Jack Nicholson has always been a favorite of mine. I don’t believe I’ll ever forget the first time I saw ‘The Shining,’ nor the endless nights of insomnia that followed.
Nicholson’s performance in it demonstrated the actual power that an actor or actress can have in a role – I was hooked to the screen.
Of course, Nicholson is now 81 years old and can reflect on an adventurous and magnificent career at the pinnacle of Hollywood.
His unique brows and low growl of a voice have enabled him play a variety of troubled characters over the years, including roles in the aforementioned ‘The Shining’ and ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
He’s worked with some of the finest performers and actresses of all time throughout the course of his more than 50-year profession.
But did you know that his family has been keeping a secret from him for a long time? One that would only come to light by chance? If you didn’t, you should continue reading…
John Joseph Nicholson was born in New York on April 22, 1937. The little kid was raised in New Jersey by his grandmother, Ethel Nicholson, who managed a beauty shop.
Jack felt that his grandmother was his biological mother because his alcoholic father abandoned the family when Nicholson was a toddler.
June, his 19-year-old sister, had quit her job as a dancer to pursue a career as an actor. When he was 17, Jack came to Los Angeles with the intention of following in his father’s footsteps.
June died of cancer in 1963, and Nicholson’s grandmother, Ethel, died seven years later.
Despite his less-than-ideal start in life, Jack worked hard to attain his goals. He followed his acting dreams with zeal and was finally rewarded with fame.
But, when he was 37, he received a phone call from a reporter who had written a story on him for the movie ‘Chinatown’.
It was a phone call that would alter everything.
During his study in 1974, the reporter in question discovered a family secret that he would later reveal to Jack: the folks Jack mistook for his parents were actually his grandparents.
Moreover, his ‘sister,’ June, was his birth mother.
The accusations originally offended the aspiring Hollywood star, who didn’t accept them. During an emotional phone conversation, his second ‘sister,’ Lorraine (who was actually Jack’s aunt), disclosed the family’s secret.
It was a rather dramatic incident, yet it wasn’t traumatizing. He was quite well formed psychologically, Jack remarked of the discovery.
June was just 18 when she gave birth to Jack, and she was unmarried at the time, so her parents opted to raise him as their own. June was assigned the role of his elder sister.
It has never been established who Nicholson’s biological dad was.
It’s been widely suspected that it was June’s manager, while some accounts suggest June had no idea who the father was.
We can assume it’s quite a shock to reach maturity while being given such a massive untruth. Both Ethel and June had carried the secret with them to their graves.
Jack, on the other hand, is unaffected.
Despite this long-held family secret, Jack has become one of the most well-known and famous performers of all time.
I think it’s character-defining that he doesn’t criticize his family for withholding facts from him; it demonstrates a level of empathy that few individuals have.