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Nicholson: A Biography

Nicholson: A Biography

4.3 8
by Marc Eliot

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For five decades, Jack Nicholson has been part of film history. With twelve Oscar nominations to his credit and legendary roles in films like Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, Terms of Endearment, The Shining,


For five decades, Jack Nicholson has been part of film history. With twelve Oscar nominations to his credit and legendary roles in films like Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, Terms of Endearment, The Shining, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Nicholson creates original, memorable characters like no other actor of his generation. And his personal life has been no less of an adventure—Nicholson has always been at the center of the Hollywood elite and has courted some of the most famous and beautiful women in the world.
    Relying on years of extensive research and interviews with insiders who know Nicholson best, acclaimed biographer Marc Eliot sheds new light on Nicholson's life on and off the screen. From Nicholson’s working class childhood in New Jersey, where family secrets threatened to tear his family apart, to raucous nights on the town with Warren Beatty and tumultuous relationships with starlets like Michelle Phillips, Anjelica Huston, and Lara Flynn Boyle, to movie sets working with such legendary directors and costars as Dennis Hopper, Stanley Kubrick, Meryl Streep, and Roman Polanski, Eliot paints a sweeping picture of the breadth of Nicholson’s fifty-year career in film, as well as an intimate portrait of his personal life.
     Equally at home on the bookshelves of serious film historians and fans of compulsively readable Hollywood biographies, Nicholson is both a comprehensive tribute to a film legend and an entertaining look at a truly remarkable life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Unless Nicholson writes his own...this might be as good as we get."
Library Journal
★ 12/01/2013
Celebrity watchers will not be disappointed by this engrossing biography of Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson. Eliot, who has written more than a dozen books on popular culture, including biographies of Cary Grant, James Stewart, and Clint Eastwood, expertly covers Nicholson's early life, his collaboration with B movie director Roger Corman, and his breakout performance in Easy Rider, followed by stardom in 40-plus films, such as Five Easy Pieces, The Shining, Chinatown, and The Departed. Eliot also captures Nicholson's "bad boy" image, the actor's many love affairs (Michelle Phillips, Anjelica Huston), his obsession with the L.A. Lakers, and escapades in his freewheeling personal life. Nicholson fans may be surprised by some of what is revealed. For instance, he was more famous in his early career for writing screenplays (he cowrote the Monkees movie Head with director Bob Rafelson and wrote the Corman-directed cult classic The Trip), he fathered Susan Anspach's child when she starred with him in Five Easy Pieces, and he didn't discover who his real parents were until he was a famous adult. Now 76, Nicholson hasn't made a movie since 2010, leading to retirement rumors. VERDICT Fans of celebrity bios and film students alike will welcome this well-researched addition to the genre.—Rosellen Brewer, Sno-Isle Libs., Marysville, WA
Kirkus Reviews
There is nothing in these pages from celebrity biographer Eliot (Steve McQueen, 2011) that will come as a surprise to those who have followed the actor through his career and personal life. While it may be fun to remember that Nicholson duly made his appearance on Matinee Theatre and that he took a turn on the Andy Griffith Show, there is no sense of the author digging for the goods: new material, a fresh perspective or insights into Nicholson's moviemaking. Mostly, readers will wonder at the blatantly obvious comments--e.g., "although it took many hard years to happen, he eventually became a star." As for Nicholson's notorious sex life, it either throws a creepy Freudian shadow--"The seeds of sex were clearly planted in Jack from a very early age. ‘I was very driven. I remember being at least mentally sexually excited about things from childhood, even sooner than eight' "--or touches that too-much-information chord: "While tripping [on LSD], he could confront the persistent problem of premature ejaculation." Movies take a back seat to goodies like a tour with Michael Douglas, where there were all the "young and beautiful women. They devoured them like shrimp….According to Jack, tongue firmly in cheek (and elsewhere), the tour was all about politics, social behavior, and women." Eliot makes it extremely difficult to take the work seriously or want to take Nicholson so. When the author starts committing pop psychology--"Women were no longer purely objects of desire but a form of self-affirmation, that he was still able to get them"--it is clear the whole project has taken a wrong turn, way back somewhere. Too tawdry by half and as groundbreaking as a Wikipedia entry.

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5.21(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.81(d)

Meet the Author

MARC ELIOT is the internationally published, New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books on popular culture, among them highly acclaimed biographies of Cary Grant, James Stewart, Clint Eastwood, Phil Ochs and Steve McQueen. He writes for a number of publications and frequently speaks about film to universities, film groups and on radio and television.

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Nicholson: A Biography 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Rick_Tower More than 1 year ago
Jack Nicholson is one of the world’s most memorable and most talented actors. He is a bigger than life personality and Nicholson: A Biography does a good job of detailing his life in front of the camera, in the spotlight, and in private life. It is a fine book, well worth reading.
JiffyPopYumYum More than 1 year ago
An absolutely brilliant look into the life and career of acting legend Jack Nicholson!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are a Jack Nicholson fan, there is nothing new in this book that hasn't been written somewhere else. It has quite a few factual errors, including saying more than once that Jack's daughter Jennifer is from his relationship with Rebecca Broussard, which she is not. She is from his only marriage to Sandra Knight. I was confused when he said the movie "The Pledge" was set in the 1950's, not the movie I saw. I usually don't buy unauthorized biographies and I thought I'd take a chance on this one, lesson learned.
SarahMcClurg More than 1 year ago
I love Jack Nicholson and found this book to be a very interesting look into his life. He is a great actor but I didn't know much about him outside of watching his movies. This book really told a lot about his personal life. I found it very interesting. I highly recommend this book
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bacoyds More than 1 year ago
"factual" good, easy to read bio. 5 Star