26 Things You Didn’t Know About Jack Nicholson's Millionaire Lifestyle
Jack Nicholson is one of Hollywood’s still-standing greats from the bygone Hollywood era of machismo leading men who bolstered their silver screen personas with raucous off-screen antics.
He’s one of the greatest actors of his generation, and he’s been awarded some of the highest accolades — and paychecks — Hollywood has ever offered. And he’s lived a legendary lifestyle.
From a notorious bad boy with an unrelenting sex drive as a young actor to a calmer 86-year-old screen legend with a net worth of $390 million dollars, these are The Great Seducer’s most fascinating experiences and stories.
He Bought Marlon Brando’s House, Then Razed It
Nicholson was good friends with fellow lothario and next-door neighbor, Marlon Brando.
When the actor died in 2005 and the home went up for sale, Nicholson picked up the 3,040 square-foot, 1954-built house for $5 million, SFGATE reported at the time. But Nicholson didn’t keep the house for long. Instead, he reportedly demolished it and planted frangipani flowers in its place. It was a tribute to what Brando had nicknamed his longtime home —“Frangipani.”
Another of Nicholson’s friends, actor Warren Beatty, lives a few houses down —for a while there, this section of Mullholland Drive was known as “Bad Boy Drive.”
His Art Collection Is Awesome
Nicholson is an avid art collector and owns originals from the likes of world renowned painters such as “Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani, Magritte, Bouguereau, Botero and Rodin,” according to CNN.
Nicholson is said to be one of Hollywood’s top 10 art collectors, with a staggering $100 million collection.
He Can Sketch Tom & Jerry
Art hasn't always been about Picasso and Matisse for Nicholson. His first job in Hollywood was as an assistant to William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, the animators behind "Tom & Jerry" cartoons. He was only 13 at the time.
He Once Wandered Around His Home Completely Nude for Several Months…
…and he didn’t put on clothes for anyone. Seriously. While interviewing Nicholson for "Rolling Stone," journalist Erik Hedegaard remarked about the surreal experience while he was at Nicholson’s house: “It's where, in the late Sixties, as a matter of self-help, he spent three months walking around in the nude, at all hours of the day, no matter who stopped by, his daughter included.”
Some context: according to biographer Patrick McGilligan, Nicholson referenced a point in his life where he walked around nude for quite a while in order to get used to appearing nude on film for a sex scene. While filming, Nicholson said he went upstairs and tried to get an erection for 45 minutes for a scene in “The Postman Always Rings Twice” because it would add an element of strangeness to the scene, but he got performance anxiety. As it turned out, the film barely had any nudity at all—and Jack’s Johnson is nowhere to be seen.
A Road Rage Incident Cost Him $500,000
In 1994, Nicholson was driving to the golf course when someone cut him off in traffic. Ragged from a tiring film schedule and mourning the recent death of a friend, Nicholson got out, grabbed a golf club he barley used (his 2-iron) and smashed the offending driver’s windshield with it.
Nicholson later settled out of court with a check to the tune of a reported $500,000, according to Golf Digest.
His Temper Also Cost Him His Job
Not a good job, mind you.
When Nicholson was young and living in New Jersey, he worked a job as a short order cook while looking for acting gigs. The problem started when he messed up a pancake order, sending out one that was “three inches thick.”
This angered the customer, who approached Nicholson: “‘She said: ‘What the hell is this?’ I lost my temper, hit the pancake and said: ‘Make your own damn pancakes!’” he told "The Sun."
He Bought His Joker Costume for $70,000
Nicholson grew up reading Batman comics, so his role to play the Joker in Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman” movie must have been a dream come true.
Not only did the actor handsomely profit from the role, earning him somewhere between $60 and $90 million, he said he was “particularly proud” of his performance as the maniacal clown. So that $70,000 purchase was basically chump change for an iconic piece of beloved Batman history.
Life Achievement Award
The Joker became such an iconic role for Jack that it was prominently featured during his 'Life Achievement Award' ceremony at the American Film Institute in 1994.
His Breakout Role in “Easy Rider” Earned Him Just $329 a Week
Long before that, Nicholson’s breakout role was in the cult classic “Easy Rider” from 1969.
Rip Torn originally had Nicholson’s part, but Torn and “Easy Rider” actor and director Dennis Hopper had a bizarre falling out climaxing at a dinner fight with a hotly disputed "who-pulled-the-knife-first" brawl which led to Hopper firing Torn and replacing him with Nicholson.
Nicholson, at the time a relatively unknown actor, worked for scale and earned $329 a week.
He Was Once Married
Nicholson was married only once in his life, to actress and artist Sandra Knight. Knight was best known for her role in the 1958 film 'Frankenstein's Daughter."
Sandra eventually stopped acting and shifted her career focus to art. The couple had a daughter together in 1963.
He Dated Anjelica Huston
Though they never married, Nicholson's longest and most well-known relationship (of 17 years) was with actress Anjelica Huston.
His Morning Routine is a Bit Simpler Now
While Nicholson professes he still has a raging libido — "I'm still very – I have the same libido," he told Rolling Stone in 2006 when he was 69-years-old [note: the article is dated 2013, but the original story appeared in a 2006 issue]—his drug and sex fueled lifestyle has cooled a bit.
This is his morning routine, as reported in Rolling Stone: “He says that he usually wakes up around 11 a.m., when Gloria, his housekeeper, brings him breakfast in bed. On the breakfast tray is a glass of orange juice, a cup of coffee (cream, sugar), a container of diet chocolate pudding (but only on weekends) and his daily regimen of pills, which includes a baby aspirin, for all the good one baby aspirin a day can do a person; Lipitor, to deal with certain cholesterol issues; and a Celebrex, to ease the pain of arthritis, with a Prilosec waiting in the wings should heartburn develop.
Now, at night, he usually doesn't go to sleep until 4 a.m. and most often spends the last two hours before lights out – ‘my ass-scratching hours’– with his nose deep into a book. Typically he does this reading up in bed, in the half of the bed that's been imprinted by his bulk and that he likes to call ‘the dent.’”
He Had Sex with Justin Trudeu’s Mom…
...and a whole bunch of other women. Nicholson is one of Hollywood’s legendary Lotharios. According to biographer Robert Sellers, Cher once remarked “‘I think he likes women more than any man I’ve ever known. I mean he really likes them,’” while Kim Bassinger described Nicholson as “ ‘the most highly sexualized individual I have ever met.’”
Former Playboy model Karen Mayo-Chandler once said “He's a nonstop sex machine. He's into fun and games ... like spanking, handcuffs, whips and Polaroid pictures” and that he apparently ate peanut butter in bed—presumably between rounds—to keep his stamina going, according to Rolling Stone.
CNN, citing an unauthorized biography by Marc Eliot, lists just a few of the actors more famous partners: Lara Flynn Boyle, Michelle Phillips, Anjelica Huston, Melanie Griffith, Margaret Trudeau and Veronica Cartwright.
He Worked with the Monkees
In the mid-1960’s, Nicholson became friends with Davy Jones and the Monkees. He and Bob Rafelson co-wrote their 1968 film “Head."
The Drugs in Easy Rider Weren’t Just for Show
Nicholson also smoked a lot of reefer during his stint on Easy Rider.
Quoting Nicholson as transcribed by Sabotage Times: “We were all stoned the night we shot the campfire scene. The speech about the UFOs looks improvised, but it was actually almost verbatim from the script. The story about me smoking 155 joints - that's a little exaggerated. But each time I did a take or an angle, it involved smoking almost an entire joint. After the first take or two, the acting job became reversed. Instead of being straight and having to act stoned at the end, I was now stoned at the beginning and having to act straight, and then gradually letting myself return to where I was - which was very stoned.”
This wasn’t Nicholson’s first rodeo with drugs. According to Eliot’s biography, Nicholson also experimented with LSD and cocaine, allegedly writing the screenplay for 1967’s “The Trip” while enjoying his own acid adventure.
He Won his First Oscar Playing a Mental Patient
Nicholson won his first Oscar for the role of a mental patient in the 1975 film “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. Gene Hackman, Burt Reynolds, Marlon Brando, and James Caan were each offered the role, but lucky for Nicholson they all turned it down.
He's Gone On to Win Many Awards Since Then
His list of acting awards is now long and includes 12 nominations at the Acedemy Awards (3 of those were wins), 17 nominations at the Golden Globes (7 of those were wins), and many others (BAFTA, Academy of Science Fiction, American Film Institute, etc).
And Yes, He's Got a Star
Next time you're on Hollywood Boulevard, look closely and you might find Jack's name.
He Has Spent a College Degree’s Worth of Cash on Golf Clubs
It’s rumored that Nicholson spent a whopping $75,000 on a set of made-to-order golf clubs made with carbon fabric, platinum and 24-karat gold.
The custom clubs are made by Honma, a Japanese company specializing in luxury golf gear.
Other celebrities rumored to have the $75,000 set include Danny DeVito and Marc Anthony.
He Denied Tom Sizemore a Sizable Loan
While battling a hardcore drug addiction, actor Tom Sizemore had to live in his car while he tried to sell his house. Before he somehow ended up squatting in an apartment with no electricity or water, he ran around looking for money from his Hollywood friends.
Sizemore told the Daily Mail he asked Nicholson for a $10 million loan. Nicholson’s response, according to Sizemore: “‘In a word, no.”
Sizemore died in March 2023 of a brain aneurysm.
He's a Big Los Angeles Lakers Fan
Nicholson has held court-side seats for over 25 years now. He's skipped some games over the past few years, but in 2023, he's back sitting courtside with a vengeance.
He May Have Had Direct Access to Hugh's Mansion
In 2015, Playboy Enterprises reported they had found a series of Polaroids from the late '70s showing an excavation project at the Mansion. Curious, they asked the general manager, who noted the photos were probably from when some tunnels were built around that time. So some reporters headed over to the Mansion and searched through a pile of blueprints for some extra evidence.
Lo and behold, they found two blueprints referencing the tunnels, one of which said they were connected to the homes of “Mr. J. Nicholson,” “Mr. W. Beatty,” “Mr. K Douglas” and “Mr. J. Caan.” It can be reasonably concluded those names stand for Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, Kirk Douglas and James Caan, since they apparently lived a tunnel’s length away from the Mansion at the time.
While the reporters couldn’t find anyone to officially confirm or deny their existence, it’s rumored the tunnels had been closed up in 1989. All parties, including Nicholson, declined comment. If the story is true, we hope whenever he popped open that secret Mansion door he shouted “Here’s Johnny!”
He Didn’t Know His ‘Sister’ Was Actually His Mother
June Frances Nicholson gave birth to Nicholson in April of 1937 when she was just 17 years old. Nicholson grew up believing June’s mother and father were his own mother and father, and that June was his sister.
He had no idea June had been his mother until a “Time” magazine reporter unearthed the details while researching a story on the actor in 1974—Nicholson finally found out the truth about June when he was 37 years old. She had been dead for over a decade.
He's Not a Believer
During a 1992 "Vanity Fair" interview, Nicholson spoke about his religious beliefs: “I don’t believe in God now. I can still work up an envy for someone who has a faith. I can see how that could be a deeply soothing experience.”
He Lives Alone, and Expects He Might Die Alone
Now 86 and having lived a lavish and debaucherous lifestyle, Nicholson mostly avoids the spotlight (save for his beloved Lakers games) and lives alone on Mullholland Drive. “’I would love that one last romance,’” he told Closer Weekly in 2015. “‘But I’m not very realistic about it happening. What I can’t deny is my yearning.’”
He goes on to say that while he still has that rebellious, young-at-heart soul, he also doesn’t let himself hit on women in public because it “‘just doesn’t feel right at my age.’” According to the tabloid, an unnamed source close to Nicholson said the actor was “‘afraid of dying alone in that house.’”
It’s a somber thought, but few people have lived such a legendary life in the first place. Hats off to you, Mr. Nicholson.
And He's Still Yearning...