Watch This: Richard Nixon Opens for Elaine May & Mike Nichols in 1959

The Emmy Awards were a wild proposition in 1959. Here, Vice President and 1960 Presidential Contender Richard Nixon drops a characteristically awkward, tone-deaf speech about the "freedom to change the channel" or something like that, before yielding the stage to Elaine May and Mike Nichols, who tear it down. Their "Total Mediocrity Award" sketch is as big a hit as Nixon's crude speech was a bomb.

Warning, the quality of this video is on par with Mars Rover transmissions, but it's worth it.


Nichols, who died last year, was born on this day in 1931. He and his brilliant comedy partner Elaine May each changed the face of film with their incisive and humane work. Recently it was announced that May will direct the PBS American Masters documentary about Nichols. That's something to look forward to.

Here are Nichols and May talking film in 2006. This gets into real grand-master territory and is worth your time if you are a filmmaker or are into the process of filmmaking.

"The thing I love most about movies, and the thing I love most about other people's work, is small things. If you think about your favorite thing in a movie or in a play or in a performance ever, it's always something very small that you can barely tell other people about. It's so small but it just makes you gasp. Because it's like a little pebble of truth. It's something true. And harvesting them, because after all the acting's done by other people, is still something that I think is so thrilling. With luck you can catch that wind. It can still be done."