Elaine May

Director + Screenwriter and Actress
Born Apr 21, 1932

Elaine May is an American film director, screenwriter and actress. She achieved her greatest fame in the 1950s from her improvisational comedy routines in partnership with Mike Nichols. She is a two-time Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and also the mother of Oscar nominee Jeannie Berlin.… Read More

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Browse recent news and stories about Elaine May.


Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Elaine May.


1932 Birth May was born Elaine Iva Berlin in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1932, the daughter of Jewish parents, theater director/actor Jack Berlin and actress Ida (Aaron) Berlin. … Read More
1941 9 Years Old Elaine May received an Oscar nomination for updating the 1941 film Here Comes Mr. Jordan as Heaven Can Wait (1978).


1950 18 Years Old Soon after moving to Chicago in 1950, May began informally taking classes at the university by auditing, sitting in without enrolling. … Read More


1955 23 Years Old In 1955, May joined a new, off-campus improvisational theater group, The Compass Players, becoming one of its charter members. … Read More
1957 25 Years Old 1 More Event
Nichols was personally asked to leave the Compass Players in 1957 because he and May became too good, which threw the company off balance, noted club manager Jay Landsman. … Read More
1960 28 Years Old 1 More Event
The couple divorced in 1960, and she married lyricist Sheldon Harnick in 1962; they divorced a year later.


1964 32 Years Old In 1964, May married her psychoanalyst, Dr. David L. Rubinfine; they remained married until his death in 1982. … Read More
1969 37 Years Old …  In 1969 she directed the off-Broadway production of Adaptation/Next. … Read More
1971 39 Years Old 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). … Read More


1972 40 Years Old 1 More Event
They reunited for benefits for George McGovern for President in 1972.


1996 64 Years Old May reunited with her former comic partner, Mike Nichols, for The Birdcage in 1996. … Read More
1997 65 Years Old May received her second Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay when she again worked with Nichols on Primary Colors in 1997. … Read More
2013 81 Years Old 1 More Event
May was awarded the National Medal of Arts for her lifetime contributions by president Barack Obama, in a ceremony in the White House on July 10, 2013.
In 2016, she came out of retirement to star in Woody Allen's television series Crisis in Six Scenes on Amazon, her first role since Allen's own Small Time Crooks.
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