Elaine May Through The Years

Forward Magazine - - HEIRLOOMS -

1950

Al­though she never

re­ceived a high school diploma, May au­dited classes at the Univer­sity o Chicago at a time ( — ) when Mike Ni­chols and Su­san Son­tag were un­der­grad­u­ates.

May and Ni­chols were

mem­bers o Chicago’s Com­pass Play­ers, a seedbed o im­pro­vi­sa­tional com­edy that lour­ished rom to ’. Other Com­pass mem­bers in­cluded Alan Arkin, Ed As­ner, Shel­ley Berman, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara. Mem­bers o Com­pass went on to ound Sec­ond City.

In the late s,

“Teenagers,” a land­mark work in the his­tory o im­prov, made the rep­u­ta­tions o Ni­chols and May in Chicago.

The duo con­quered

New York with “Mother and Son” in ‡. In the au­di­ence one night was com­edy writer Woody Allen. He vol­un­teered to write or them — only to be told that they wrote or them­selves.

Then vice pres­i­dent

Richard Nixon in­tro­duced May at the Emmy Awards.

1970

“A New Lea” was

May’s ƒ„†ƒ di­rec­to­rial de­but. She also wrote and starred in it.

Ac­cord­ing to “Toot­sie”

star Dustin Ho man, script doc­tor May “was the one who made the movie work.”

May on the in­spi­ra­tion or the ƒ„…† ilm “Ishtar”: “Oddly enough, when I made this movie, Ron­ald Rea­gan was pres­i­dent and there was Iran-Con­tra, we were sup­port­ing Iran and Iraq. We put in Sad­dam. We had taken out the shah. Khome­ini was there. I re­mem­ber look­ing at Ron­ald Rea­gan and think­ing: He’s rom Hol­ly­wood; he’s a re­ally nice man. It’s pos­si­ble the only movies he’s ever seen about the Mid­dle East are the road movies with Hope and Crosby, and I thought I would make that movie.”

2010

In May gave

an Amer­i­can Film In­sti­tute trib­ute to Ni­chols. And how­ever ar-etched this seems, it is true that Ni­chols and Al­bert Ein­stein were dis­tant cousins.

May’s long­time

part­ner is Stan­ley Do­nen, di­rec­tor o “Cha­rade” and “Sin­gin’ in the Rain.” She bought him a dog tag, which he wears. It reads, “I ound, please re­turn to Elaine May.”

WIKI­ME­DIA Ni­chols and May, in 1960

GETTY IM­AGES

Dustin Ho man as ‘Toot­sie’

Movie poster or ‘Ishtar’

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