Jack Nicholson, the actor, is famous for his well-rounded performances and his collection of Academy Awards. But behind all the awards and recognition was a secret even he did not know about until he reached the age of 37.
Time Magazine wanted to verify with Jack Nicholson if June, his older sister, was actually his biological mother before they ran an article about him. Nicholson, who didn’t know then, denied the information. He later found out it was true.
Who is Jack Nicholson?
On April 22, 1937, Jack Nicholson was born in Neptune, New Jersey. He was raised by John Nicholson, a department store window dresser, Ethel May Nicholson, a hairdresser, and talented oil painter. He grew up with two sisters, June and Lorraine, who all lived in Manasquan, New Jersey. (Source: Biography)
Nicholson attended Manasquan High School and later received a partial scholarship offer. But Nicholson chose not to attend college. Instead, he decided to work several odd jobs at the race track. He also worked as a lifeguard on the beach at sixteen. Nicholson then decided to move to Los Angeles with his sister June, an aspiring actress.
After the move, Nicholson took a part-time job at a toy store and became a gopher for the animation department of MGM Studios. While working at the studio, MGM producer Joe Pasternak noticed Nicholson. He was a lean and attractive young man, somewhat reminiscent of that era’s leading men. Nicholson soon joined Jeff Corey’s acting class and became an apprentice in The Players Ring.
Nicholson’s debut film was Cry Baby Killer, a low-budget film released in 1958. He then appeared in other indie horror films throughout the early sixties but soon became popular in the 1969 film Easy Rider as an alcoholic Southern lawyer. Nicholson was nominated for an Academy Award for best-supporting actor.
Nicholson rose to fame afterward as he performed exceptionally well in the films Five Easy Pieces in 1970, The Last Detail in 1973, and Chinatown in 1974, earning his fourth Oscar Nomination. He finally won an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1975 when he played R.P. Murphy in the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He also played an eerie, deranged hotel caretaker in one of the most acclaimed horror movies of all time, The Shining.
Nicholson took on more iconic roles in the films like Terms of Endearment, Batman, A Few Good Men, As Good As It Gets, About Schmidt, Anger Management, Something’s Gotta Give, and The Departed.
Nicholson’s last film was a romantic comedy, How Do You Know, in 2010, and he was rumored to retire from acting though no official statement came from the actor. In 2018, reports came up that Nicholson already has difficulty remembering the lines he’s supposed to deliver. As published by Radar Online, it is also rumored that he now has dementia. (Source: Radar Online)
Nicholson’s Older Sister
Time Magazine wanted to do a cover story of Jack Nicholson after his movie Chinatown opened in 1974. At the time, reporters from Time Magazine contacted Nicholson to verify some facts before running the article.
Time Magazine clarified details about his biological mother, which surprised the actor since it was well-known that his birth parents were John and Ethel May Nicholson. But the magazine had a different scoop. According to them, Nicholson’s biological mother was, in fact, June. The older sister he grew up with. It turns out John and Ethel May were not Nicholson’s parents, but they were his grandparents.
Nicholson sought answers and called his brother-in-law, Shorty Smith, to help him get to the bottom of this issue. Smith was married to his only surviving sister, Lorraine. When Nicholson brought the story up to Smith, he said it wasn’t true. Smith then phoned Nicholson back a few hours later and handed the phone to Lorraine.
Lorraine then confessed that it was true. June was his biological mother, and Ethel May was his grandmother. Unfortunately, both have already passed away, so Nicholson could not ask them about it himself.
It was later found out that the secret was kept because she got pregnant with Nicholson when she was sixteen. Until today, Nicholson does not know who his biological father was, nor does he ever want to find out. (Source: Today I Found Out)