Jack Nicholson is an American actor, film director, producer and writer. He is renowned for his often dark portrayals of neurotic characters. His twelve Oscar nominations make him the second most nominated actor of all time, behind only Meryl Streep, and tied with Katharine Hepburn.
Nicholson has been nominated for an Academy Award twelve times and has won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice: for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and for As Good as It Gets. He also won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the 1983 film Terms of Endearment. He is tied with Walter Brennan for most acting wins by a male actor (three). Nicholson is well known for playing villainous roles such as Jack Torrance in The Shining, Frank Costello in The Departed, and the Joker in 1989's Batman, among many other roles.
Nicholson was born in New York City, the son of a showgirl, June Frances Nicholson (stage name June Nilson). Nicholson was brought up believing that his grandparents were his parents. Nicholson only discovered that his parents were actually his grandparents and his sister was in fact his mother in 1974, after a journalist for TIME magazine who was doing a feature on Nicholson informed him of the fact. By this time, both his mother and grandmother had died (in 1963 and 1970, respectively). Nicholson has stated he does not know who his biological father is, saying "Only Ethel and June knew and they never told anybody", and has chosen not to have a DNA test or to pursue the matter.
When Nicholson first came to Hollywood, he worked as a gofer for animation legends William Hanna and Joseph Barbera at the MGM cartoon studio. Seeing his talent as an artist, they offered Nicholson a starting level position as an animation artist. However, citing his desire to become an actor, he declined.
He made his film debut in a low-budget teen drama The Cry Baby Killer, in 1958, playing the title role. For the following decade, Nicholson was a frequent collaborator with the film's producer, Roger Corman. Corman directed Nicholson on several occasions, most notably in The Little Shop of Horrors, as masochistic dental patient Wilbur Force, and also in The Raven, The Terror, and The St. Valentine's Day Massacre. He worked frequently with director Monte Hellman as well on low-budget westerns, though two in particular, Ride in the Whirlwind and The Shooting, initially failed to find interest from any US film distributors but gained cult success on the art house circuit in France and were later sold to television.
With his acting career heading nowhere, Nicholson seemed resigned to a career behind the camera as a writer/director. His first real taste of writing success was the LSD-fueled screenplay for the 1967 film, The Trip (directed by Corman), which starred Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. Nicholson also co-wrote, with Bob Rafelson, the movie Head, which starred The Monkees. In addition, he also arranged the movie's soundtrack. However, after a spot opened up in Fonda and Hopper's Easy Rider, it led to his first big acting break. Nicholson played hard-drinking lawyer George Hanson, for which he received his first Oscar nomination. The part of Hanson was a lucky break for Nicholson—the role had in fact been written for actor Rip Torn, who was a close friend of screen writer Terry Southern, but Torn withdrew from the project after a bitter argument with the film's director Dennis Hopper, during which the two men almost came to blows.
Nicholson earned his first Best Actor Oscar for portraying Randle P. McMurphy in the movie adaptation of Ken Kesey's novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, directed by Miloš Forman in 1975. After this, he began to take more unusual roles. He took a small role in The Last Tycoon, opposite Robert De Niro. He took a less sympathetic role in Arthur Penn's western The Missouri Breaks, specifically to work with Marlon Brando. He followed this by making his second directorial effort with the western comedy Goin' South. His first movie as a director was a 1971 quirky release called Drive, He Said.
Nicholson has been romantically linked to numerous actresses and models, including Michelle Phillips, Bebe Buell, and Lara Flynn Boyle. Nicholson's longest relationship was for 16 years with actress Anjelica Huston, daughter of film director John Huston, from 1973 to 1989. However, the relationship ended when the media reported that Rebecca Broussard had become pregnant with Nicholson's child. Nicholson and Broussard had two children together, Lorraine (born 1990) and Raymond Nicholson (born 1992). Nicholson's other children are Jennifer (born 1963 with Sandra Knight) and Honey Hollman (1981 with Winnie Hollman). Actress Susan Anspach contends that her son, Caleb Goddard (born 1970), was fathered by Nicholson, though he is not convinced he is the father
Nicholson is a fan of the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Lakers. His attendance at Lakers games is legendary, as he is a season ticket holder since 1970 and has held courtside season tickets for the past 25 years at both The Forum and the Staples Center, missing very few games. In a few instances, Nicholson has engaged in arguments with game officials and opposing players, and has even walked onto the court. His ardent refusal to miss a Lakers home game means that studios are rumored to have to schedule filming around the Lakers home schedule although he disputed this claim in an interview with BBC radio in 2008. Nicholson is a collector of 20th century and contemporary art, including the work of Scottish artist Jack Vettriano.