He Wasn't Even Mad, He Was Impressed! Jack Nicholson Learned Who His Real Mom Was Only After She Died, But He's Very Grateful To Her

October 12, 2018 18:25

Jack Nicholson’s real-life drama

Jack Nicholson is one of the most iconic Hollywood actors of the 20th century. Although he has been off the big screen for almost a decade, the actor is still very much talked about, and people’s interest in his personal life still hasn’t faded.

Over his spectacular career, Nicholson had dozens of different roles, but what was his real life like? One fact in the 81-year-old’s biography stands out, and it sounds like something from a movie plot.


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How Jack Nicholson learned the truth about his birth

Jack Nicholson was born in the times of the Great Depression, in 1937. He was raised by John and Ethel May Nicholson and two women he thought were his older sisters, June and Lorraine Nicholson. When Jack was born, June was 17 years old.

It wasn’t until 1974 that Nicholson learned the true story of his birth. Time magazine was doing a cover story about Nicholson, and the journalists found out that Ethel May wasn’t the actor’s mother. His real mother was June, the woman he thought was his older sister. It’s a rather unusual way to find out the truth about your birth – hearing about it from Time's reporters and not from your family, right?


June died from cancer in 1963, and Ethel May died in 1970, and they never intended to tell him. When Jack Nicholson learned that June was his mom, he wasn’t mad at his family for keeping it a secret. Nicholson said:

I'd say it was a pretty dramatic event, but it wasn't what I'd call traumatizing. 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.

The identity of Jack Nicholson’s father has never been established.


Although his initial reaction was shock, Nicholson eventually came to accept the truth. In his 1984 interview for the Rolling Stone, he spoke very fondly about the women who raised him. Speaking about his mom and the secret she kept so well, the actor said:

June and I had so much in common. We both fight hard. It didn’t do her any good not to tell me, but she didn’t because you never know how I would have reacted when I was younger.


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How Jack Nicholson’s upbringing and learning the story of his birth shaped his views

Jack Nicholson is 100% pro-life. The actor has the most solid argument anyone can ever make against abortion: if his mom and grandma hadn’t been pro-life, he would have never been born. Speaking to the Rolling Stone in 1986 about the story of his birth, Nicholson said:

Both grandmother and mother were deceased before this particular group of facts came to my attention. I was very impressed by their ability to keep the secret, if nothing else. It’s done great things for me. I mean, I don’t have to question the abortion issue in my mind. It’s an open-and-shut case where I’m concerned. As an illegitimate child born in 1937, during the Depression, to a broken lower-middle-class family, you are a candidate for — you’re an automatic abortion with most people today. So it’s very easy for me. I don’t have to get into the debate of when does the thing come alive. And I’m very pleased to be out of it, ’cause it’s not an easy issue.


He spoke about his late mother and grandmother with admiration. To Nicholson, these two women and his aunt Lorraine are true role models. He said:

These were strong women — made their own way in a period of time when it just wasn’t done that much. They did it without connections.

Although June never got the chance to tell her son the truth, she was a present and loving mom in his life. He just didn’t know who she really was to him. Anyway, she and her mom made a man out of him, the man we now know as one of Hollywood’s greatest actors. June would have been so proud of her son!

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