their recordings, he also made the decision of what to delete.[2]:323 Influence on other comedians[edit] Nichols and May
Nichols and May
created a new "Age of Irony" for comedy, which showed actors arguing contemporary banalities as a key part of their routine. That style of comedy was picked up and further developed by later comics such as Steve Martin, Bill Murray, and David Letterman.[2]:323 According to Martin, Nichols and May
Nichols and May
were among the first to satirize relationships. The word "relationship," notes Martin, was first used in the early sixties: "It was the first time I ever heard it satirized."[2]:323 He recalls that soon after discovering their recorded acts, he went to sleep each night listening to them. "They influenced us all and changed the face of comedy."[2]:324 Lily Tomlin
Lily Tomlin
was also affected by their routines and considers May to be her inspiration as a comedian: "There was nothing like Elaine May, with her voice, her timing, and her attitude," says Tomlin.[11]:43 She adds:

The nuances of the characterizations and the cultured types that they were doing completely appealed to me. They were the first people I saw doing smart, hip character pieces. My brother and I used to keep their "Improvisations to Music" on the turntable twenty-four hours a day.[2]:324

Team break-up[edit] Audiences were still discovering them in 1961, four years after they arrived. However, at the height of their fame, they decided to discontinue their act that year and took their careers in different directions: Nichols became a leading film director; May became primarily a screenwriter and playwright, with some acting and directing. Among the reasons they decided to call it quits was that keeping their act fresh was becoming more difficult. Nichols explains:

Several things happened. One was that I, more than Elaine, became more and more afraid of our improvisational material. She was always brave. We never wrote a skit, we just sort of outlined it: I'll try to make you, or we'll fight—whatever it was. We found ourselves doing the same material over and over, especially in our Broadway show. This took a great toll on Elaine.[2]:349

" Nichols and May
Nichols and May
are perhaps the most ardently missed of all the satirical comedians of their era. When Nichols and May
Nichols and May
split up, they left no imitators, no descendants, no blueprints or footprints to follow. No one could touch them."

Author Gerald Nachman[2]:319

Nichols said that for him personally the breakup was "cataclysmic", and he went into a state of depression: "I didn't know what I was or who I was." It was not until 1996, thirty-five years later, that they would work together again as a team, when she wrote the screenplay and he directed The Birdcage. It "was like coming home, like getting a piece of yourself back that you thought you'd lost," he said.[2]:353 He adds that May had been very important to him from the moment he first saw her,[2]:325 adding that for her "improv was innate," and few people have that gift.[2]:359 Director Arthur Penn
Arthur Penn
said of their sudden breakup, "They set the standard and then they had to move on."[2]:351 To New York talk show host Dick Cavett, "They were one of the comic meteors in the sky."[2]:348 They reunited for benefits for George McGovern for President in 1972. Playwriting[edit] Following the break-up, May wrote several plays. Her greatest success was the one-act Adaptation. Other stage plays she has written include Not Enough Rope, Mr Gogol and Mr Preen, Hotline (which was performed off-Broadway in 1995 as part of the anthology play Death Defying Acts), After the Night and the Music, Power Plays, Taller Than A Dwarf, The Way of All Fish, and Adult Entertainment. In 1969 she directed the off-Broadway production of Adaptation/Next. In 2002 Stanley Donen
Stanley Donen
directed her musical play Adult Entertainment with Jeannie Berlin and Danny Aiello
Danny Aiello
at Variety Arts Theater in Manhattan.[12] May wrote the one-act play George is Dead, which starred Marlo Thomas and was performed on Broadway from late 2011 into 2012 as part of the anthology play Relatively Speaking, directed by John Turturro.[13] Film career[edit] Directing[edit]

May performing in 1959

May made her film writing and directing debut in 1971 with A New Leaf, a black comedy based on Jack Ritchie's short story The Green Heart. (Ritchie would later retitle the story A New Leaf.) The unconventional 'romance' starred Walter Matthau
Walter Matthau
as a Manhattan
bachelor faced with bankruptcy and May herself as the wealthy but nerdy botanist he cynically romances and marries in order to salvage his extravagant lifestyle. Director May originally submitted a 180-minute work to Paramount, but the studio cut it back by nearly 80 minutes for release. May quickly followed up her debut film with 1972's The Heartbreak Kid. She limited her role to directing, using a screenplay by Neil Simon, based on a story by Bruce Jay Friedman. The film starred Charles Grodin, Cybill Shepherd, Eddie Albert, and May's own daughter, Jeannie Berlin, was a major critical success (holding a 90% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes). It is listed at #91 in the AFI's 100 funniest movies of all time. Her career then suffered a major setback. She followed up her two comedies by writing and directing a bleak crime drama entitled Mikey and Nicky, starring Peter Falk
Peter Falk
and John Cassavetes. Budgeted at $1.8 million and scheduled for a summer 1975 release, the film ended up costing $4.3 million and not coming out until December 1976. She was eventually fired by Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures
(the studio which financed the film), but succeeded in getting herself rehired by hiding two reels of the negative until the studio gave in. The film's subsequent failure at the box office damaged her career in Hollywood and she did not direct again for a decade. It was Warren Beatty
Warren Beatty
who decided to give her one more chance. They collaborated on Ishtar (1987), starring Beatty and Dustin Hoffman. Largely shot on location in Morocco, the production was beset by creative differences among the principals and had cost overruns. Long before the picture was ready for release, the troubled production had become the subject of numerous press stories, including a long cover article in New York Magazine. The advance publicity was largely negative[14] and, despite some positive reviews from the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post, the film was a critical failure. May did not direct another film for 29 years, when she directed the TV documentary Mike Nichols: American Masters in 2016.[15] Writing[edit] In addition to writing three of the films she directed, Elaine May received an Oscar nomination for updating the 1941 film Here Comes Mr. Jordan as Heaven Can Wait (1978). She contributed (uncredited) to the screenplay for the 1982 megahit Tootsie, notably the scenes involving the character played by Bill Murray. She also contributed to the screenplay for Dangerous Minds
Dangerous Minds
(1995) According to many, it was May's rewrites that ended up giving the film the "white savior" feeling many critics chatised the film for. May reunited with her former comic partner, Mike Nichols, for an American adaptation of The Birdcage
The Birdcage
in 1996. The film relocated the classic French farce La Cage aux Folles from France to South Beach, Miami. May received her second Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay when she again worked with Nichols on Primary Colors in 1997. In December 2013 Stanley Donen
Stanley Donen
was in pre-production for a new film co-written with May, to be produced by Mike Nichols. A table reading of the script for potential investors included such actors as Christopher Walken, Charles Grodin, Ron Rifkin, and Jeannie Berlin.[16] Nichols died in 2014, however, and nothing further has been reported about this project. Acting[edit] May has also acted in comedy films, including Enter Laughing (1967), directed by Carl Reiner, and Luv (1967), costarring Peter Falk
Peter Falk
and Jack Lemmon. The latter film was not well received by critics, although Lemmon said he enjoyed working alongside May: "She's the finest actress I've ever worked with," he said. "And I've never expressed an opinion about a leading lady before... I think Elaine is touched with genius. She approaches a scene like a director and a writer."[5] Film scholar Gwendolyn Audrey Foster
Gwendolyn Audrey Foster
notes that May is drawn to material that borders on dry Yiddish humor. As such, it has not always been well received at the box office. Her style of humor, in writing or acting, often has more to do with traditional Yiddish theater than traditional Hollywood cinema.[17] A New Leaf (1971), which she also wrote and directed, was a dark comedy co-starring Walter Matthau. Vincent Canby
Vincent Canby
called it "a beautifully and gently cockeyed movie that recalls at least two different traditions of American film comedy... The entire project is touched by a fine and knowing madness."[18] May received a Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of botanist Henrietta Lowell. In Herbert Ross's California Suite (1978), written by Neil Simon, she was reunited with A New Leaf co-star Walter Matthau, playing his wife Millie.[19] May reunited with Nichols for a production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in New Haven in 1980. May acted in the film In the Spirit (1990), in which she played a "shopaholic stripped of consumer power"; Robert Pardi has described her portrayal as a "study of fraying equanimity [that] is a classic comic tour de force."[20] To date, her last role as a film actress was in Woody Allen's Small Time Crooks
Small Time Crooks
(2000). She played the character May Sloane, which Allen named after May when he wrote it, and with May being his first choice for the part.[21] For her acting, she won the National Society of Film Critics award for Best Supporting Actress.[22] Allen spoke of her as a genius, and of his ease of working with her:

She shows up on time, she knows her lines, she can ad-lib creatively, and is willing to. If you don't want her to, she won't. She's a dream. She puts herself in your hands. She's a genius, and I don't use that word casually.[21]

Television career[edit] In 2016, she came out of retirement to star in Woody Allen's television series Crisis in Six Scenes
Crisis in Six Scenes
on Amazon,[23] her first role since Allen's own Small Time Crooks. Filmography[edit]

Title Year Credit(s) Role Notes

DuPont Show of the Month 1958 Actress Candy Carter Episode: "The Red Mill"

Enter Laughing 1967 Actress Angela Marlowe

Luv 1967 Actress Ellen Manville

The Graduate 1967 Actress Sorority girl with note for Benjamin Uncredited

Bach to Bach 1967 Actress, writer Woman Short film

A New Leaf 1971 Actress, writer, director Henrietta Lowell

Such Good Friends 1971 Writer N/A Under pseudonym, Esther Dale

The Heartbreak Kid 1972 Director N/A

Mikey and Nicky 1976 Writer, director, actress Woman on TV (voice) Uncredited as actress

Heaven Can Wait 1978 Co-writer N/A

California Suite 1978 Actress Millie Michaels

Reds 1981 Co-writer N/A Uncredited

Tootsie 1982 Co-writer N/A Uncredited

Labyrinth 1986 Co-writer N/A Uncredited

Ishtar 1987 Writer, director N/A

In the Spirit 1990 Actress Marianne Flan

Wolf 1994 Actress Operator (voice) Uncredited

Dangerous Minds 1995 Co-writer N/A Uncredited

The Birdcage 1996 Writer N/A

Primary Colors 1998 Writer N/A

Small Time Crooks 2000 Actress May

Mike Nichols: American Masters 2016 Director N/A Television documentary

Crisis in Six Scenes 2016 Actress Kay 6 episodes

Awards and honours[edit]

May receiving the Medal of Arts award from President Obama, July 13, 2013[24]

May has received recognition for her writing, with her first Writers Guild of America nomination coming in 1971 for her debut film, A New Leaf (which she directed and in which she co-starred).[25] Further writing honours include an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, with Warren Beatty,[26] and similarly that years' Writers Guild of America award for Heaven Can Wait (1978).[25] Other writing awards include a Saturn Award for Best Writing with Warren Beatty
Warren Beatty
in 1978 for the same movie,[26] and a nomination for a WGA for The Birdcage (1996),[25] as well as a BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Primary Colors (1998),[27] and Oscar and WGA nominations for the same movie.[25][27] For her acting, her accolades include a nomination for a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a musical or comedy for A New Leaf (1971),[28] and winning the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Small Time Crooks
Small Time Crooks
(2000).[22] May was awarded the National Medal of Arts
National Medal of Arts
for her lifetime contributions by president Barack Obama, in a ceremony in the White House on July 10, 2013.[29] In January 2016, the Writer's Guild of America-West announced that May would receive its 2016 Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement at the Writer's Guild of America award ceremony in Los Angeles
Los Angeles
on February 13.[25][27] Further reading[edit]

Quart, Barbara Koenig (1988). "American Women Directors (Chapter 3)". Women Directors: The Emergence of a New Cinema. New York, NY, USA: Greenwood-Prager. pp. 37–51 and passim. ISBN 0313391106. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 


^ https://variety.com/2016/film/news/elaine-may-honor-writers-guild-1201682905/ ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as Nachman, Gerald (2003). "Double Jeopardy: Mike Nichols
Mike Nichols
and Elaine May". Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s. New York, NY, USA: Pantheon Books. pp. 318–362 and passim. ISBN 0307490726. OCLC 50339527. Retrieved 31 January 2016.  ^ a b Quart, Barbara Koenig (1988). "American Women Directors (Chapter 3)". Women Directors: The Emergence of a New Cinema. New York, NY, USA: Greenwood-Prager. pp. 37–51 and passim. ISBN 0313391106. Retrieved 31 January 2016.  ^ "Person Details for Marvin May, "California, County Marriages, 1850-1952" — FamilySearch.org". familysearch.org. Retrieved February 1, 2016.  ^ a b c d e f Thompson, Thomas (1967). "What Ever Happened to Elaine May?" (print). Life. 63 (4, July 28): 54–59. ISSN 0024-3019. Retrieved 31 January 2016. Since She and Mike Nichols
Mike Nichols
Broke Up Their Famous Comedy Team, She has had Flops, Problems and Now, at Last, a New Success.  ^ Feeney, Mark (2009). "Like His Films, Donen Exudes Style and Wit" (online). The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe
(October 4): 1–3, esp. 3. Retrieved 31 January 2016. Subtitle: Famed director Stanley Donen, the subject of a retrospective at the Harvard Film Archive, visits this week.  ^ Heilpern, John (2013). Tim Shaeffer, illustrations. "Hollywood Conversations: Out to Lunch with Stanley Donen" (online, print). Vanity Fair (February 28 (March, print)). Retrieved 31 January 2016. Subtitle: The last of the golden-age Hollywood directors still believes in romance.  ^ Seham, Amy E. (2001). "The First-Wave Paradigm (Chapter 1)". Whose Improv Is It Anyway?: Beyond Second City. Jackson, MS, USA: University Press of Mississippi. pp. 11, 14–16, 229. ISBN 160473759X. Retrieved 31 January 2016.  ^ Kashner, Sam (2008). "The Movies: Here's to You, Mr. Nichols, The Making of The Graduate" (online, print). Vanity Fair (February 29). Retrieved 31 January 2016.  Reprinted in Graydon Carter's Vanity Fair's Tales of Hollywood: Rebels, Reds, and Graduates,, New York, NT, USA: Penguin, p. 169ff. ^ Nichols, Mike & May, Elaine, acting; Arthur Penn, producer (1998) [1960]. "Mother and Son [track 4]". An Evening With Mike Nichols And Elaine May
Elaine May
(Original Cast Recording) (audio CD [vinyl]). New York, NY, USA [Chicago, IL, USA]: PolyGram Records [Mercury Records]. ASIN B000007Q8O. Retrieved 31 January 2016.  ^ Lavin, Suzanne (2004). "Overview (Chapter 1)". Women and Comedy in Solo Performance: Phyllis Diller, Lily Tomlin
Lily Tomlin
and Roseanne. New York, NY, USA: Routledge-Taylor & Francis. pp. 2, 9f, 43. ISBN 0203643461. Retrieved 31 January 2016.  ^ Brantley, Ben (2002). "Theater Review: Is She a Serious Actress? XXXtremely" (online). The New York Times
The New York Times
(December 12). Retrieved 31 January 2016. Good acting is pretty common to the American stage and screen; bad acting, perhaps, even more so… / A master class in this delicate art is now being offered by Jeannie Berlin, who is appearing in Elaine May's Adult Entertainment, the often very funny, overstretched comedy sketch that opened last night at the Variety Arts Theater under the direction of Stanley Donen.  ^ Isherwood, Charles (2011). "Each Family, Tortured in Its Own Way" (online). The New York Times
The New York Times
(October 20). Retrieved 31 January 2016. Mothers come in for some serious savaging in “Relatively Speaking,” a reasonably savory tasting platter of comedies by Ethan Coen, Elaine May
Elaine May
and Woody Allen
Woody Allen
that opened on Thursday night at the Brooks Atkinson Theater… / These plays are not going to do anything much in the way of reputation burnishing for their three celebrated authors — and certainly none is required — but they are packed with nifty zingers and have been directed by John Turturro
John Turturro
with a boisterous flair for socking home the borscht-belt humor. / Ms. May’s “George Is Dead” is, for most of its running time, a delicious study in the bliss of narcissism… Marlo Thomas
Marlo Thomas
plays a pampered princess named Doreen who comes …that her husband has just been killed.  ^ "Ishtar". Metacritic.  ^ "Elaine May’s ‘American Masters’ Documentary on Mike Nichols", The Film Stage, Feb. 1, 2016 ^ " Stanley Donen
Stanley Donen
gearing up to direct his first feature in 30 years". moviepilot.com. December 3, 2013. Retrieved December 14, 2013.  ^ Foster, Gwendolyn Audrey. Women Film Directors: An International Bio-critical Dictionary, Greenwood Publishing (1995) p. 246 ^ Canby, Vincent, "A New Leaf (1971): Love Turns 'New Leaf' at Music Hall", The New York Times, March 12, 1971. Retrieved 2011-01-02. ^ California Suite(1978) - Walter Matthau
Walter Matthau
Tribute. August 30, 2013. Retrieved February 1, 2016 – via YouTube.  ^ Pardi, Robert (2016). " Elaine May
Elaine May
Biography". Elaine May
Elaine May
Films… Filmography… Biography… Career… Awards (online). filmdirectorssite.com. Retrieved 31 January 2016.  ^ a b Lax, Eric. Conversations with Woody Allen: His Films, the Movies, and Moviemaking, Knopf Doubleday Publishing (2007) p. 161 ^ a b Awards and Nominations for Small Time Crooks, Woody Allen
Woody Allen
Movies ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (January 25, 2016). " Woody Allen
Woody Allen
Amazon Series Sets Cast: He Stars With Elaine May
Elaine May
& Miley Cyrus". Deadline. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 25 April 2016.  ^ May receiving the Medal of Arts award from President Obama, July 13, 2013 ^ a b c d e Petski, Denise (2016). " Elaine May
Elaine May
To Receive WGA Screenwriting Honor" (online). deadline.com (January 19). Retrieved 31 January 2016. Comedy screenwriter-director-actress Elaine May
Elaine May
will receive the WGAW’s 2016 Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement at the WGA Awards L.A. ceremony on February 13.  ^ a b NYT Staff (2010). "Heaven Can Wait (1978): Awards; Nominations" (online). The New York Times. Retrieved 31 January 2016.  ^ a b c McNary, Dave (2016). " Elaine May
Elaine May
Honored by Writers Guild of America" (online). Variety (January 19). Retrieved 31 January 2016. Elaine May
Elaine May
will receive the Writers Guild of America West’s Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement to honor her career and body of work.  ^ DiMare, Philip C. Movies in American History: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1, ABC-CLIO (2011) pp. 738-739 ^ "President Obama to Award 2012 National Medal of Arts
National Medal of Arts
and National Humanities Medal". whitehouse.gov. Retrieved February 1, 2016. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Elaine May.

Elaine May
Elaine May
on IMDb Elaine May
Elaine May
at the Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database
video: "Mother and Son" act on YouTube, 6 min. video: " Elaine May
Elaine May
Salutes Mike Nichols
Mike Nichols
at the AFI Life Achievement Award" (2010) Video on YouTube, 8 min. video: " Elaine May
Elaine May
Salutes Warren Beatty
Warren Beatty
at the AFI Life Achievement Award (2008) on YouTube, 3 min.

v t e

Elaine May


A New Leaf (1971) The Heartbreak Kid (1972) Mikey and Nicky
Mikey and Nicky
(1976) Ishtar (1987) Mike Nichols: American Masters (2016)


Nichols and May The Birdcage
The Birdcage
(1996 screenplay)

Awards for Elaine May

v t e

BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
(1983) Bruce Robinson
Bruce Robinson
(1984) Richard Condon and Janet Roach (1985) Kurt Luedtke (1986) Claude Berri
Claude Berri
and Gérard Brach (1987) Jean-Claude Carrière
Jean-Claude Carrière
and Philip Kaufman
Philip Kaufman
(1988) Christopher Hampton
Christopher Hampton
(1989) Nicholas Pileggi
Nicholas Pileggi
and Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese
(1990) Dick Clement, Roddy Doyle
Roddy Doyle
and Ian La Frenais (1991) Michael Tolkin
Michael Tolkin
(1992) Steven Zaillian (1993) Paul Attanasio
Paul Attanasio
(1994) John Hodge (1995) Anthony Minghella
Anthony Minghella
(1996) Baz Luhrmann
Baz Luhrmann
and Craig Pearce
Craig Pearce
(1997) Elaine May
Elaine May
(1998) Neil Jordan
Neil Jordan
(1999) Stephen Gaghan
Stephen Gaghan
(2000) Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Roger S. H. Schulman and Joe Stillman (2001) Charlie Kaufman
Charlie Kaufman
and Donald Kaufman (2002) Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson
and Fran Walsh (2003) Alexander Payne
Alexander Payne
and Jim Taylor (2004) Larry McMurtry
Larry McMurtry
and Diana Ossana (2005) Jeremy Brock and Peter Morgan (2006) Ronald Harwood (2007) Simon Beaufoy (2008) Jason Reitman
Jason Reitman
and Sheldon Turner (2009) Aaron Sorkin
Aaron Sorkin
(2010) Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan (2011) David O. Russell
David O. Russell
(2012) Steve Coogan
Steve Coogan
and Jeff Pope
Jeff Pope
(2013) Anthony McCarten (2014) Adam McKay
Adam McKay
and Charles Randolph (2015) Luke Davies
Luke Davies
(2016) James Ivory
James Ivory

v t e

Golden Raspberry Awards
Golden Raspberry Awards
for Worst Director


Robert Greenwald (1980) Michael Cimino
Michael Cimino
(1981) Ken Annakin
Ken Annakin
/ Terence Young (1982) Peter Sasdy (1983) John Derek
John Derek
(1984) Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone
(1985) Prince (1986) Norman Mailer
Norman Mailer
/ Elaine May
Elaine May
(1987) Blake Edwards
Blake Edwards
/ Stewart Raffill
Stewart Raffill
(1988) William Shatner
William Shatner
(1989) John Derek
John Derek
(1990) Michael Lehmann (1991) David Seltzer
David Seltzer
(1992) Jennifer Lynch (1993) Steven Seagal
Steven Seagal
(1994) Paul Verhoeven
Paul Verhoeven
(1995) Andrew Bergman (1996) Kevin Costner
Kevin Costner
(1997) Gus Van Sant
Gus Van Sant
(1998) Barry Sonnenfeld
Barry Sonnenfeld
(1999) Roger Christian (2000)


Tom Green
Tom Green
(2001) Guy Ritchie
Guy Ritchie
(2002) Martin Brest (2003) Pitof (2004) John Asher
John Asher
(2005) M. Night Shyamalan
M. Night Shyamalan
(2006) Chris Sivertson (2007) Uwe Boll
Uwe Boll
(2008) Michael Bay
Michael Bay
(2009) M. Night Shyamalan
M. Night Shyamalan
(2010) Dennis Dugan (2011) Bill Condon (2012) Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Steve Carr, Rusty Cundieff, James Duffy, Griffin Dunne, Peter Farrelly, Patrik Forsberg, Will Graham, James Gunn, Bob Odenkirk, Brett Ratner, and Jonathan van Tulleken (2013) Michael Bay
Michael Bay
(2014) Josh Trank
Josh Trank
(2015) Dinesh D'Souza
Dinesh D'Souza
and Bruce Schooley (2016) Tony Leondis (2017)

v t e

National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress

Marjorie Rhodes
Marjorie Rhodes
(1967) Billie Whitelaw
Billie Whitelaw
(1968) Siân Phillips
Siân Phillips
/ Delphine Seyrig
Delphine Seyrig
(1969) Lois Smith
Lois Smith
(1970) Ellen Burstyn
Ellen Burstyn
(1971) Jeannie Berlin (1972) Valentina Cortese
Valentina Cortese
(1973) Bibi Andersson
Bibi Andersson
(1974) Lily Tomlin
Lily Tomlin
(1975) Jodie Foster
Jodie Foster
(1976) Ann Wedgeworth (1977) Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep
(1978) Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep
(1979) Mary Steenburgen
Mary Steenburgen
(1980) Maureen Stapleton
Maureen Stapleton
(1981) Jessica Lange
Jessica Lange
(1982) Sandra Bernhard
Sandra Bernhard
(1983) Melanie Griffith
Melanie Griffith
(1984) Anjelica Huston
Anjelica Huston
(1985) Dianne Wiest
Dianne Wiest
(1986) Kathy Baker
Kathy Baker
(1987) Mercedes Ruehl
Mercedes Ruehl
(1988) Anjelica Huston
Anjelica Huston
(1989) Annette Bening
Annette Bening
(1990) Jane Horrocks (1991) Judy Davis
Judy Davis
(1992) Madeleine Stowe
Madeleine Stowe
(1993) Dianne Wiest
Dianne Wiest
(1994) Joan Allen
Joan Allen
(1995) Barbara Hershey
Barbara Hershey
(1996) Julianne Moore
Julianne Moore
(1997) Judi Dench
Judi Dench
(1998) Chloë Sevigny
Chloë Sevigny
(1999) Elaine May
Elaine May
(2000) Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren
(2001) Patricia Clarkson
Patricia Clarkson
(2002) Patricia Clarkson
Patricia Clarkson
(2003) Virginia Madsen
Virginia Madsen
(2004) Amy Adams
Amy Adams
(2005) Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep
(2006) Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett
(2007) Hanna Schygulla
Hanna Schygulla
(2008) Mo'Nique
(2009) Olivia Williams
Olivia Williams
(2010) Jessica Chastain
Jessica Chastain
(2011) Amy Adams
Amy Adams
(2012) Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence
(2013) Patricia Arquette
Patricia Arquette
(2014) Kristen Stewart
Kristen Stewart
(2015) Michelle Williams (2016) Laurie Metcalf
Laurie Metcalf

v t e

Saturn Award for Best Writing

William Peter Blatty
William Peter Blatty
(1973) Ib Melchior/ Harlan Ellison
Harlan Ellison
(1974/75) Jimmy Sangster
Jimmy Sangster
(1976) George Lucas
George Lucas
(1977) Elaine May
Elaine May
and Warren Beatty
Warren Beatty
(1978) Nicholas Meyer
Nicholas Meyer
(1979) William Peter Blatty
William Peter Blatty
(1980) Lawrence Kasdan
Lawrence Kasdan
(1981) Melissa Mathison
Melissa Mathison
(1982) Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury
(1983) James Cameron
James Cameron
and Gale Anne Hurd
Gale Anne Hurd
(1984) Tom Holland (1985) James Cameron
James Cameron
(1986) Michael Miner and Edward Neumeier
Edward Neumeier
(1987) Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg (1988) William Peter Blatty
William Peter Blatty
(1989/90) Ted Tally (1991) James V. Hart
James V. Hart
(1992) Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton
and David Koepp (1993) Jim Harrison
Jim Harrison
and Wesley Strick
Wesley Strick
(1994) Andrew Kevin Walker (1995) Kevin Williamson (1996) Mike Werb and Michael Colleary (1997) Andrew Niccol
Andrew Niccol
(1998) Charlie Kaufman
Charlie Kaufman
(1999) David Hayter
David Hayter
(2000) Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg
(2001) Scott Frank and Jon Cohen (2002) Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson
(2003) Alvin Sargent (2004) Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan
and David S. Goyer
David S. Goyer
(2005) Michael Dougherty
Michael Dougherty
and Dan Harris (2006) Brad Bird
Brad Bird
(2007) Christopher and Jonathan Nolan
Jonathan Nolan
(2008) James Cameron
James Cameron
(2009) Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan
(2010) Jeff Nichols
Jeff Nichols
(2011) Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino
(2012) Spike Jonze
Spike Jonze
(2013) Christopher and Jonathan Nolan
Jonathan Nolan
(2014) Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams, and Michael Arndt
Michael Arndt
(2015) Eric Heisserer (2016)

v t e

Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay

Adapted Drama (1969–1983, retired)

Waldo Salt (1969) Robert Anderson (1970) Ernest Tidyman (1971) Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola
and Mario Puzo
Mario Puzo
(1972) Waldo Salt and Norman Wexler (1973) Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola
and Mario Puzo
Mario Puzo
(1974) Bo Goldman
Bo Goldman
and Lawrence Hauben (1975) William Goldman
William Goldman
(1976) Denne Bart Petitclerc
Denne Bart Petitclerc
(1977) Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone
(1978) Robert Benton (1979) Alvin Sargent (1980) Ernest Thompson
Ernest Thompson
(1981) Costa-Gavras
and Donald E. Stewart (1982) Julius J. Epstein (1983)

Adapted Comedy (1969–1983, retired)

Arnold Schulman (1969) Ring Lardner Jr.
Ring Lardner Jr.
(1970) John Paxton (1971) Jay Presson Allen
Jay Presson Allen
(1972) Alvin Sargent (1973) Lionel Chetwynd and Mordecai Richler
Mordecai Richler
(1974) Neil Simon
Neil Simon
(1975) Blake Edwards
Blake Edwards
and Frank Waldman (1976) Larry Gelbart
Larry Gelbart
(1977) Elaine May
Elaine May
and Warren Beatty
Warren Beatty
/ Bernard Slade (1978) Jerzy Kosiński
Jerzy Kosiński
(1979) Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker
Jerry Zucker
(1980) Gerard Ayres (1981) Blake Edwards
Blake Edwards
(1982) James L. Brooks
James L. Brooks

Adapted Screenplay (1984–present)

Bruce Robinson
Bruce Robinson
(1984) Richard Condon and Janet Roach (1985) Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
(1986) Steve Martin
Steve Martin
(1987) Christopher Hampton
Christopher Hampton
(1988) Alfred Uhry
Alfred Uhry
(1989) Michael Blake (1990) Ted Tally (1991) Michael Tolkin
Michael Tolkin
(1992) Steven Zaillian (1993) Eric Roth (1994) Emma Thompson
Emma Thompson
(1995) Billy Bob Thornton
Billy Bob Thornton
(1996) Curtis Hanson
Curtis Hanson
and Brian Helgeland (1997) Scott Frank (1998) Alexander Payne
Alexander Payne
and Jim Taylor (1999) Stephen Gaghan
Stephen Gaghan
(2000) Akiva Goldsman
Akiva Goldsman
(2001) David Hare (2002) Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini
Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini
(2003) Alexander Payne
Alexander Payne
and Jim Taylor (2004) Larry McMurtry
Larry McMurtry
and Diana Ossana (2005) William Monahan
William Monahan
(2006) Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (2007) Simon Beaufoy (2008) Jason Reitman
Jason Reitman
and Sheldon Turner (2009) Aaron Sorkin
Aaron Sorkin
(2010) Alexander Payne, Jim Rash, and Nat Faxon
Nat Faxon
(2011) Chris Terrio (2012) Billy Ray (2013) Graham Moore (2014) Adam McKay
Adam McKay
and Charles Randolph (2015) Eric Heisserer (2016) James Ivory
James Ivory

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 85084548 LCCN: n87146853 ISNI: 0000 0001 2141 928X GND: 139961739 SUDOC: 061418544 BNF: cb141201268 (data) MusicBrainz: aaad44cf-da70-41f3-b402-7d61ddd34cf8 BNE: XX1296343 SN