Jack Nicholson was 37 years when he was told his sister was actually his biological mother

Jack Nicholson has always been a favorite of mine. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first time I saw ‘The Shining,’ nor the countless nights of insomnia that followed.

Nicholson’s performance in it demonstrated the true power that an actor or actress can have in a role – I was glued to the screen.

Of course, Nicholson is now 81 years old and can reflect on an eventful and fantastic career at the pinnacle of Hollywood.

His distinct brows and deep growl of a voice have helped him play a variety of disturbed characters over the years, including roles in the aforementioned ‘The Shining’ and ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

He’s worked with some of the greatest actors and actresses of all time over the course of his more than 50-year career.

But did you know that his family had been keeping a secret from him for a long time? One that would only come to light by chance? If you didn’t, you should continue reading…

John Joseph Nicholson was born in New York on April 22, 1937. The young boy was raised in New Jersey by his grandmother, Ethel Nicholson, who ran a beauty salon.

Jack believed that his grandmother was his biological mother because his alcoholic father abandoned the family when Nicholson was a child.

June, his 19-year-old sister, had quit her job as a dancer to pursue a career as an actress. When he was 17, Jack moved to Los Angeles with the intention of following in his father’s footsteps.

June died of cancer in 1963, and Nicholson’s grandmother, Ethel, died seven years later.

Despite his less-than-ideal start in life, Jack worked hard to achieve his goals. He pursued his acting dreams with zeal and was eventually rewarded with success.

However, when he was 37, he received a phone call from a journalist who had written a report on him for the movie ‘Chinatown’.

It was a phone call that would alter everything.

During his research in 1974, the reporter in question discovered a family secret that he would later reveal to Jack: the people Jack mistook for his parents were actually his grandparents.

Furthermore, his’sister,’ June, was his biological mother.

The claims initially offended the aspiring Hollywood star, who refused to believe them. During an emotional phone call, his second’sister,’ Lorraine (who was actually Jack’s aunt), confirmed the family’s secret.

“It was pretty dramatic event, but it wasn’t what I’d call traumatizing…I was pretty well psychologically formed,” Jack said of the revelation.

June was only 18 when she gave birth to Jack, and she was unmarried at the time, so her parents decided to raise him as their own. June was assigned the role of his elder sister.

It has never been established who Nicholson’s biological father was.

It’s been widely speculated that it was June’s manager, but other sources claim June had no idea who the father was.

We can imagine it’s quite a shock to reach adulthood while being fed such a massive lie. Both Ethel and June had taken the secret with them to their graves.

Jack, however, bears them no bitterness.

“I didn’t have to deal with it with them,” he is reported as having said. “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.”

Despite this long-held family secret, Jack has become one of the most well-known and successful actors of all time.

I think it’s character-defining that he doesn’t blame his family for withholding information from him; it shows a level of understanding that few people have.

Please share this story if you were surprised by the Nicholson family history – I’m sure you have friends on Facebook who would be equally interested in learning this!