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Nicholson grew up believing his grandmother to be his mother and his mother to be his sister.4.

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Nicholson turns 78 on April 22, and even though he hasn't been in a movie for five years, he still looms large in our collective imaginations.

Younger viewers know him from his flamboyant performances in "The Departed," "The Bucket List," "Something's Gotta Give," and "Anger Management," but his older films remain ubiquitous on TV as well, including "As Good as It Gets," "A Few Good Men," "Batman," "The Witches of Eastwick," "Terms of Endearment," "The Shining," and "Chinatown." A late bloomer, who appeared in 19 B-movies over 12 years before becoming a star at age 33, Nicholson has nonetheless spent most of his life as one of the most beloved and familiar actors alive.

After high school, he moved to Los Angeles, where he moved in with June, and supported himself in part with racetrack winnings.6.

His first show business job was on the MGM lot as an assistant to animators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, then best known for the Tom & Jerry cartoons.

After he became famous, he co-wrote and directed the college basketball drama "Drive, He Said" (1971).12. He wrote their 1968 film "Head," a trippy collection of music-video vignettes.

The director was Bob Rafelson, who'd later direct Nicholson in five movies, including "Five Easy Pieces," "The King of Marvin Gardens," and "The Postman Always Rings Twice."13.Let's hope Jack Nicholson has a pleasant birthday on Wednesday, or at least a less disturbing one than the birthday when pal Hunter S.Thompson showed up outside his house, turned on a spotlight, blasted a recording of a pig being eaten alive by bears, fired several rounds from his 9mm pistol, and (when the terrified actor and his kids refused to open the door) left an elk's heart on the doorstep.His mother, June, was a teenage showgirl; his father was unknown, though musician Don Furcillo later claimed to be the father and that he had committed bigamy by marrying June, as he was already married at the time to another woman.To protect the Nicholson family's reputation, June gave birth out of town, and her mother, Ethel, raised young Jack as her own.Both June and Ethel were already long since deceased.5.

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