Mike Nichols' death Mike Nichols died at the age of 83. Remember the director through some of his most famous quotes. Photo: Reuters

Hollywood lost one of its biggest talents with the passing of Mike Nichols, who was best known for directing iconic films like “The Graduate” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” He was 83. Nichols' death was confirmed by ABC News President James Goldston Thursday morning.

According to an ABC representative, the German-born artist, who was married to ABC News veteran Diane Sawyer, died of cardiac arrest.

"I am writing with the very sad news that Diane's husband, the incomparable Mike Nichols, passed away suddenly on Wednesday evening," Goldston wrote to his staff in a note. "In a triumphant career that spanned over six decades, Mike created some of the most iconic works of American film, television and theater. He was a true visionary, winning the highest honors in the arts for his work as a director, writer, producer and comic, and he was one of a tiny few to win the EGOT -- an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony."

While fans of the critically acclaimed director mourn his death, take a moment to honor his life’s work and savor his most memorable quotes:

On Directing

“I love to take actors to a place where they open a vein. That’s the job. The key is that I make it safe for them to open the vein.”  -- IMDb

“There’s nothing better than discovering, to your own astonishment, what you’re meant to do. It’s like falling in love.” -- Vanity Fair, 2008

"It's not a filmmaker's job to explain his technique but to tell his story the best way he can." -- IMDb

"A movie is like a person. Either you trust it or you don't." -- IMDb

On Taking Chances

“The only safe thing is to take a chance.” -- AFI Awards, 2010


On Marilyn Monroe

“I was standing right behind Marilyn, completely invisible, when she sang ‘Happy birthday, Mr. President.' And indeed, the corny thing happened: Her dress split for my benefit, and there was Marilyn, and yes, indeed, she didn’t wear any underwear.” -- The New York Times, 2012

On Moving to America

“American society to me and my brother was thrilling because, first of all, the food made noise. We were so excited about Rice Krispies and Coca-Cola. We had only silent food in our country, and we loved listening to our lunch and breakfast.” -- IMDb

“There's nothing in the American dream about character. It's a serious flaw.” -- Bloomberg, 2012

On His First Job

“When I was 17, for my first job, I worked at the midtown Howard Johnson's. A customer asked me what our ice cream flavor of the week was, which was a dumb question, because there was a huge banner showing that it was maple. So I told him that it was chicken. The customer laughed, but the manager fired me immediately. They were bastards there." -- IMDb

On Being Legendary

“If you want to be a legend, God help you, it's so easy. You just do one thing. You can be the master of suspense, say. But if you want to be as invisible as is practical, then it's fun to do a lot of different things.” -- The New York Times, 2009

On Silence

“I came to love silence, because it's so rare, and it's now my favorite aural condition.” -- The New York Times, 2009