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Real Name: John Joseph Nicholson
Birthday: April 22, 1937
Place of Birth: Neptune, NJ
Education: Manasquan High School in NJ

 

Biography:

Jack Nicholson is the Hollywood celebrity who is most like a character in some enduring tale of our times. At the age of 37, he learned that the woman he had always believed to be his mother was his grandmother and that his two older siblings were really his mother June and his Aunt Lorraine. "She's my sister. . . she's my daughter. . . she's my sister and my daughter." Jack began his lengthy career in the Roger Corman produced "Cry Baby Killer" (1958) and over the next twenty years his films would showcase a low key acting approach that integrated the secure manliness of old Hollywood types with the cool fascination of a new generation.

Upon graduating from high school in New Jersey, Jack visited Los Angeles, where June had relocated, and stayed after landing a job as an errand boy in MGM's cartoon development department. He visited Jeff Corey's famous acting class, being introduced to Towne. 

Boredom with acting led to his first screenwriting credit, shared with Don Devlin, on the thriller "Thunder Island" (1963), a film in which he did not act. The actor lobbied for the role passed up by Rip Torn that would grab the attention of Hollywood, and earn him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. This breakthrough movie was the smash hit "Easy Rider" (1969), as the self-indulgent Southern lawyer who finds a momentary kind of freedom on the road with two long haired bikers. 

The 1970s showed Jack at his best, a great actor mastering his skill from film to film so that his roles never seemed the same. The curvy hair of "Five Easy Pieces" gave way to the middle aged thinning of "The King of Marvin Gardens (1972), then the crew cut of "The Last Detail" (1973) and the center part of "Chinatown" (1974), but always underneath was the funny, hopelessly positive, unknowable actor. Mike Nichols gave him a chance to play a role that mirrored his own life: the neurotic mislead Jonathon in "Carnal Knowledge" (1971). Though the part allowed the actor to display significant range, Nichols may have missed in not exploring the roots of his lead character's performance. Rafelson's "The King of Marvin Gardens" presented  Nicholson as a shy intellectual who escapes his serious behavior by his radio show, but fails to stop his con man brother from his financial schemes. 

"The Last Detail" cast the actor as the Shore Patrol officer Buddusky, who quotes Nietzsche, and sets the rules for escorting Randy Quaid to a Navy prison. The heart of the movies story was the exchange of kindness between the guards and prisoners, and the actors terrific performance earned him another nomination for the Best Actor Oscar.

Roman Polanski's "Chinatown" provided him with possibly his best screen role as detective Jake Gittes, a part he would play again in the sequel "The Two Jakes" (1990). Written for him by longtime acquaintance Towne, the Gittes character combined his personality to that point, and elevated it to the next level. The fact that he had just started dating Huston's daughter Anjelica added a behind the scenes tabloid frenzy when the old man ominously slurred, "Are you sleeping with her?" A great classic movie, "Chinatown" recalled the crime and corruption that helped convert small town Los Angeles to the metropolitan city it is today. 

While not honored by the Academy for for his role of Gittes, he finally won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Randall P McMurphy in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975), which looked at the question "Who's more insane, the keepers or the patients?". His character attacked the institution's system, giving himself over in the end so that others can become "normal" again. 

As the 1970's drew to a close, Jack began leaving behind his more gentle roles for over-the-top goofiness and, satire. He teamed with Marlon Brando for "Missouri Breaks" (1976), and with Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" (1980) kicked off the 1980's, welcoming caricature roles as the distinctive trademark of the "new" version of himself. 

Tim Burton's "Batman" (1990) with Kim Basinger introduced Nicholson as a Hollywood sex symbol and icon, thanks to the back-end deal which earned him a reported $25 million from merchandising profits, plus added cash from the sequel, "Batman Returns" (1992) with Michelle Pfieffer, in which he didn't even act. His character of the Joker dominated the movie, his extensive cartoon effect the perfect backdrop for his bravado and leering psychotic villain. 

He was top rate as the commanding officer who does not want the truth told in Rob Reiner's "A Few Good Men" working with an all-star cast that included Tom Cruise, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, Noah Wyle and Demi Moore.

Danny De Vito's "Hoffa" (1992) gave the actor a role in which he was once again bigger than the movie. His role as a book editor who gradually turns into a werewolf in Mike Nichols' "Wolf" (1994) served as a message about dealing with a mid-life crises. At the beginning of the film, before the wolf bites him, he is quiet and docile, but his change into the wolf man brings intense and increasing self-confidence. Not surprisingly, the actor brought to the table many of his trademark qualities, offering a sardonic, sharp observation on his star power, proving once again there was no limit to how long Jack could get away with such success.

In Sean Penn's "The Crossing Guard" (1995), Nicholson once again played an angry man confronting the wounds of his past. As a jeweler whose daughter had been murdered by a drunk driver, he delivered a novel role that was equal parts blame and heartache, the scenes shared with real life former lover Anjelica Huston (as his ex-wife) were glowing. 

1996 found him reprising his Oscar winning role as Garrett Breedlove opposite Shirley MacLaine in "Evening Star" and playing the twin role of the US President and a dishonest Las Vegas promoter in Tim Burton's "Mars Attacks!" with Glenn Close and Pierce Brosnan, with its insipid comedy just right for the big shoes of his caricature. He then worked with Rafelson for the thriller "Blood and Wine" (1997), before appearing with James L Brooks in an Oscar winning role as a grumpy, homophobic novelist who falls for single parent played by Helen Hunt and comes in contact with gay artist Greg Kinnear in "As Good as It Gets" (1997).

After a three year vacation, he returned to the big screen as Jerry Black in the thriller feature "The Pledge" (2001) another film directed by Sean Penn, and in 2002 made another comeback, teaming with writer-director Alexander Payne for "About Schmidt" (2002), a contemplative, funny story about Warren Schmidt, a miserable retired salesman reflecting on his life, making a cross country journey to attend the wedding of his separated daughter after the death of his wife. His performance was rewarded with several award nominations and trophies, including the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, the actor's twelfth nomination, breaking his own record as the most nominated male actor in Oscar history.

He next teamed with Adam Sandler for "Anger Management" (2003), with both stars adding to the screenplay. Taking his pleasing personality into new territory, he played a new-age anger management psychotherapist who makes things worse, rather than better for his patient played by Sandler. He then took on another starring role when he appeared opposite Diane Keaton in the romantic comedy "Something's Got to Give" (2003), playing an older womanizer with an affection for much younger women who surprises himself by taking up with the mother of one of his striking dates (Amanda Peet) after being bed bound after a heart attack in her beach house. Audiences loved the film and his work earned him another Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

After another brief vacation from the movie screen, the Hollywood icon returned to join an all star cast that included Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg for “The Departed” (2006), a police detective thriller directed by Martin Scorsese, being the first collaboration of the two legends, and based on the Hong Kong thriller “Infernal Affairs”. Jack played the evil and sexually deviant Frank Costello, a mob boss whose group is infiltrated by an undercover cop. But Costello has his own mole inside the South Boston police department, pitting the two departments against each other in a cops and robbers game that looks to weaken the other’s operations while the two moles fight to expose each other knows they exist. 

 

Jack then appeared in the adventure comedy “The Bucket List” (2007) with Morgan Freeman, a comedy directed by Rob Reiner about two incurably ill men who break out of the hospital’s cancer ward and go on a road trip to realize their dreams before they die. Critics were already talking awards before the film even opened in theaters.

  

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