The Truth About Jack Nicholson's Relationship With Anjelica Huston

Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston are, without a doubt, Hollywood royalty. He's the star of diverse classics such as "The Shining" and Tim Burton's "Batman." Born into Hollywood royalty, she's the enigmatic, unconventional leading lady who embodied the sultry Maerose in "Prizzi's Honor," as well as the iconic Morticia Addams. Together, they were dynamite, wining and dining in the most exclusive A-list spheres.

Hailing from tragic, albeit socioeconomically disparate backgrounds, the long time lovers were drawn together by their differences in the 1970s, theirs being a rare Hollywood romance that lasted for decades. As seen in "Prizzi's Honor," the twosome had an exceptionally smoldering onscreen rapport, testament to their palpable bond away from the cameras. But in Tinseltown, where the line between reality and fiction blurs, Huston and Nicholson's relationship was anything but a romcom idyll. A relationship demands a lot of commitment, but within the temptations and excesses of Hollywood, this is often a challenge. Unfortunately for these lovebirds, it was those enticements that spelled their undoing.

Ever the cad, Nicholson couldn't quite commit himself to one woman, even if he did love Huston with distinct fervor. To echo one of his most famous roles, one which appears to reflect his own issues with women, he told Parade (via Huffington Post) that his love of Huston was "as good as it gets." Get the Kleenex ready: This one is a bigger weepie than "Terms of Endearment" and "Agnes Brown" combined. This is the truth about Jack Nicholson's relationship with Anjelica Huston.

Sparks flew from the moment they met

In 1973, Jack Nicholson was already an established actor, having cemented his position as a Hollywood icon in the making with "Easy Rider" and "Five Easy Pieces." Anjelica Huston, meanwhile, was just starting out in the industry, her best years and a glittering career ahead of her. That year, the actors met for the first time at a party at Nicholson's house. Per Stuff, Huston had just broken up with her controlling boyfriend Bob Richardson when she decided to pop by the A-list house party.

When Nicholson set eyes on the beguiling brunette, he knew she was unlike anyone he had ever met before. "I saw cla-a-a-ss," he told People of first meeting Huston, adding, "She's got this great natural sophistication, but she could live in Alaska with a guy who hunts wolves and do just fine." Also apparent were the class differences between the pair, as People notes. Being the daughter of famed director John Huston, Anjelica was raised in a life of privilege. Nicholson, on the other hand, grew up in poverty, the son of a teen girl whom the actor believed to be his sister until he was in his 30s.

Despite these socioeconomic differences, Huston also saw her own father in Nicholson. As a friend recounted to People, Nicholson represented "an older man who was just as charismatic as her father — and just as big a chaser." The duo danced the night away and, according to Huston, "fell instantly in love," per CNN.

He was passionately in love with Anjelica Huston

Once they got together, the passion between Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston was palpable. Nicholson lavished attention on his girlfriend and legend has it that he even bought her an elephant for her birthday. Speaking on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen," Huston also hinted at, ahem, the pair having a satisfying love life. When Nicholson discussed his lady love, he waxed lyrical. "She's a dark, coiled spring of a woman with long flowing lines," he told People in 1985. "She's got a mind and a literary sense of style ... It's love, I guess, and only love!"

The couple starred together in "Prizzi's Honor," with The New York Times noting their sizzling onscreen sexual chemistry. Speaking with the outlet, Nicholson described his lover as "very beautiful in a powerful way. Deep class.” Huston was equally smitten, branding Nicholson her "soulmate."

Winning an Oscar when your partner goes home empty-handed can be difficult for acting couples (Marlee Matlin, for instance, detailed William Hurt's jealousy when she won for "Children of a Lesser God" and he didn't), but Nicholson harbored none of that animosity when Huston took home the Best Supporting Actress gong for her portrayal of Maerose Prizzi. In fact, watching Huston win the award was the happiest moment of his life. "I never had a greater moment," he told Rolling Stone, explaining that while Oscars season usually filled him with dread, Huston's win had made him enjoy the event in a way he never thought possible.

The reason they never tied the knot

Despite being together for almost 20 years, marriage was never on the cards for Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston. The former did, however, tell People in a 1980 interview that he constantly asked for his lover's hand in marriage. "Sometimes she turns me down, sometimes she says yes," he said. "We don't get around to it." But in a People interview five years later, he acknowledged that tying the knot would likely never happen. While he and Huston had discussed marriage on multiple occasions, Nicholson conceded that it ultimately wasn't that important to him, arguing that the strength of a relationship was based on more than a mere ring.

Huston didn't quite feel the same. Per The Sunday Mirror, she never gave up hope that she would one day be Mrs. Jack Nicholson, right up to the end of their relationship. Sadly, this fairytale wedding never happened. Contrary to Nicholson's claims of constantly asking to put a ring on Huston, she wrote in her memoir, "Watch Me," that he laughed in her face when she suggested marriage. "Marry you?" Nicholson scoffed. "Are you kidding?"

Speaking to The Guardian, Huston admitted that she did want a life of idealized domesticity. "It was my original wish, before everything happened, that I would have a perfect romance and a lovely husband," she poignantly reflected. "I wanted to be like Jo March in Little Women. I wanted to be married to a man who would give me lots of sons."

The lovers lived in separate homes

By 1985, Anjelica Huston decided to move out of Jack Nicholson's pad and purchase her own home. But their love was as strong as ever. As noted in People, they called each other incessantly when apart. Huston moved into a pink house in Southern California, which The New York Times described as filled with "fans, angels amethyst and agate," as well as numerous pets. Nicholson, meanwhile, lived just a few miles away. Regarding her decision to live apart from her lover, Houston explained that it was necessary for her own progression. ”I had a good life living with Jack,” she said, ”but it was necessary to remove myself from the entourage a career like his engenders."

Speaking with Los Angeles Times, Huston revealed that moving out of Nicholson's home coincided with her decision to take acting more seriously. She had just been severely wounded in a car accident (her own mom, Enrica Soma, died aged 39 in a car crash) and developed a new lease of life thereafter. Accordingly, she told The New York Times that moving house was instrumental to her progression, as she struggled to cultivate a career whilst living with such a huge star.

In an interview with UPI, Huston admitted that her career anxieties were exacerbated by cohabiting with Nicholson, since he was the one for whom the phone would ring: "If you are an aspiring actor and you're living with a much more famous one ... You can feel a bit defeated by it."

Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston struggled to conceive

Anjelica Huston and Jack Nicholson desperately wanted children. Huston told The Guardian that tabloid gossip surrounding her pregnancy status was triggering; she compared herself to Jennifer Aniston, who is often at the center of speculation as to whether she's expecting or not. "It's extremely difficult to deal with, particularly if you're trying to get pregnant. Particularly if you're having IVF and it's failing," she said. "And then you have to read, 'Does she have a baby bump?' ... You get to be made to feel like a failure?"

He may have been unable to conceive with Huston, but Nicholson ended up fathering a love child with Rebecca Broussard, per The Sunday Mirror. One day, Nicholson invited Huston out for dinner, only to tell her that he was having a baby — with another woman. The pain of being unable to conceive while her boyfriend impregnated another woman was devastating for Huston. As she writes in "Watch Me," "The fact that Rebecca Broussard had become pregnant where I had failed made me feel inadequate and bitter."

Nicholson discussed the dilemma with Parade (via Huffington Post), explaining, "I was in a quandary. I knew having a child was a boon to my life, but I was in a wonderful relationship with Anjelica." Ultimately, however, Huston believes it was for the best that she and Nicholson didn't have children. As she told WENN (via Cinema), she struggles to leave her dogs behind when she goes to work, let alone potential children.

Jack Nicholson was a serial cheater

By Jack Nicholson's own admission, he is an unabashed womanizer. "I'm a scamp. I don't deny it ... I grew up in a beauty parlor my family ran, so I'm used to getting along with ladies. I prefer their com­pany," he confessed to Parade (via Huffington Post). Speaking with The Guardian, Huston revealed that she began to see her father in Nicholson. Her lover, like the Huston patriarch, had an eye for the ladies. Subsequently, Nicholson had many affairs, including with musicians Michelle Phillips and Joni Mitchell. Per CNN, Nicholson constantly had women competing for his attention. On one occasion, he actually left Huston hanging after a young woman at Cannes asked him to go on a motorbike ride with her.

Reflecting on this impasse in his relationship, Nicholson admitted that he didn't always treat Huston well. "I lived with Anjelica," he told Vanity Fair. "Of course I lied to her ... You only lie to two people in your life: your girlfriend and the police." However, he has since expressed remorse. Speaking with The Telegraph, he acknowledged that while his life is incredibly privileged, "no one could say I'm successful with affairs of the heart."

Per Stuff, Huston had affairs in retaliation. She embarked on a tryst with Ryan O'Neal, though he, too, harmed her. Ruminating on the behavior of men who mistreat women, Huston said that she ultimately pitied them. Subsequently, she returned to Nicholson, who, she conceded, probably had no choice but to accept her liaison.

Their romance was blighted by drug use

As Anjelica Huston revealed to The Guardian, she and Jack Nicholson drank and took drugs regularly. But she was miserable throughout it all. Speaking with Vulture, she confirmed rumors that Nicholson was a cocaine user, but claimed that he used it to combat lethargy. "I think Jack sort of used it, probably like Freud did, in a rather smart way ... At a certain age, a little bump would cheer him up. Like espresso," she suggested.

In her memoir, she revealed that she herself had a cocaine habit and was arrested for possession at Nicholson's home in 1977, along with pal Roman Polanski. That year would spell further trouble at Nicholson's house, which was frequently at the center of wild parties. This culminated in Polanski's rape of a 13-year-old girl in the actor's home. Huston said that she witnessed the "Rosemary's Baby" director hanging out with the teen at Nicholson's pad, but claimed that she didn't know the girl was underage. Regarding the horrific incident that occurred in the home of her lover, she told The Guardian that she didn't want to condemn Polanski since she still considers him a friend.

Since those party days of the '70s and '80s, she told Vanity Fair, "My idea of health and wellness used to be getting up at 11 o'clock in the morning, having breakfast, partying at night ... until about two." Now that those drug-fuelled days are behind her, the elegant septuagenarian much prefers slipping into bed before 10pm.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Sometimes their relationship got violent

Soon enough, Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston's Hollywood fairytale romance turned into something uglier than any romcom plot would permit. It has now emerged that Huston was violent towards her boyfriend. In her memoir, she admits to storming into Nicholson's office and beating him viciously. The outburst was precipitated by Huston reading a Playboy interview with a woman who apparently had an affair with Nicholson; she divulged details of their BDSM-infused sexual encounter, which infuriated Huston. "He was coming out of the bathroom when I attacked him," she wrote. "I don't think I kicked him, but I beat him savagely about the head and shoulders. He was ducking and bending, and I was going at him like a prizefighter."

Speaking to The Guardian, she justified her behavior by arguing that, as a woman, she could scarcely do much damage to Nicholson. Contrary to Huston's dismissal of these acts of violence, studies show that male victims of domestic violence are just as negatively impacted by abuse as female victims.

In an interview with Parade (via Huffington Post), Nicholson discussed Huston's violent history, revealing that she "beat the hell out of me" after discovering his affair with Rebecca Broussard. "She really beat me up, I tell you," he said. "Anjelica can punch!" Reflecting on her violent tendencies in a chat with Stuff, Huston said that she felt validated by Nicholson's submissiveness when she beat him, as if allowing his girlfriend to attack him was somehow an expression of deep remorse.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

She said she spent much of the time crying

Unfortunately, Jack Nicholson frequently lovebombed Anjelica Huston, then proceeded to continue with his mind games. This had a devastating effect on her. In her memoir, Huston revealed that Nicholson left her crying for three days when he dismissed her feelings towards tying the knot. "I spent a lot of time in tears and a lot of time crying when I was with Jack ... I always knew that I really wasn't the most important thing in Jack's life," she told Alec Baldwin on his "Here's the Thing" podcast.

The pair's differing career trajectories also caused Huston immense distress. Opening up to The New York Times, she admitted to being jealous of her beau's success. Thus, Nicholson got his pal, venerated director Mike Nichols, to give Huston a part. But she deemed the offer a handout as opposed to a reflection of her expertise as an actor. So while Nicholson thrived in films such as "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "The Shining," she was left fighting for substantial roles.

”He was being sent 25 scripts a day, and I wasn't receiving any," she told the outlet. Accordingly, she couldn't help but feel hopeless and dejected by Nicholson flourishing while she floundered. Nicholson, however, told Film Comment that he was thrilled at seeing his lover's career take off. But Huston has argued that this is untrue: Ultimately, she conceded, she had no role in the relationship "except to be on his arm," per The Guardian.

The break-up was hard on Jack Nicholson

By 1989, it was over for the Hollywood power couple. After nearly 20 years together, Anjelica Huston could no longer abide by Nicholson's treatment of her. As Huston recalls in her memoir, the breakup came over a romantic dinner, which soon turned sour after her beau told her about Rebecca Broussard's pregnancy. When Nicholson insisted that he didn't want his lover's pregnancy to change his relationship with Huston, she told him that would be impossible. "There's only room for one of us women in this picture, and I am going to retire from it," she recalls telling him. A few days later, and after a violent outburst, the relationship ended for good.

For Nicholson, the breakup was devastating. "I was annihilated emotionally — that was probably the toughest period of my life," he told The Telegraph, admitting, "I'm childish and I did make a mistake." Huston, meanwhile, struggled with seeing a photo of Nicholson and Broussard grinning on the cover of Life Magazine, as chronicled in her memoir. Eventually, though, she was able to reflect on the breakup with stoicism. "We say, 'Hello.' We don't hang out together, but it's fine," she later told UPI.

In an interview with Los Angeles Times, she suggested that a lack of communication was central to the disintegration of their romance, as the pair tended to dodge discussions of their problems. Speaking on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen," Huston also lamented that Nicholson never shared the same passion for her that she harbored for him.

She said she would have been miserable if they stayed together

Jack Nicholson thought his romance with Anjelica Huston would last forever. In 1986, he told Rolling Stone that he had no reason to believe he and Huston didn't have a happy future ahead of them. Anjelica's father, iconic film director John Huston, was in awe of the couple's longevity. "There is a rare devotion between them," he told People. "You see it in life and you feel it in their scenes together. Twelve years! That's longer than any of my five marriages lasted." But, like most good things, it had to come to an end.

On reflection, Huston conceded that her idealized image of a fairytale romance was just that: a fantasy. "I would probably have been miserable," she told The Guardian. "When I talk about my mother and not wanting to echo that relationship, I think it would've probably been very much the same way. I would have been a stay-at-home mom, and he'd have been off, doing what he did."

Per Stuff, Huston has numerous regrets about the relationship. In particular, she wishes that she'd confronted Nicholson about his affairs with more vigor — the occasional violent outburst aside — instead of letting things slide. But she felt that she would be reduced to a "moaning" woman if she constantly brought up his problematic behavior. "When you're in your twenties, you're made of expectations, and when they're shattered you don't know how to behave," she mused.

They were each other's greatest loves

Since their breakup, Jack Nicholson has had a bevy of women in his life, including model Kate Moss and "Boardwalk Empire" star Paz de la Huerta, both of whom are nearly half a century his junior. But none of his dalliances have lasted as long as his relationship with Huston. Back in 1980, Nicholson, by then an already established ladies' man, declared to People that Huston is undeniably the love of his life. Decades later, in 2008, Parade (via Huffington Post) noted that the "Addams Family" star remained his greatest love. The feeling is mutual for Huston, who also described Nicholson as the "love of my life," per The Telegraph. But Nicholson told the outlet that he believes his chances of ever finding a comparable love in his latter years are slim. "He's afraid of dying alone," a friend explained of the aging star.

Soon after the break-up, Huston met Robert Graham, who would become her husband of 16 years until his untimely death in 2008, per Vanity Fair. Despite this happy marriage, the shadow of Nicholson loomed large. "You still want to tame the beast ... I think women like to conquer hearts. Men like to conquer countries," she told The Guardian

Some time after she and Nicholson split, Huston received a gift in the mail one day: It was a pearl bracelet, along with a bittersweet note that read, "These pearls from your swine. With happiest wishes for the holidays — Enjoy — Yr Jack."