Born In: Manhattan, New York City
Career: One of the highly successful Hollywood actors
Three time Academy Award winner, seven-time Golden Globe winner, three-time BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild Award winner, Jack Nicholson is definitely one of the most successful actors of Hollywood. He is best known for his roles in movies like Easy Rider, Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Shining, Batman, A Few Good Men, As Good as It Gets and The Departed. The talented actor has been nominated for the Academy Award itself a staggering 12 times. He is best known to portray difficult roles of neurotic characters, which usually has shades of gray. With an intriguing personal life and a highly successful professional life, Jack Nicholson still continues to live life to fullest.
Childhood and Early Years
Born on April 22, 1937 in Manhattan, New York, John Joseph ‘Jack’ Nicholson was the son of a showgirl named June Frances Nicholson and Italian American showman Donald Furcillo. He was brought up by his maternal grandmother while his mother pursued her career as a showgirl, since his father left them. For a long time, Nicholson believed that his grandparents were his parents and his mother was actually his sister! This realization dawned upon him when he became famous and the Time magazine did a feature on him. He was sent to the Manasquan High School where, due to his funny antics, he was voted ‘class clown’ by the Class of 1954.
Nicholson moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting and his very first job was as an assistant in the studio of famous animators, Hanna-Barbera. Since he was a talented artist, he was offered the position of an animation artist. He declined since he had always wanted to become an actor. After sometime, he found work as an actor, writer and producer and worked for Roger Corman. His debut was in the movie The Cry Baby Killer (1958), in which he played the role of a juvenile delinquent who shoots two teenagers and flees. His next performance was a small role in the movie The Little Shop of Horrors (1960). This movie slowly gained cult following and was also made into a musical later. He also starred with his then wife Sandra Knight in the movie ‘The Terror’. He steadily began to work hard as a writer since acting jobs were hard to find in the 60’s and also made guest appearances in two episodes of television series The Andy Griffith Show.
Shot to Fame
In 1967, he wrote the screenplay for the movie The Trip, which starred Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. This was a commercial success and he landed in his first major role in 1969 in the movie Easy Ride as the lawyer George Hanson. For his performance, he got his first Academy Award nomination. The following year in 1970, he got his Best Actor nomination for his persona-defining role in the movie Five Easy Pieces. He was Oscar nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for the movies Chinatown and The Last Detail. His first Best Actor Academy Award was won for the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, in which he played the role of Randle P. McMurphy.
After winning his first Oscar, Nicholson began to take on unusual roles. His most phenomenal performance was in the adaptation of the novel of Stephen King by name of The Shining (1980). For his role as a retired astronaut, Garrett Breedlove in the movie Terms of Endearment, he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. His significant movies in the 80s were The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981), Reds (1981), Prizzi's Honor (1985), The Witches of Eastwick (1987), and Ironweed (1987) and he was nominated for the Oscar for Reds, Prizzi's Honor, and Ironweed. An international blockbuster came in the form of Batman, released in 1989, in which Nicholson played the role of the Joker.
In 1992, he received another Academy Award nomination for his role as Colonel Nathan R. Jessep in A Few Good Men. His next Academy Award was for the movie As Good as It Gets, in which he portrayed the role of Melvin Udall, a neurotic author with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, who is drawn into a love-hate relationship with Helen Hunt, who acted as a waitress in a restaurant where he frequently dined. For this movie, Helen Hunt also won the Academy Award for her performance.
Jack Nicholson is infamous for not being able to settle down and has been romantically linked with a number of actresses. He was married only once (to actress Sandra Knight) and has five children from four different women. His longest relationship was with actress Anjelica Huston, from 1973 to 1989, who was the daughter of film director John Huston. Nicholson lived right next door to Marlon Brando and after his death, bought his mansion for $5 million to demolish it on basis that it had developed a lot of mold and was too expensive to rebuild. He has been an ardent supporter of Los Angeles Lakers and has been spotted sitting on the courtside for the past 25 years.