"Both were drawn to show business; Michael as a way to please his father, Jack as a way to escape his working-class invisible prison," reveals bestselling celebrity biographer Marc Eliot.
The two subjects of my latest biographies have some surprising similarities and some sharp differences. Michael came from royalty, literally and figuratively. His mother was descended from the founders of Bermuda, and his father was cinematic great Kirk Douglas.
Jack came from working class people in Southern New Jersey. Both were drawn to show business; Michael as a way to please his father, Jack as a way to escape his working-class invisible prison.
Michael had a difficult time living up to the legend of his father; Jack was never really sure for the longest time (and still is not) who is father actually was. Michael made his name in television (Streets of San Francisco), Jack always hated, and still hates television and refuses to appear on it (except in old movies).
What brought them together?
When Kirk, who owned the rights to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, found – after ten years of trying – that he was too old to play McMurty, the role he originated on Broadway, he gave the project over to Michael.
And who did Michael cast in his father’s place? Jack Nicholson.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest won Oscars for Best Picture: Michael, as producer, with Saul Zaentz, and Jack for Best Actor, along with several other Academy Awards.
They found each other through the movies.
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About the Author
MARC ELIOT is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books on popular culture, among them the highly acclaimed biographies Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart, the award-winning Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince, Down 42nd Street, Take It from Me (with Erin Brockovich), Down Thunder Road: The Making of Bruce Springsteen, To the Limit: The Untold Story of the Eagles, Death of a Rebel, and American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood. He has written on the media and popular culture for numerous publications, including Penthouse, L.A. Weekly, and California Magazine. He divides his time among New York City, Woodstock, New York, and Los Angeles.