A journalist from 'TIME' magazine managed to unveil the secret that Nicholson's family had been hiding from him for years.
Jack Nicholson is one of the few prominent artists in Hollywood who stunned the world with his acting prowess. Be it his iconic role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest or The Shining, the artist managed to successfully transport his audience to the fictional world where his characters resided. And although the talent of this 82-year-old veteran actor is renowned, perhaps the details of his personal life may not be as well known. Nicholson was 37 when a shocking family secret unraveled itself. According to Newsner, the actor's sister was actually his biological mother.
Born on April 22, 1937, the Oscar-winning actor was raised by Ethel and John Nicholson, whom he believed to be his biological parents. He was told that June Nicholson was his sister who turned out to be his birth mother. Growing up, Ethel and John Nicholson posed as the star's parents, but in reality, they were his grandparents. The couple had two daughters, June and Lorraine, who after the birth of Jack pretended to be his sisters. Now, June was an 18-year-old unmarried girl when she was pregnant with Jack and that's why her parents decided to raise the child as their own.
An interview with Rolling Stone in 1988 revealed that Jack never got the opportunity to meet his biological father. Even his grandfather, John, was an alcoholic who wasn't around for most of his childhood and so Nicholson turned to the only father figure he knew, Lorraine's husband. "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," noted the star.
Furthermore, he informed the outlet that he was just 16 when he made his way to California following the footsteps of his sister June. "Since my only relative in the world was June, who was out here, I came out to look around," he added. The Terms of Endearment actor's grandmother whom he referred to as Mud, passed away in 1963 when the actor was just 26. "By now Mud had come to California; she had contracted a fatal disease. She was sort of nursed by June, and then in the middle of it, irony had it, June got cancer and died before Mud did. I went away on Ensign Pulver, and June died while I was flying to Mexico. And the day I got back from that job, six or seven weeks later, was the day my daughter was born," he said.
The secret was so well kept by his family, that both June and Ethel managed to take it to their grave. But the truth came out after a journalist from TIME magazine discovered that June was a 17-year-old unmarried girl, who was not certain of the father's identity when she gave birth to Jack. That's when her parents decided to raise the actor as their own son by hiding their identity reports Biography. Although one of June's ex-boyfriends, Don Furcillo-Rose, claimed to be his father, Nicholson decided not to go through with a paternity test.
According to a report by Today I Found Out, Nicholson immediately called Shorty to confirm if there was any truth to the information the journalist had just provided him about his family. Responding to his calls a few hours later, he 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." Thus, Lorraine confirmed the truth and added that the family had to keep this a secret as June wanted to continue pursuing a career in dance.
Surprisingly, Nicholson handled this matter with the utmost maturity. Biography reports that he didn't have any hard feelings towards his family for keeping this huge secret. "I'd say it was a pretty dramatic event, but it wasn't what I'd call traumatizing," said Nicholson. "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." Appreciating the two most important women in his life, he told Rolling Stone, "My only emotion is gratitude, literally, for my life. [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."