‘Miss May Does Not Exist’ casts Elaine May as the leading lady of her own life

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Carrie Courogen Photo credit: Sylvie Rosokoff

The subject of writer Carrie Courogen’s latest book is elusive, but that didn’t stop her from writing a deeply reported and telling biography about the multi-hyphenate Elaine May. The book is Miss May Does Not Exist: The Life and Work of Elaine May, Hollywood’s Hidden Genius. May was part of a groundbreaking comedy duo with Mike Nichols in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, then went on to write and direct films — some infamously (Ishtar) and some with no credit at all. 

Courogen tells The Treatment about her adamant desire to bring May’s story and talent to the foreground (in contrast to the many times May has been considered only as a supporting player). She reveals that empathy was crucial to May’s most withering satire, and she talks about what might have been if Cary Grant had been cast in one of May’s films — as May had long hoped.




Rebecca Mooney