JACK NICHOLSON Biography - Other artists & entretainers


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An actor, director and screenwriter who has become one of the most recognized Hollywood figures of our time, Jack Nicholson, like Brando and Bogart, has the rare distinction of being admired and copied by his contemporaries. His laconic style and eccentric temperament have insured his fame for many more years to come.


Nicholson was born on April 22, 1937, in Neptune, New Jersey. Raised by his mother, the owner of a beauty parlor, after his alcoholic father, deserted the family, he chanced on films at the age of 17 during a trip to California to visit his sister. He started out as an office boy in MGM’s cartoon department, and after training as an actor with a group called the Players Ring Theater, began performing on the stage and in TV soap operas.


He made his first film appearance in 1958, playing the lead in a Roger Corman quickie, The Cry Baby Killer, and subsequently appeared in other cheap horror, motorcycle, and action films by Corman and other directors operating on the fringes of mainstream Hollywood. Some of these films include The Little Shop of Horrors (1961), which has since become a cult classic, and The Terror (1963). Collaborating with another Corman protege, Monte Hellman, he soon began producing and writing some of these films. For financial reasons, several of the films were made in the Philippines.


After years of frustration and disappointment, Nicholson got his big break when he was called in to replace Rip Torn in Easy Rider (1969). He made the most of his opportunity, played the role of a small-time, dropout lawyer, and received his first Academy AwardŽ nomination. In the ensuing years, Nicholson emerged as one of Hollywood’s most intriguing personalities, a multifaceted performer capable not only of interpreting a wide range of roles but of changing his appearance from film to film. He turned in an exceptional performance in Bob Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces (1970), then went on to display his enigmatic personality and uncommon acting skill in films such as Mike Nichol’s Carnal Knowledge (1971), Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail (1973), Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (1974), and Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger (1975).