From acting to producing and directing, Jack Nicholson’s cap has no shortage of feathers. Born on April 22, 1937, the part-time screenwriter retired as a legend. His contribution to the film industry will forever remain.

Since making his debut in acting, Jack Nicholson featured/contributed to at least 72 films. This made him a popular figure on our screens. However, few people know of his personal life and path to success. Here, we provide some lesser-known Jack Nicholson facts to keep you updated.

1. Jack Nicholson Thought His Mother Was His Elder Sister

Contrary to the career success that Jack Nicholson boasts, his personal life isn’t one that he is always willing to talk about. For the longest time, he grew up believing that his mother, June, was his elder sister and his grandmother, Ethel May, was his mother.

In 1936, June, who was 17 then, got pregnant to an already married Don Furcillo-Rose (Jack’s biological father). Upon discovering this, Ethel threatened Don with the Mann Act (a law put in place to govern prostitution and child trafficking but also criminalized consensual deeds).

Don left June, and the following year, Jack Nicholson was born. The star didn’t know this until 1974 when fame struck, and a reporter did a background check on him. It was here that Jack realized who his birth parents were.

At the time of the discovery, Ethel and June had passed away, so there was no chance of hearing the truth from the horse’s mouth. Jack could only mesmerize by their ability to keep the secret from him for so long.

2. He Made His Film Debut in the Movie “Cry Baby Killer”

Jack Nicholson’s acting debut came when he featured in a low-budget horror film, “Cry Baby Killer.” He played the role of a teenager who mistakenly believed he had killed someone. Even though this movie didn’t give him his breakthrough, it was Jack’s biggest stepping stone to success.

He continued acting throughout the 60s, playing different roles in films such as “The Terror (1963), Ride in the Whirlwind (1965), and The Shooting (1966). Most of these were horror movies filled with dark humor.

3. His Breakthrough Film was “Easy Rider”

Towards the end of the 60s, Jack Nicholson finally made his breakthrough in the industry through his role in “Easy Rider.” He played an alcoholic attorney, George Hanson, so well that he earned his first Academy Award nomination. Even though he didn’t win, the 1969 film put his name right where he wanted.

After that, it was nomination after another. Jack starred as a disaffected former musical prodigy in “Five Easy Pieces, released in 1970. It was the first time he played a leading role and was nominated for the best performance award. He developed something of a cult following henceforth.

4. He Won His First Oscar on His Fifth Nomination

After his first film, Jack Nicholson’s career was on an upward trajectory. He attracted fans globally, and very few doubted his talent. However, it took him 5 academy award nominations to finally win the prestigious Oscar award.

Jack’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest performance gave him his first of three wins. He accepted the award at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, California. The other films that handed him his wins are “Terms of Endearment” and “As Good as It Gets.”

Other than the 3 Academy Awards, Jack Nicholson won 6 Golden Globe Awards, 3 BAFTA Awards, one Screen Actors Guild Award, and a single Grammy Award.

5. Jack Nicholson Received Oscar Nominations in Every Decade Since the 60s

Apart from Michael Caine, Jack Nicholson is the only person to receive an Oscar nomination every decade from the 60s to the 00s. This is no mean feat– his evenly distributed 12 academy nominations underline how legendary he was and highlights his consistency and hard work.

6. “How Do You Know” Was Nicholson’s Last Film

Jack Nicholson’s last movie to play a part in was the romantic comedy “How Do You Know” released in 2010. There were reports of the veteran suffering from memory loss issues in 2013, but not officially. The legendary actor hasn’t featured actively in any film since then.

However, an archive video of Jack’s character appeared in “Room 237,” released in 2012. In 2019, his character Jack Torrance also appeared in The Shining Sequel, Doctor Sleep – another person plays the role.

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Last Update: July 24, 2023