Cheshire-cat smile, charisma, and charm have made actor Jack Nicholson (1937-) a living legend. Born John Joseph Nicholson on this day in Neptune, New Jersey, the self-admitted rebel and nonconformist dropped out of school to act in bit parts before finding worldwide success in 1969 with Easy Rider.
"I read a lot. I may not be an expert on a given subject, but I can hold a conversation on just about everything," he said.
With his devil-may-care attitude and potent presence, Nicholson is a larger-than-life rebel who celebrates nonconformity and always seems to be on the verge of a passionate eruption.
"A star on a movie set is like a time bomb," he once admitted. "That bomb has got to be defused so people can approach it without fear."
A well-known womanizer and avid Los Angeles Lakers fan, the versatile performer can do both drama and comedy equally well. Time and again he has performed brilliantly. How do you pick just ONE favorite from Five Easy Pieces (1970), Carnal Knowledge (1971), The Last Detail (1973), Chinatown (1974), Batman (1989), or Something's Gotta Give (2003)?
A three-time Academy Award winner, for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), Terms of Endearment (1983), and As Good As It Gets (1997), every Jack Nicholson role is unforgettable.
And he's not done...
"Because of the oddness of what appeals to me," Nicholson said in an 2003 Daily News interview, "I've once again mismanaged myself into the pinnacle of my career."
Greatness can be seen with a primitive eye.