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Jack Nicholson was born John Joseph Nicholson in New York City in 1937, under bizarre circumstances! His mother was a showgirl, and it is unclear who his father was, but his mother had just married a man who was already married, and his grandparents took him and raised him as their son, telling him his mother was his "sister" (he would not learn the truth until he was 37, when a journalist uncovered it)!

Jack grew up in Neptune City, New Jersey, and after graduation he went to Hollywood where he got a menial job at Hanna-Barbera, but in 1958 he managed to get the lead role in The Cry Baby Killer, a low budget Allied Artists movie. It was two years before he got his next part, a small role in Too Soon to Love and he spent the rest of the 1960s making minor TV and film appearances, including several quickies for Roger Corman (some of which he wrote the screenplay for).

He co-wrote The Trip in 1967, which starred Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, and the following year he co-wrote Head, starring The Monkees, and it looked his acting career might be over. But in 1969, as Fonda and Hopper were about to make Easy Rider with Rip Torn, Torn pulled a knife on Hopper in a restaurant, and he was fired, and Nicholson replaced him as George Hanson.

The movie was a huge success, and Nicholson was nominated for the Best Supporting Oscar. He followed with a remarkable string of performances! The following year he starred in Five Easy Pieces (nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award for this film; with the famous "chicken" scene), and the next year he starred in Carnal Knowledge. He was wonderful as Buddusky in The Last Detail (nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award for this film) in 1973, and as J.J. Gittes in Chinatown (nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award for this film) in 1974.

He had the best role of his career in 1975, when he was Randle P. McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and he won the Best Actor Oscar. He suffered from the Oscar "curse" after that, making several forgettable movies (for which he was paid huge amounts), although his performance in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining in 1980 was excellent, and he also appeared in Reds (nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for this film).

But after this "down" period, he came back strong with a great supporting performance in Terms of Endearment in 1983, for which he won a Best Supporting Oscar, and Prizzi's Honor (nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award for this film). Since then, Nicholson has had some great roles and some lesser ones. He was memorable in Ironweed (nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award for this film), and as Colonel Jessep in A Few Good Men (nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for this film; "You can't handle the truth") in 1992, and in 1997 he won the Best Actor Oscar for As Good as It Gets (his third, tying him with Walter Brennan for most Oscars by a man, and all of Brennan's were Supporting).

In 2003, he was nominated for Best Actor for About Schmidt, his 12th acting nomination, most of any man, and more amazingly, he was nominated in five separate decades, from the 1960s to the 2000s! As of 2021, he is still alive at the age of 84.
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