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Jack Nicholson is one of the most prominent American motion-picture actors of his generation, noted for his versatile portrayals of unconventional outsiders
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Born on April 22, 1937, in Neptune, New Jersey, Jack Nicholson is one of the most prominent American motion-picture actors of his generation. Nicholson's career has contained some of the seminal film in Hollywood history, including Chinatown and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and his role as Jack in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining has become iconic.
"There's a little bit of me, I suppose, in every part I play. As an actor you can't help inserting yourself, especially if you love acting."
"The camera photographs what's there."
Jack Nicholson was born in Neptune, New Jersey, on April 22, 1937, and grew up in Manasquan, New Jersey, about 50 miles south of the city on the Jersey Shore. The people he believed to be his parents were named John and Ethel May Nicholson. John was a department store window dresser and Ethel May was a hairdresser as well as a talented oil painter. June Nicholson, whom he believed was his older sister, was an aspiring actress.
June died of cancer in 1963, when Jack Nicholson was 26 years old. More than a decade after her death, in 1974, a TIME magazine reporter researching a cover story on Nicholson discovered some shocking information: June was in fact Nicholson's mother and John and Ethel May were his maternal grandparents. Since June was 17 years old, unmarried and uncertain of the father's identity at the time of Nicholson's birth, her parents agreed to treat Nicholson as their own child and never reveal to him his true parentage. One of June's ex-boyfriends, Don Furcillo-Rose, has since claimed to be the father, but Nicholson decided not to have paternity testing performed. "I'd say it was a pretty dramatic event, but it wasn't what I'd call traumatizing," Nicholson said about discovering his family's secret. "After all, by the time I found out who my mother was, I was pretty well psychologically formed. As a matter of fact, it made quite a few things clearer to me. If anything, I felt grateful."
Nicholson attended Manasquan High School and graduated a year early at the age of 16. Although his grades were good enough to receive a partial scholarship offer, Nicholson was not interested in college. He recalled, "I wasn't filled with a burning desire to make something of myself in those days. And since I was only 16, I figured I had plenty of time to go to college later& So I hung around Jersey for about a year. I made a little money at the racetrack, and I worked as a lifeguard at the beach one summer."
In 1954, Nicholson moved out to Los Angeles, California, where June, whom he still believed was his older sister, had an apartment. There, he worked part-time in a toy store and also landed a job as a gopher for the animation department of MGM Studios. By this time, Nicholson had matured into a lean and attractive young man, prototypical of the leading men of Hollywood movies at that time. An MGM producer named Joe Pasternak noticed Nicholson's good looks one day and landed him a spot in Jeff Corey's famed acting classes, as well as an apprenticeship at The Players Ring theater.
Jack Nicholson made his film debut in the 1958 low-budget crime flick Cry Baby Killer, playing a teenager who mistakenly believes he committed murder.
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