What REALLY happened to Jack Nicholson? Did he retire? Inside the actor’s rise and fall from grace

WHERE’S Johnny? As ‘reclusive’ Jack Nicholson’s friends voice fears he will die alone, FEMAIL reveals how he vanished from the spotlight he once adored – after years of awards success, partying, and INFAMOUS womanizing

  • Jack, 85, starred in more than 70 movies and TV shows over a 50-year career
  • However, he hasn’t starred in anything since 2010 – but what happened to him?
  • 2013 reports claimed that he was suffering from memory loss, which he denied 
  • He now hasn’t been seen since October 2021, and friends are worried about him
  • FEMAIL recapped his rise – and fall from grace as his pal’s concerns grow 

Jack Nicholson was once a beacon of Hollywood success – starring in more than 70 movies and TV shows and earning 12 Oscar nominations throughout his vast, decades-long career, making him the most-nominated male actor in history.

All the while, the on-screen heartthrob became known as a wild partier and an infamous womanizer, embarking on a series of high-profile romances and fathering six children by five different women over the years.

But in the late 2000s, after spending more than 50 years in the spotlight, the Hollywood legend shocked the world when he said goodbye to his life of whirlwind romances with models and boozy nights out with his actor pals.

Jack Nicholson was once a beacon of Hollywood success - starring in more than 70 movies and TV shows and earning 12 Oscar nominations throughout his vast, decades-long career

Jack Nicholson was once a beacon of Hollywood success – starring in more than 70 movies and TV shows and earning 12 Oscar nominations throughout his vast, decades-long career

While Hollywood legend (seen in 2021), now 85, never publicly announced his retirement from acting, he hasn't appeared in anything since 2010 and he hasn't even been seen in over a year

While Hollywood legend (seen in 2021), now 85, never publicly announced his retirement from acting, he hasn’t appeared in anything since 2010 and he hasn’t even been seen in over a year

Instead, Jack traded in his highly publicized and glamorous life for a much quieter lifestyle in recent years. 

While Hollywood legend, now 85, never publicly announced his retirement from acting, he hasn’t appeared in anything since 2010. He hasn’t even been seen in over a year – but what lead to Jack putting his previously fast-paced and highly successful career on pause?

But how did Jack go from one of the biggest movie stars on the globe to a hermit who never leaves his home? As his pal's concerns grow, FEMAIL has taken a look back at his rise to fame - and tragic fall from grace

But how did Jack go from one of the biggest movie stars on the globe to a hermit who never leaves his home? As his pal’s concerns grow, FEMAIL has taken a look back at his rise to fame – and tragic fall from grace

Numerous reports have suggested that he is suffering from ‘dementia’ or ‘memory loss,’ but when asked about his sudden disappearance in 2013, he insisted his brain was as sharp as ever and that he was simply being more picky about his roles.

Sources say he now spends his days shackled up inside his Beverly Hills mansion and that he almost never leaves – with friends recently voicing their fears that he will ‘die a recluse’ after ‘leading such a colorful life.’

But how did Jack go from one of the biggest movie stars on the globe to a hermit who never leaves his home? As his pal’s concerns grow, FEMAIL has taken a look back at his rise to fame – and tragic fall from grace.

Jack’s rise to fame: How the New Jersey-native overcame the shock of learning his sister was actually his mother to become one of the most successful Hollywood actors 

Jack (seen in high school) had a somewhat controversial upbringing - for the first 40 years of his life, he believed that his mom, June, was his sister, while being raised by his grandparents

Jack (seen in high school) had a somewhat controversial upbringing – for the first 40 years of his life, he believed that his mom, June, was his sister, while being raised by his grandparents

When Jack (seen in 1958) was 17, he moved from New Jersey to California, where he landed a secretary job for animation directors William Hanna and Joseph Barbera at the MGM studios

 When Jack (seen in 1958) was 17, he moved from New Jersey to California, where he landed a secretary job for animation directors William Hanna and Joseph Barbera at the MGM studios

Jack had a somewhat controversial upbringing from the start – after his mother, an unmarried showgirl named June Frances Nicholson, gave birth to the actor at age 18, her parents decided to raise him as their own child, pretending that June was his sister.

For nearly four decades, Jack believed that his mom was his sibling, until 1974, when Time magazine uncovered the truth and told him about its findings.

While speaking to Patrick McGilligan for his biography, entitled Jack’s Life, the Shining star called it ‘the most f**ked thing he had ever heard.’

He also said the discovery was ‘dramatic’ to Time magazine, but added that it ‘wasn’t’ something he’d ‘call traumatizing.’

The actor later told Rolling Stone, when asked about the shock revelation, ‘I was very impressed by their ability to keep the secret, if nothing else. It’s done great things for me.’

At the same time, he was also studying to be an actor, and he eventually landed his debut role in the 1958 teen drama The Cry Baby Killer. He is pictured in the movie

At the same time, he was also studying to be an actor, and he eventually landed his debut role in the 1958 teen drama The Cry Baby Killer. He is pictured in the movie

After that, his career soon took off - and Jack went on become one of the most well-known actors of all time. He is seen in The Shining

After that, his career soon took off – and Jack went on become one of the most well-known actors of all time. He is seen in The Shining

He landed more than 70 roles in a slew of big movies and TV shows and winning an impressive amount of awards over his 50-year career. He is pictured in Batman

He landed more than 70 roles in a slew of big movies and TV shows and winning an impressive amount of awards over his 50-year career. He is pictured in Batman

Some of his best known acting credits include Anger Management, Easy Rider, Something's Gotta Give, The Departed, A Few Good Men, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (seen)

Some of his best known acting credits include Anger Management, Easy Rider, Something's Gotta Give, The Departed (seen), A Few Good Men, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Some of his best known acting credits include Anger Management, Easy Rider, Something’s Gotta Give, The Departed (right), A Few Good Men, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (left)

June moved away from Jack – who grew up in Neptune City, New Jersey – when he was four to pursue her career as a showgirl. 

He earned 12 Oscar nominations throughout his vast, decades-long career, making him the most-nominated male actor in history

He earned 12 Oscar nominations throughout his vast, decades-long career, making him the most-nominated male actor in history

But when he was 17, he decided to move out to California to be with her, where he landed a secretary job for animation directors William Hanna and Joseph Barbera at the MGM cartoon studio.

At the same time, he was also studying to be an actor, and he eventually landed his debut role in the 1958 teen drama The Cry Baby Killer.

After that, his career soon took off – and Jack went on become one of the most well-known actors of all time, landing more than 70 roles in a slew of big movies and TV shows and winning an impressive amount of awards over his 50-year career.

Some of his best known acting credits include The King of Marvin Gardens, Anger Management, The Crossing Guard, The Pledge, The Little Shop of Horrors, The Witches of Eastwick, Hoffa, Mars Attacks!, Carnal Knowledge, Batman, Ironweed, Reds, Easy Rider, Something’s Gotta Give, The Last Detail, The Departed, Prizzi’s Honor, Chinatown, About Schmidt, As Good as It Gets, Terms of Endearment, Five Easy Pieces, A Few Good Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and of course, The Shining.

Jack’s wild reputation as a womanizer: The actor was linked to more than 10 famous actresses, singers, and models during the height of his career

As Jack's career flourished, so did his love life - and by the 1980s, he had earned quite the reputation as a wild partier and impassioned womanizer. He is seen with Louise Fletcher

As Jack’s career flourished, so did his love life – and by the 1980s, he had earned quite the reputation as a wild partier and impassioned womanizer. He is seen with Louise Fletcher

He embarked on a series of high-profile romances over the years. He is seen with Rebecca Broussard

He embarked on a series of high-profile romances over the years. He is seen with Rebecca Broussard

Nicholson's lovers also included actresses, singers, and models such as Michelle Phillips (seen), Jill St. John, Winnie Hollman, Bebe Buell, Lara Flynn Boyle, Kate Moss, Paz de la Huerta

Nicholson's lovers also included actresses, singers, and models such as Michelle Phillips, Jill St. John, Winnie Hollman (seen), Bebe Buell, Lara Flynn Boyle, Kate Moss, Paz de la Huerta

Nicholson’s lovers also included actresses, singers, and models such as Michelle Phillips (left), Jill St. John, Winnie Hollman (right), Bebe Buell, Lara Flynn Boyle, Kate Moss, Paz de la Huerta

As Jack’s career flourished, so did his love life – and by the 1980s, he had earned quite the reputation as a player.

Nicholson’s lovers have included actresses, singers, and models such as Michelle Phillips, Jill St. John, Winnie Hollman, Bebe Buell, Lara Flynn Boyle, Kate Moss, Paz de la Huerta, and Rebecca Broussard. 

Playboy model Karen Mayo-Chandler once said of the star, ‘He’s a nonstop sex machine,’ while actress Kim Basinger referred to him as ‘the most highly sexed individual she had ever met.’

In Marc Eliot’s book about Jack, entitled Nicholson, he said much of the actor’s time during the height of his career was filled with ’round-the-clock partying, drinks, drugs, sex, lots of tea (of the smoking kind), and beautiful, hot, willing girls who loved to get just as high as the boys and have a good time.’

‘The refrigerator never had any food in it. Just milk (for Jack’s sometimes sensitive stomach), beer, and pot in the freezer to keep it fresh,’ he wrote.

In Marc Eliot’s book about Jack (seen with Rebecca), he said much of the actor's time during the height of his career was filled with 'round-the-clock partying, drinks, drugs, and sex'

In Marc Eliot’s book about Jack (seen with Rebecca), he said much of the actor’s time during the height of his career was filled with ’round-the-clock partying, drinks, drugs, and sex’

He said Jack (seen in 1975) often 'gathered the hottest starlets and all the available young men, who wanted to share beds filled with these naked, luscious, beautiful women'

He said Jack (seen in 1975) often ‘gathered the hottest starlets and all the available young men, who wanted to share beds filled with these naked, luscious, beautiful women’

He also had a highly controversial affair with Addams Family actress Anjelica Huston (seen in 1975) - with her later accusing him of repeatedly cheating on her during their 16-year romance

He also had a highly controversial affair with Addams Family actress Anjelica Huston (seen in 1975) – with her later accusing him of repeatedly cheating on her during their 16-year romance

‘On weekends, Harry Dean [Stanton] liked to throw sex parties that started on Friday night and ended sometime Monday morning.

‘”Orgies,” he proudly called them, that gathered the hottest starlets and all the available young men, some single and some not, who wanted to get whacked out and share beds filled with these naked, luscious, beautiful women.’

Jack was only married once – to his The Terror co-star Sandra Knight from 1962 to 1966, and their divorce was finalized two years after that.

He also had a highly controversial affair with Addams Family actress Anjelica Huston – with her later accusing him of repeatedly cheating on her during their 16-year romance. 

‘I was annihilated emotionally. That was probably the toughest period of my life. I’m childish, and I did make a mistake,’ he later said of his infidelities to Anjelica. 

In 2012, when asked about his many romances, Jack said he ‘doesn’t deny’ being a ‘womanizer,’ explaining, ‘I am an extreme person. But the life of a gigolo always ends badly.’ 

Jack fathered six children by five different women. He is seen with two of his kids, Lorraine and Raymond

Jack fathered six children by five different women. He is seen with some of his kids in 1996

Jack fathered six children by five different women. He is seen with some of his kids over the years

In 2012, when asked about his many romances, Jack (seen in 1992 with Rebecca) said he 'doesn't deny' being a 'womanizer,' explaining, 'I am an extreme person'

In 2012, when asked about his many romances, Jack (seen in 1992 with Rebecca) said he ‘doesn’t deny’ being a ‘womanizer,’ explaining, ‘I am an extreme person’

In 2015, Jack (seen in 2020 with his son Ray) said he was still determined to find the one, telling Closer Weekly , 'I would love that one last romance, I can’t deny my yearning'

In 2015, Jack (seen in 2020 with his son Ray) said he was still determined to find the one, telling Closer Weekly , ‘I would love that one last romance, I can’t deny my yearning’

At the time, he said he was done ‘fooling around’ with women because he ‘no longer had the energy.’ 

He also once admitted to People that he believed the ‘realization that his mother didn’t want him’ contributed to his relationship with women.

‘Along with that came desperate feelings of need,’ he explained. ‘Basically, I still relate to women by trying to please them as if my survival depended on them. In my long-term relationships, I’m always the one that gets left.’

In 2015, he said he was still determined to find the one, telling Closer Weekly, ‘I would love that one last romance, but I’m not very realistic about it happening. What I can’t deny is my yearning.

‘I’m definitely still wild at heart, but I’ve struck biogravity. I can’t hit on women in public anymore. I didn’t decide this – it just doesn’t feel right at my age.’

Jack’s fall from grace: Why he ultimately put his career on pause for a much quieter lifestyle out of the spotlight

In 2010, Jack's acting career came to a sudden halt after he starred in the movie How Do You Know (seen)

In 2010, Jack’s acting career came to a sudden halt after he starred in the movie How Do You Know (seen)

After its premiere, he shied away from the spotlight, leaving many to wonder what had happened to the Hollywood legend who was once always plastered all over the big screen

After its premiere, he shied away from the spotlight, leaving many to wonder what had happened to the Hollywood legend who was once always plastered all over the big screen

In 2010, Jack’s acting career came to a sudden halt after he starred in the movie How Do You Know.

After its premiere, he shied away from the spotlight, leaving many to wonder what had happened to the Hollywood legend who was once always plastered all over the big screen.

Then, in 2013 – three years after his final role – RadarOnline reported that the star was ‘retiring from acting due to memory loss.’

‘There is a simple reason behind his decision – it’s memory loss,’ a source told the outlet at the time.

‘Quite frankly, at 76, Jack has memory issues and can no longer remember the lines being asked of him.’ 

However, while speaking to The Sun months later, he shut those rumors down, insisting that his ‘mathematician’s brain’ was as sharp as ever.

He added that he was less driven to ‘be out there any more’ because he ‘only wanted to do films that move people’ and movies ‘about emotions.’

‘I had the most chilling thought that maybe people in their twenties and thirties don’t actually want to be moved anymore,’ he continued.

‘They may want just to see more bombs, more explosions, because that is what they have grown up with. And I’ll never do that type of movie.’

In 2015, he returned to the screen for the first time in five years to give a speech during Saturday Night Live's 40th anniversary special (seen)

In 2015, he returned to the screen for the first time in five years to give a speech during Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary special (seen)

He also sat down for an interview with HBO to discuss his friendship with boxer Muhammad Ali in 2016 following the athlete's death (seen)

He also sat down for an interview with HBO to discuss his friendship with boxer Muhammad Ali in 2016 following the athlete’s death (seen)

He also told NBC News that the speculation of his retirement was ‘100 per cent false’ and that he was ‘actively reading scripts’ and ‘looking forward to his next project.’

In 2015, he returned to the screen for the first time in five years to give a speech during Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary special.

He also sat down for an interview with HBO to discuss his friendship with boxer Muhammad Ali in 2016 following the athlete’s death – but he still hadn’t become attached to any new movies since 2010.

However, in 2017, reports hit the web that Jack had been cast in his first flick in nearly a decade – the remake of Toni Erdmann opposite Kristen Wiig – but unfortunately, the film was never actually made. 

Around that time, his Easy Rider co-star Peter Fonda was asked if he though Jack would ever return to the big screen, and he admitted, ‘I think he is basically retired.’

‘I don’t want to speak for him, but he has done a lot of work and he has done very well as a person financially,’ the actor added. ‘Sometimes ­people have a reason that you don’t know, and it’s not for me to ask.’

In 2019, when director Mike Flanagan released a sequel to The Shining, called Doctor Sleep, he revealed that he had asked Jack to make a cameo in it, but said he had ultimately declined.

In September 2021, RadarOnline reported that the actor was suffering from ‘dementia,’ with an insider stating at the time that he’s living out his ‘sad last days’ shackled up in his longtime Beverly Hills home. 

In 2013, RadarOnline reported that the star was 'retiring from acting due to memory loss.' However, he later denied these rumors. He is seen in January 2020

In 2013, RadarOnline reported that the star was ‘retiring from acting due to memory loss.’ However, he later denied these rumors. He is seen in January 2020

In September 2021, RadarOnline reported once again that the actor was suffering from 'dementia.' He is seen in October 2021

In September 2021, RadarOnline reported once again that the actor was suffering from ‘dementia.’ He is seen in October 2021

Most recently, another report from RadarOnline claimed that the Hollywood legend's (seen in 2021) longtime friends were growing concerned over his increasingly reclusive nature

Most recently, another report from RadarOnline claimed that the Hollywood legend’s (seen in 2021) longtime friends were growing concerned over his increasingly reclusive nature

He’s owned the four-bedroom, three-bathroom, 3,303-square-foot mansion – located on Mulholland Drive – since the ’70s. 

The insider added that his 'socializing days are gone,' while voicing their fears over him 'dying a recluse' after 'leading such a colorful life.' He is seen in 2021

The insider added that his ‘socializing days are gone,’ while voicing their fears over him ‘dying a recluse’ after ‘leading such a colorful life.’ He is seen in 2021

‘Jack and I have been friends for years and he doesn’t leave his house anymore… I think his son and daughter are looking after him now,’ a pal of the actor’s told the outlet at the time. 

‘Physically he is fine – but his mind is gone. It’s really sad to see such a super talented actor, like Jack, go out this way.’ 

However, Jack was pictured at a Los Angeles Lakers game one month later – in October 2021 – marking the last time he was seen publicly. 

Before that, he was spotted was at another basketball match in January 2020.

Most recently, another report from RadarOnline claimed that the Hollywood legend’s longtime friends were growing concerned over his increasingly reclusive nature.

‘He’s made it clear his home is his castle. But people just wish he’d come out of the house and pop up to tell them how – or at least reassure folks he’s OK,’ said a source earlier this week.

The insider added that his ‘socializing days are gone,’ while voicing their fears over him ‘dying a recluse’ after ‘leading such a colorful life.’

‘His kids will visit, but they’re his only connection to the world. It’s like he doesn’t want to face reality anymore – and that’s just sad,’ they added.

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