Mike Nichols, Dick Van Dyke and Elaine May took top honors at the eighth annual American Comedy Awards Sunday night at the Shrine Auditorium — although the recent deaths of comedy veterans John Candy and Bill Hicks cast a solemn tenor over the evening.

Nearly three dozen Hollywood notables, including Jack Nicholson, Joe Pesci, Rosie Perez, Lily Tomlin, Jonathan Winters, Candice Bergen, UA prexy John Calley and Diane Sawyer joined more than 1,000 members of the comedy community for the George Schlatter production, which ABC will air in May.

Nichols won the Creative Achievement Award, while Van Dyke and May garnered Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Other winners, chosen by a ballot sent to 1,500 entertainment industry members, included Helen Hunt for “Mad About You,” David Letterman for “Late Night With David Letterman,” Tracey Ullman for “Tracey Ullman Takes on New York, ” Billy Crystal for the “65th Annual Academy Awards,” Meg Ryan for “Sleepless in Seattle,” Robin Williams for “Mrs. Doubtfire,” Lily Tomlin for “Short Cuts,” Charles Grodin for “Dave,” Julia Louis-Dreyfus for “Seinfeld” and Rip Torn for “The Larry Sanders Show.” Margaret Cho and Carrot Top won for best stand-up comics.

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