What Jack Nicholson Did Before He Became A Famous Actor

It's tough to make it in Hollywood. With thousands of hopeful actors, directors, and screenwriters flocking to Los Angeles with dreams of making it big in movies or television, many are left to grind out day jobs while using their precious, scarce free time to work on their scripts, reels, and audition tapes. Some of the biggest names in cinema had humble beginnings but few are as strange as iconic actor Jack Nicholson's first Hollywood job.

Before making his name in film, Nicholson started his career in animation ... somewhat. According to Ranker, Nicholson was hired in 1955 by MGM as an office assistant for their animation department, largely made up by the legendary Hanna-Barbera studio. Nicholson, who would go on to become the most-nominated male actor in Oscar history worked as a runner, assisting the office with low-level tasks and bringing supplies and documents to and fro, providing two years of hard work up until the animation department was gutted in 1957.

Nicholson turned down a career in animation

According to NME, young Jack Nicholson showed promise to his superiors at MGM but not for the reasons he would later become famous for. Nicholson had befriended many of the animators and displayed talent as an artist, and was offered a promotion to become an animator at Hanna-Barbera, the studio behind "The Flintstones," "Scooby-Doo," "Yogi Bear," and many more classic cartoons that defined the mid-20th century. Nicholson turned down the offer, as he wanted to focus on his acting career, a move that can hardly be argued against today.

Nicholson became the second-most nominated actor in Oscar history behind Meryl Streep, and the only man besides Michael Caine to get a nod in every decade from the '60s to the '00s, with iconic lead roles in "The Shining," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," and a memorable stint as The Joker in Tim Burton's take on "Batman." Perhaps he could have had a successful career in animation but the legendary actor made the right call in turning down a promotion nearly 70 years ago.