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Who is Jack Nicholson?

By J. Beam
Updated May 17, 2024
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Jack Nicholson is a legendary American actor whose career spans nearly 50 years to date. Nicholson has played a variety of memorable roles in his amazingly long and successful career ranging from Jack Torrance in The Shining to Melvin Udall, the intriguing and brash leading man suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in As Good as it Gets. He is quickly recognized for the notorious line “You can’t handle the truth!” from the 1992 film A Few Good Men and for his villainous role as Batman’s life-long adversary, The Joker.

Born John Joseph Nicholson 22 April, 1937 in New York, New York, Jack Nicholson holds a record 12 Academy Award nominations with 3 wins, more than any other male actor to date. His iconic Hollywood career began in 1958 with his screen debut in The Cry Baby Killers. Jack Nicholson’s first Academy Award nomination didn’t come until 1970 for his role in Easy Rider and his first win was in 1975 for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Jack Nicholson starred in dozens of films and memorable roles. He has worked as a writer and producer in addition to acting.

Jack Nicholson is perhaps one of the most easily recognizable Hollywood legend with his shark-like grin and trademark sunglasses. A die-hard fan of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, Jack Nicholson’s presence at home games is as iconic as the actor himself and the cameras often give viewers a glimpse of his courtside attendance.

Though he is listed in several celebrity rankings for his acting roles, Jack Nicholson rarely gives interviews. However, much of his personal life has still been made public and he’s harnessed a reputation for being a playboy. He has four children with three women, one of whom he was married to. He has no children with previous long-time romantic interest Anjelica Huston.

Jack Nicholson’s most recent film to date is The Bucket List, directed by Rob Reiner and co-starring Morgan Freeman. The film is scheduled for release in 2007. While no one knows for sure how much longer he will continue to grace the silver screen, Jack Nicholson will undoubtedly go down in Hollywood history as the living legend he is.

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Discussion Comments

By StormyKnight — On Mar 08, 2011

I read in Time Magazine that Nicholson was raised thinking that his grandmother was his mother and that his mother was his sister. After he became famous, he did a story for Time Magazine and he finally learned the truth about his own family situation.

By BoatHugger — On Mar 07, 2011

I read in a Jack Nicholson bio that he spent the first 10 years of his career making B-Movies for director/producer Roger Corman. These low-budget, low-paying movies were what he lived on until he was brought into the movie Easy Rider in 1969 where he assumed the role of a disillusioned lawyer.

By OceanSwimmer — On Mar 05, 2011

@grumpyguppy: I’ll try to help you out with that. Jack Nicholson was actually born as John Joseph Nicholson on April 22, 1937 in Neptune, New Jersey. He attended Manasquan High School. He was married from 1962 to 1968 to Sandra Knight. He has been in relationships with Angelica Houston and Lara Flynn Boyle. Nicholson has 5 children (3 daughters and 2 sons).

By GrumpyGuppy — On Mar 04, 2011

Great article but I'm looking for a little bit more information on Nicholson.

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