Name: John Joseph “Jack” Nicholson
Born: April 22, 1937
Occupation: Actor, writer, producer, director
Jack Nicholson was born in Neptune, New Jersey and grew up just 50 miles from the Jersey shore. Throughout his life, he believed his parents to be Ethel May and John Nicholson, a hairdresser and department store worker. He thought he had a sister, June. While his youth was less than traumatizing, Jack didn’t find out until well into his 30’s and a long time after Ethel’s death that John and Ethel were in fact his grandparents and that they had hidden the fact that June, only 17 at the time of his birth, was his mother. She was unsure of the father’s identity at the time.
Not knowing his family’s secret didn’t have much of an impact on his life. He graduated high school a year early, hung around NJ for another year, and then moved out to Los Angeles where he lived with his “sister” for a while. While he was working as a gopher for MGM, his rugged good looks caught the attention of producer Joe Pasternak. Joe’s efforts earned Jack his first acting class and work at a local theater.
Jack’s movie debut happened in 1958 when he participated in the making of Cry Baby Cry. He had appearances in a number of low budget films throughout the 60’s, finally landing his real breakthrough role in 1969 with his performance as George Hanson in Easy Rider. While all of his performances have been stellar, his most notable include his 1974 role in Chinatown, his 1975 role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and his 1980 role in The Shining. As his career progressed, he moved from serious roles to more comedic performances.
Despite his wild success on the big screen, Jack’s personal life has been a bit wild. He was married to Sandra Knight from 1962 until 1968 and the marriage resulted in one child. He has three other children from two other relationships and there is at least one woman who claims he’s fathered another child. With more than 12 Academy Award nominations under his belt, Nicholson’s success has garnered him a net worth of approximately $400 million, labeling him as one of the wealthiest American actors in the country’s history.
So how much is $400 million really?
To start with, it’s certainly enough to create a stunning collection of art featuring both 20th century and contemporary pieces. Jack’s personal collection is rumored to be worth at least $100 million.
That said, Jack could certainly put some of his wealth to use in supporting local arts programs, both in schools and out. Music, drama, and textile arts are losing funding at an alarming rate and he could certainly find the funds to bring those programs back to the forefront of our educational systems.
Maybe he could buy a partial interest in the Los Angeles Lakers one day? He’s a big enough fan, studios at one point worked their schedules around game seasons to keep him happy. He’d only need another $500 million on top of what he has to buy the whole team!