Jack Nicholson's legendary career has spanned decades, and he's had quite the colorful life in the tabloids, too. But with all his obvious talent, Jack Nicholson's life hasn't just been awards, parties and Hollywood indulgence. There have been hard times, too. Here's Jack Nicholson's tragic real-life story.
As Marc Eliot wrote in his unauthorized biography, Nicholson, Jack Nicholson's birth certificate listed John and Ethel May Nicholson as his parents — but his father was out of the picture early on. The actor revealed to the Daily Mail in 2011,
"I was raised entirely by women. [Ethel May] ran a beauty parlor and I spent most of my time there. She taught me manners and I learned how to be around women, what women liked. I am insanely well-mannered and polite, and because of that I have nothing but gratitude for my upbringing."
After Nicholson became a successful actor in the '70s, he was given some shocking news: He had no idea who his actual father was. As the authors of the biography Jack Nicholson: The Early Years, Robert Crane and Christopher Fryer, revealed, an unnamed woman in New Jersey mailed the authors a letter claiming she was "married to Jack Nicholson's biological father," adding that he "was a wonderful man." She urged the authors not to repeat various reports that claimed, quote, "he was a hard-drinking deadbeat."
While the authors decided against exposing the contents of the letter to the public, Time eventually ran the story. The biographers, Crane and Fryer, wrote,
"It turned out Jack had not been aware of his true family designations."
They ended up simply giving Nicholson the letter.
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Never met his biological father | 0:00
His sister was his mother | 1:25
The one that got away | 2:15
Manson killings hit home | 3:27
Possible memory loss | 4:13
Art seeps into life | 5:08
Angry streak | 6:03
Becoming a recluse | 7:03
Afraid of dying alone | 7:59
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