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Elaine May
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Filmmaker
    (April 21, 1932- )
    Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Birth name was Elaine Berlin
    Partner with Mike Nichols in a comedy duo
    Wrote the plays 'Adaptation,' 'After the Night and the Music,' 'Power Plays' and 'Adult Entertainment'
    Directed the films 'A New Leaf' (1971), 'The Heartbreak Kid' (1972), 'Mickey and Nicky' (1976) and 'Ishtar' (1987)
    She said of her partnership with Nichols, 'The secret we share is that neither one of us likes people very much.'
    When Tommy Smothers asked her and Nichols, 'So did you guys have an affair or what?' she replied, 'Exactly.'
    Her marriage to composer Sheldon Harnick was so brief, she joked that she 'got custody of the cake.'
    As a director, she was a perfectionist who often shot scenes 50 or more times before she was satisfied.
    'Ishtar' was such a massive flop that, 20 years later, she has not been allowed to direct another film.
    She and Nichols were so quick at improvisation that they were dubbed 'the world's fastest humans.'
    She made a post-Ishtar comeback as an actress (winning a National Society of Film Critics Award as best supporting actress for 'Small Time Crooks' in 2000) and a screenwriter (earning an Oscar nomination for 'Primary Colors' in 1998).
    She said, 'If all the people who hate Ishtar had seen it, I would be a rich woman today.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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