Taurus Apr 21, 1932 Philadelphia Actor, Director and Writer
Elaine May is an American screenwriter, film director, actress and comedian. 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 screenwriter. She has been nominated twice for an Academy Award, for Heaven Can Wait and Primary Colors. In 1996, she reunited with Nichols to write the screenplay for The Birdcage, directed by Nichols. She received the National Medal of Arts in 2012 for her unique contributions.
After studying acting with theater coach 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."