in the late 1960s, Jack Nicholson was just Jack Nicholson: a guy with some interesting, supporting roles under his belt and, one suspected, a slew of starring roles in his future.
In September 1969, not long after Nicholson had charmed moviegoers and critics alike with his deceptively easygoing performance as a sweet-natured, booze-sodden, small-town lawyer in Dennis Hopperâ€™sÂ Easy Rider, LIFE sent Arthur Schatz to photograph the 32-year-old actor at his new home on Mulholland Drive, overlooking Franklin Canyon in Los Angeles.
In this pictures that feature Nicholson playing with his 5-year-old daughter, Jennifer; taking his very first piano lesson from teacher Josef Pacholczyk in preparation for his next role (as classical pianist-turned-roughneck Robert Dupea in one of the great American films of the 1970s,Â Five Easy Pieces); hanging out with his friend and the director ofÂ Five Easy Pieces, Bob Rafelson; and generally enjoying the good life in sunny California, Schatz captured the private side of a man on the brink of what would prove to be life-changing stardom.
Ultimately, though, perhaps the most fascinating aspect of these pictures, four long decades later, is how recognizable todayâ€™s Nicholson is in them â€” that is to say, how recognizably Jack he is in them. The energy, the charisma, the intelligence, the well-known (and so often lovingly parodied) mischievous grin: these are all utterly familiar traits of a singular figure who, even into his 70s, continues to command not only the big screen, and not only any public event â€” the Oscars, a Lakers game, a golf tournament â€” he attends. They are, finally, the familiar traits of a man who, it sometimes seems, more than any other actor alive, happily looms like some trickster colossus over the entire Hollywood landscape â€¦ and no one anywhere begrudges him his dominion.
Source: LIFE magazine
Post by Coco Pastis