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Jack Nicholson on TV: How His Star Power Went Beyond the Big Screen

Image: Jack Nicholson on TV: How His Star Power Went Beyond the Big Screen
Actor Jack Nicholson gives a greeting to the press corp covering the Dec. 3, 2003 New York premiere of "Something's Gotta Give." (Ezio Petersen/UPI/Landov)

By    |   Tuesday, 24 Mar 2015 08:09 PM

Jack Nicholson is a legendary film star, but the actor has turned up in some of the unlikeliest places on TV — even in retrospect. Here's a sampling of the TV appearances made by Jack Nicholson.

Unsurprisingly, his television roles were limited to his early career, when the actor was taking any part available in order to sustain an acting career. “In the years leading up to ‘Easy Rider,’ Jack was just another two-bit actor pinballing between roles as WWII grunts, bikers, and cowpokes,” The Concourse said. Though once he became the star he is today, Nicholson focused his efforts exclusively on the film industry.


His early acting credits included playing guest roles on crime procedurals such as “Hawaiian Eye,” “Dr. Kildare,” and “Mr. Lucky.” He also appeared briefly in Westerns such as the “Tales of Wells Fargo” and “Bronco,” as well the American anthology drama series “The Barbara Stanwick Show.”

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Nicholson popped up in a few TV specials as well, including the career retrospective of actor-director Michael Landon, “Michael Landon: Memories with Laughter and Love,” and several documentary features such as “An American Reunion: New Beginnings, Renewed Hope,” and “America: A Tribute to Heroes.”

Well known for dramatic acting, Nicholson’s turn on the beloved 1960’s sitcom “The Andy Griffith Show” ranks as a bit of surprise. He appeared in two different episodes, once as Marvin Jenkins, a man on trial “accused of breaking and entering and stealing a TV from a local store” and again as Mr. Garland, who accidentally left his child behind on the steps of a local courthouse.

His comedic appearances don’t end there, as he also shows up on two separate “Saturday Night Live” anniversary specials, one commemorating its 25 years on air while also recently delivering a brief monologue congratulating the show on its 40th season. Nicholson, however, has never actually hosted an episode of "SNL."

His only other comedic performance of note for television is “Little Amy,” a 1962 TV movie, which chronicled the story of a young boy who desperately wanted to get on his school’s football team and impress the coach, played by Nicholson.

Here’s another trick the skilled performer has up his sleeve — voice-over acting. In the 1980’s, he narrated several animated children’s specials. These specials include, "How the Camel Got His Hump,” "How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin," "Celebrate Storytelling with Danny Glover” and “The Elephant’s Child,” which earned him a Grammy.

He’s also appeared as a presenter or participant on a host of TV award ceremonies, including the Grammy’s, Golden Globes, and Academy Awards, where he played Gandalf the wizard from “The Lord of The Rings” in an opening gag.

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Jack Nicholson is a legendary film star, but the actor has turned up in some of the unlikeliest places on TV — even in retrospect. Here's a sampling of the TV appearances made by Jack Nicholson.
jack nicholson, tv, star, power
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2015-09-24
Tuesday, 24 Mar 2015 08:09 PM
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