Date of Birth: April 22nd 1937
Three time Academy Award winning American actor internationally renowned for his often dark-themed portrayals of neurotic characters. He started his career as an actor, writer, and producer, working for and with Roger Corman, among others. This included his screen debut in The Cry Baby Killer (1958), where he played a juvenile delinquent who panics after shooting two other teenagers, The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), in which he had a small role as a masochistic dental patient, and roles in two other Roger Corman films The Raven (1963) and The Terror (his first directing role for one day)(1963), co-starring then-wife Sandra Knight.
With his acting career heading nowhere, Nicholson seemed resigned to a career behind the camera as a writer/director. His first real taste of writing success was the LSD-fueled screenplay for 1967's The Trip, which starred Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. However, after a spot opened up in Fonda and Hopper's Easy Rider, it led to his first big acting break. Nicholson played hard-drinking lawyer George Hanson, for which he received his first Oscar nomination. The part of Hanson was a lucky break for Nicholson -- the role had in fact been written for actor Rip Torn, who was a close friend of screen writer Terry Southern, but Torn withdrew from the project after a bitter argument with the film's co-director Dennis Hopper, during which the two men almost came to blows.
More of his earlier and notable film roles: Hal Ashby's The Last Detail (1973) and the classic Roman Polanski noir thriller, Chinatown (1974) (he was Oscar-nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for both films). He also starred in The Who's Tommy (1975), directed by Ken Russell, and Michelangelo Antonioni's The Passenger (1975).