It all happened when Nicholson got a call from a journalist telling him that his family had been keeping a huge secret.
Cover Image Source: IMDb/Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson's versatility as an actor is something we all know and admire. His portrayal of characters is, honestly, a treat to watch. The 82-year-old actor has made us laugh, cry, and even cower in fear with his roles. While there's been enough said and written about his professional life, not much is known about his personal life. When Nicholson was 37, he made quite a shocking discovery about his family—he learned that his sister was actually his biological mother. The Oscar-winning actor was born on April 22, 1937, and was raised by Ethel and John Nicholson, whom he believed to be his biological mother and father, according to Vintage News.
Nicholson grew up alongside his sister June when she, a dancer, left town to try and become an actor. When Nicholson turned 17, he followed suit and moved to Los Angeles. In 1963, June died of cancer, and Ethel died seven years after. In the beginning, Nicholson struggled to find acting opportunities, but he never really gave up on his dreams. He pursued them with great determination and was finally rewarded. At 37, after his movie Chinatown was out, a reporter reached out to him—little did he know it was a call that would change his life.
While the reporter was researching about Nicholson, he had actually unearthed a secret that the family intended to keep hidden. The people Nicholson thought were his parents were actually his grandparents, and the woman he thought was his sister, June, was actually his biological mother. Initially, this scandal insulted Nicholson and he refused to believe this, but it was later confirmed to him by his aunt Lorraine during an emotional call. Before that call, he thought of Lorraine as his sister as well. Since June was only 18 and unmarried at the time she had given birth to him, her parents had decided to raise him as their own.
Ethel and John decided that June would pose as his elder sister instead to ward off scandal for the family. Even now, no one knows who Jack's biological dad is; some speculate that he is June's manager. One of June's ex-boyfriends, Don Furcillo-Rose, had claimed to be the father, but Nicholson decided not to have paternity testing performed. An interview with Rolling Stones revealed that Ethel's husband was never around, as he was an alcoholic. Thus, Nicholson turned to Lorraine's husband for a father figure in his life.
He said, "Well, I had Shorty. I had Smith around. He was married to Lorraine. That, believe me, is as good a father as anybody’s ever going to get or need. I can be as hard on my family or friends as anybody — I’m fairly objective — but there’s nobody much that’s impressed me as much as Shorty." June and Ethel guarded this secret with their lives and both of them took it to their graves. One can only imagine how big a shock it must have been for Nicholson, and to have heard of it from a reporter, nonetheless. The Batman actor, however, holds no grudges against anyone.
“I didn’t have to deal with it with them,” he said, reportedly. “They were dead. I am that kind of person-what do I feel-and had the tools to know what I feel. Gratitude. I’ve often said about them: Show me any women today who could keep a secret, confidence, or an intimacy to that degree, you got my kind of gal.” "I'd say it was a pretty dramatic event, but it wasn't what I'd call traumatizing," Nicholson said about discovering his family's secret, according to Biography. "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."