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Jack Nicholson

His 12th nomination for an Oscar so far and if he gets the Award, it would be for the fourth time. He's nominated for About Schmidt - where he portrays a retired man going through a personal crisis.

india Updated: Mar 22, 2003 18:12 IST

Jack Nicholson was born John Joseph Nicholson on April 22, 1937, in Neptune, New Jersey. Nicholson's middle-class childhood was unusual and unfortunate. He never knew his father; instead, he was raised by his grandparents, John (an alcoholic) and Ethel May Nicholson, believing that they were his parents. He was told his mother, June, and his aunt Lorraine, were his older sisters. Nicholson only learned the truth in 1974, when a Time magazine reporter, writing a story on the then-rising star, uncovered the facts.

After graduating from Manasquan High School in New Jersey, the young Nicholson set out to make a name for himself in the movies. Starting out as a messenger for the cartoon department at MGM, Nicholson played bit parts in many movies throughout the 1960s. He appeared in Roger Corman films like 1960's The Little Shop of Horrors, and 1963's The Terror and The Raven. He later starred in 1964's Flight to Fury, which he also wrote, and 1967's acclaimed film The Shooting. During this time, Nicholson married and divorced Sandra Knight, with whom he has a daughter, Jennifer.

Jack Nicholson's career began to pick up momentum after his turn in 1969's Easy Rider, alongside Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. He next starred in 1970's Five Easy Pieces as a troubled pianist-turned-oil-driller, and his complex portrayal garnered much acclaim. In 1973, Nicholson starred in The Last Detail, and won the Best Actor award at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival. Next came the lead in Roman Polanski's neo-noir classic Chinatown, which earned him a British Academy Award and a Golden Globe, as well as an Oscar nomination. On the personal front, he began a 17-year relationship with actress Anjelica Huston.

In 1975, all doubt as to Nicholson's success vanished when he took home the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance as Randle McMurphy in Milos Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. For many an actor, an Academy Award is a career peak, but for Nicholson, this Oscar was only the beginning of achievements that have yet to let up. Later, visionary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick -- an admirer of Nicholson's acting style -- cast him in his atmospheric version of 1980's The Shining. While the character of McMurphy simply feigned craziness, Nicholson's portrayal of Jack Torrance practically redefined crazy.

After being named Best Supporting Actor by the National Board of Review for 1981's Reds, Nicholson's next big win was the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of an aging astronaut in 1983's Terms of Endearment. He won awards for his work in 1985's Prizzi's Honor (co-starring then-girlfriend Anjelica Huston) and 1987's Ironweed; played the devil in 1987's The Witches of Eastwick; and took an uncredited role in Broadcast News that same year. For his turn as the Joker in Tim Burton's Batman, Nicholson demanded top billing and a cut of the merchandising profits, then made millions when Batman became the top movie of 1989.

Nicholson's pace didn't slow down in the 1990s. Though he broke up with Anjelica Huston, he met Rebecca Broussard, and had two children with her, Lorraine and Raymond. Meanwhile, Nicholson reprised his role of Jake Gittes and directed 1990's The Two Jakes, a sequel to Chinatown. In 1992, he delivered another powerhouse, award-winning performance in A Few Good Men, and in 1996, he reunited with director Tim Burton, playing two roles in Mars Attacks!. The next year, Nicholson picked up another Best Actor Oscar, for his role in As Good As It Gets (known in China as Mr. Cat Poop).

First Published: Mar 21, 2003 13:53 IST