4/22/1937 (82 years old) New York, New York, United States
Whether playing a loser or a lothario, a heavy or a hero, this iconic actor is always, on some level, Jack Nicholson. His first Hollywood job was running errands for animation legends William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, but he didn't stay behind the scenes for long and landed his first big-screen gig in the 1958 crime thriller, Cry Baby Killer. In the 1960s the hungry up-and-comer turned in a bunch of offbeat performances in a string of low-budget flicks, a few of which he wrote. He was over 30 when he earned his first of many Oscar nods---not to mention an expanded fan base---as a disgruntled lawyer in 1969's Easy Rider. In the 1970s Nicholson tapped into the decade's unrest by essaying a slew of unforgettable roles in legendary films: a rebel in Five Easy Pieces, a misogynist in Carnal Knowledge, a lovesick gumshoe in Chinatown and an unruly inmate in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which snagged Nicholson his first Academy Award. He became a scenery-chewing, eyebrow-arching megastar in the 1980s, delivering broad yet interesting performances in more commercial fare like Terms of Endearment, The Witches of Eastwick and Batman. Nicholson's personal life was as dramatic as his career. At the age of 37, he learned that the woman whom he thought was his mother was actually his grandmother and that his supposed sister was his biological mom. As for his own romantic entanglements, he had a longtime on-again, off-again relationship with Anjelica Huston that ended acrimoniously in 1990 when he fathered a child with starlet Rebecca Broussard, and later he was linked to the much younger Lara Flynn Boyle. In the late 1990s the actor started to slow down. He took a four-year hiatus from the big screen after his Oscar-winning turn as a surly obsessive-compulsive writer in 1997's As Good as It Gets, but he was back to winning accolades for his performances in About Schmidt (2002) and The Departed (2006). Even when he's not on screen, Nicholson is a ubiquitous industry presence, frequently spotted on red carpets, at awards shows and courtside at Lakers games.