Urban Legends

Jack Nicholson's grandfather Jack

The Legend

Jack Nicholson is his own grandfather.

Behind the Legend

Actor Jack Nicholson -- star of such films as Chinatown, The Shining, and Being Jack Nicholson -- is truly a Hollywood legend. His reputation for playing off-beat, twisted, over-intense characters began with his starring role as a minor character with almost no lines in Little Shop of Horrors and remains strong to this day. But even so, most of his devoted fans are unaware that Nicholson has a secret (discovered by Atlanta Times reporter Phil Harris) more bizarre than anything in his films.

Jack Nicholson is his own grandfather.

Here's how the situation arose. When he was in his late 20s, Jack Nicholson married 37-year-old Alicia Fay, a widow who had an 18-year-old daughter named Little Alice from a previous marriage. As luck would have it, Nicholson's new stepdaughter fell in love with his father, and the two were married a year later. Some six months after his father's wedding, Nicholson and Fay had their first child, a son they named Remley. Not long after that Nicholson's father and Little Alice had a son of their own, which they named Julius.

Digesting all of this, the situation is as follows:

  • Nicholson's daughter Little Alice is married to his father, so his father is also his son-in-law.
  • For the same reason, Little Alice is also his stepmother.
  • Nicholson's son Remley is his father's brother-in-law, because Nicholson's father is married to Remley's sister.
  • Because Little Alice is Nicholson's mother, her brother Remley is his uncle.
  • Remley is the son of Nicholson's daughter, so he's Nicholson's grandson.
  • Nicholson's wife Alice is the mother of Nicholson's father's wife, so she's Nicholson's grandmother.
  • Nicholson is married to his own grandmother, therefore he is his own grandfather.

For those who have difficulty following this, the below chart and table may be handy ("step" and "in-law" prefixes and suffixes have been removed for clarity).

Nicholson family tree


Relationship to Jack Nicholson

Jack Nicholson

Self, grandson

Alice Fay

Wife, grandmother, granddaughter

Jack Nicholson, Sr.

Father, son-in-law

Little Alice

Daughter, mother, great grandchild


Son, uncle, great grandchild


Brother, grandson

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