16 Stimulating Tales Of Jack Nicholson's Wild Escapades

Born in 1937 in New Jersey, Jack Nicholson got his start in film when he moved to Hollywood alone at the age of 13. The notorious and highly versatile method actor is known for his starring roles in such films as Easy Rider, The Shining, A Few Good Men, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, to name a few. He has been nominated for more Academy Awards than any other male actor in history.

Widely considered to be one of the great actors of the 20th century, it's clear that Jack Nicholson has mastered the art of playing unconventional characters - a talent he has acquired not just through practice and sheer devotion, but also through unique life experiences all his own.

Photo: The Shining / Warner Bros.

  • He Once Offered A Bump Of Cocaine To Princess Margaret
    Photo: Associated Press / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    He Once Offered A Bump Of Cocaine To Princess Margaret

    In Brian Kellow's biography of the Hollywood super-agent, Sue Mengers, Kellow describes a lavish party in 1979 thrown by Mengers in Beverly Hills. The party was attended by a slew of Hollywood royalty, including Jack Nicholson, whom Mengers represented. Speaking of royalty, Queen Elizabeth's sister, Princess Margaret, who frequented Los Angeles at the time, also made an appearance. 

    According to Kellow, Jack was introduced to Princess Margaret at some point during the party. But rather than following protocol when meeting royalty - such as bowing and addressing them properly - Jack offered the princess a bump of cocaine “in a bid to get to know her better.”

    The princess declined Jack's offer, and his antics are said to have infuriated Mengers, who had high hopes of getting an invite to Buckingham Palace. 

  • Errol Flynn Taught Him How To Use Cocaine To Enhance Sexual Pleasure
    Photo: Universal Pictures / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    According to a biography about John Belushi entitled Wired, author Bob Woodward claims that Nicholson divided his drugs into two classes: upstairs and downstairs drugs. Whereas downstairs drugs were available for partygoers and non-esteemed house guests, Nicholson reserved his upstairs drugs for lovers, close friends, and VIP guests.

    Among his upstairs drugs, Nicholson is said to have kept a stash of cocaine for slightly more unconventional purposes. The biographer Marc Eliot writes

    By following what he’d heard about Errol Flynn, he learned that by putting a dab on the tip of his manhood, he could last longer, and, because of the way women reacted to that, he also believed it intensified the sensations for them.

  • Roman Polanski's Infamous Alleged Indiscretion Took Place At Jack's House, Where The Drugs Were So Well Hidden, The Cops Couldn't Find Them
    Photo: Georges Biard / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0

    In March 1977, Roman Polanski, who directed Nicholson in Chinatown, was arrested and charged with a number of crimes, including a lascivious act upon a child under 14 and furnishing a controlled substance to a minor.

    The alleged crimes took place at Nicholson's house, where Polanski was photographing 13-year-old Samantha Gailey (now Geimer) for French Vogue, for which he was guest editor. The pair was discovered by Anjelica Houston, who accidentally walked in on them.  

    According to Marc Eliot, Nicholson's house was filled with drugs when police came by to investigate the crime scene, yet the police discovered nothing. “Fortunately, the rest of Jack’s ample stash of drugs was so well hidden in fake shaving cream containers and the like, that the police missed it,” Eliot writes.

  • On His First Acid Trip, He Had Castration Fantasies And Saw The Face Of God

    In Marc Eliot's biography Nicholson, the author recounts the actor's first experience with LSD, one that was allegedly quite intense. He writes:

    Jack’s experiences with the drug were life-changing. He believed after taking it the first time that he had seen the face of God. He also had castration fantasies, homoerotic fantasies, and revelations about not being wanted as an infant.

  • Everybody Got Stoned While Filming The 'Easy Rider' Campfire Scene

    One of the most famous scenes in one of the most important films of the 20th century involves Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, and Dennis Hopper smoking a joint around a campfire.

    According to Peter Fonda, the guys smoked a joint every time they shot a new take. Nicholson later spoke of the scene, saying: 

    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. 

    Laszlo Kovacs, the film's cinematographer, backs up Jack's story:

    It was so amazing when we were shooting that campfire scene how much Jack was in control. He was so stoned, but he was so great. He remembered every word.

  • According to Nicholson biographer Marc Eliot, on the set of the film Ironweed, Jack and Meryl Streep started a not-so-secret romance that lasted the entirety of the shoot: 

    Once filming began on Ironweed, everyone on set and those who heard about it, were talking not about the film’s script, or direction, or scenic design, but about Jack and Meryl. Often during shooting, his Winnebago seemed to be balanced on four overworked Slinkys.

    All of this allegedly took place while Jack was in an on-off romance with Anjelica Huston, and while he was also maybe sleeping with actress Veronica Cartwright.