For more than three decades of his life, Jack Nicholson believed the “truth” that was painted by his family. And it was only at the age of 37 when he realized that everything he believed in, until that point of his life, was a lie that his entire family convinced him of.
Nicholson was born on April 22, 1937, and he grew up with Ethel and John Nicholson, who he believed was his biological mother and father, according to Newsner.
The two of them raised the talented actor-to-be as their own child and young Jack was made to believe that Lorraine and June Frances Nicholson were his sisters.
June was a showgirl dancer, who was 17 when Jack was born. “June and I had so much in common. We both fight hard,” Jack said, as reported by CNSNews.com. He also told Rolling Stone that he went to California at the age of 16, knowing that June was living there, saying, “Since my only relative in the world was June, who was out here, I came out to look around.”
It was only a matter of time before Jack rose to become one of the most iconic stars of Hollywood, and had a bad-boy charm and a unique way of commanding attention while he was behind the camera. With great determination, he found himself performing different roles and building his reputation.
However, when the budding actor had reached the age of 37, his entire world became distorted when he received a shocking call from a journalist working with Time Magazine, telling him that his family had been hiding a huge secret from him.
This was the same journalist who had been writing a report on the actor and his film, Chinatown. And as he was collecting facts and putting together information for his report, he uncovered the truth that Jack was yet to know.
At first, Jack couldn’t believe what he heard, having lived his entire 37 years of life believing something completely opposing what the journalist had told him.
It was that fated call that finally revealed to Jack that Ethel and John were actually his grandparents, June was his biological mother, and Lorraine was actually his aunt.
But neither June nor Ethel were around to give him any clarity because June passed away in 1963 when Jack was 26, as reported by Biography, and Ethel had passed away 7 years after that in 1970. The one person he could call was Shorty, who up until that point of his life, Jack thought was his brother-in-law (Lorraine’s husband). Shorty immediately dispelled these claims because he, too, only knew what Jack knew. But a few hours later, he received a call from Shorty, who said, “Jack, it’s Shorty, I’m gonna put Lorraine on the phone. I just want to say one thing – she’s been crying all night. Here she is.” And that’s when Jack finally found out who his real mother is, as reported by Today I Found Out.
After he finally discovered the family’s secret, kept for so long, he said, “It didn’t do her any good not to tell me, but she didn’t because you never know how I would’ve reacted when I was younger.”
When he spoke about, he didn’t publicly show any feelings of anger or resentment towards his family members. “I’d say it was a pretty dramatic event, but it wasn’t what I’d call traumatizing,” the Academy-award winning actor said. “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.”
Although it completely altered everything that Jack believed in, he believed that it was June and Ethel’s way of keeping him alive when the circumstances were difficult. “I’m very contra my constituency in terms of abortion because I’m positively against it,” he mentioned, and he’s glad that his biological mother and Ethel did the best they could and raised him, although in an unconventional way.
“My only emotion is gratitude, literally, for my life,” said Nicholson. “[If June and Ethel had been] of less character, I never would have gotten to live. These women gave me the gift of life… They trained me great, those ladies. I still, to this day, have never borrowed a nickel from anybody and never felt like I couldn’t take care of myself. They made the imperative of my self-sufficiency obvious.”
For that very reason, he is appreciative of the two women in his life. If it weren’t for them, Jack Nicholson wouldn’t be a name that’s known across the world.