Jack Nicholson: Jack the Lad still has a twinkle in his eye
Former Hollywood hellraiser Jack Nicholson says that he is yearning for one last romance - and that's pure woman bait
Actor and legendary bon (et mal) vivant, Jack Nicholson, has shocked fans worldwide with his latest pronouncement: not the usual testament to a life rather too well lived, but a longing for attachment.
"I would love that one last romance," the hoary old renegade confessed to a US magazine. "But I'm not very realistic about it happening. What I can't deny is my yearning."
Instead of the customary sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, the legendary Hollywood hellraiser, now 77, admitted to sleeping (alone) until 1pm and then settling his stomach with a glass of milk. Reinforcing the image of frailty and solitude, a friend added that Nicholson harbours a fear of dying alone in his mansion in the Hollywood Hills.
Tell me it ain't true! This not wanting to die alone feels akin to a lifelong atheist crying out to God on his deathbed. Has the 'Great Seducer' (the epithet was Rolling Stone magazine's) finally been slain? I, for one, am not fooled.
On the contrary, it sounds typical Jack: wise, witty, winningly self-deprecating and calculated to make headlines and generate female sympathy - a sign, above all, that's he's still got it. For what he says about wanting "one last romance" is pure woman bait, whether in print, or growled into the ear in that lusty, gravel-and-molasses drawl.
And truth be told, the soon-to-be octogenarian doesn't look too different from 40-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio: as goatily hirsute with a matching hedonist's paunch. Jennifer Lawrence certainly looked enchanted when Nicholson hit on her at the 2013 Oscars, telling the American Hustle actress - some five decades his junior - that she reminded him of an ex and that "he'd be waiting".
Following the encounter, he sent flowers, a bottle of Cristal, and a note declaring cheekily: "Missing you already," Lawrence revealed, adding: "Not to brag." As the old rogue himself once said: "If you think you're attractive, you're always attractive."
Moreover, if age has failed to tame him, it may just have made him a better human being. In 2011, he said: "If men are honest, everything they do and everywhere they go is for a chance to see women. There were points in my life where I felt oddly irresistible to women. I'm not in that state now and that makes me sad.
"But I also believe that a lot of the improvements in my character have come through ageing and the diminishing of powers. It's all a balancing act; you just have to get used to the ride."
And what a ride it's been. Here was the original Jack the Lad and well into his pensionable years, but still a resplendent lover, drinker, drug-taker and party animal, bragging: "I've dated all the women, I've done all the drugs and I've drunk every drink."
He shot to fame in Dennis Hopper's cult road movie Easy Rider (1969). During one scene, he was obliged to smoke 155 joints and take LSD with Hopper, waking to discover himself in a tree.
The late Robin Williams used to joke that Nicholson was the only man in existence to whom Keith Richards was wont to say: "I have to go home now, Jack."
In Nicholson's own words: "I've woken up in trees, I've woken up almost hanging off cliffs, but I've always known how to sort myself out."
Women have always been his greatest fix. Born in New York, he was raised by his grandmother, whom he believed was his mother. He only discovered that his older sister June was, in fact, his mother, years after both had died.
He recalled: "I was raised entirely by women. My grandmother ran a beauty parlour and I spent most of my time there. She taught me manners and I learnt how to be around women, what women liked. I am insanely well-mannered and polite, and because of that I have nothing but gratitude for my upbringing."
Despite these protestations, ex-girlfriend Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas believed that this subterfuge regarding his origins hit Nicholson hard.
Hard and below the belt, perhaps, there being something of a love/hate relationship in his amassing sexual scalps (over 2,000 if the tall tales are to be believed - "Hell, I don't count.")
In addition to the winsome Phillips, his lovers have included beauties such as model and Playboy Playmate of the Month Bebe Buell and actresses Rebecca Broussard and Lara Flynn Boyle. The latter relationship began when he was 62, she 33 years his junior. She ditched him when she found jewellery intended for someone else in his luggage.
This was a man who began his affair with Margaret Trudeau, in his chauffeur-driven car, prompting the former first lady of Canada to remark: "I discovered how much room there is in the back of a Daimler."
Kim Basinger, star of 9½ Weeks star referred to him as "the most highly sexed individual I have ever met".
Another Playboy model, Karen Mayo-Chandler, revealed that he consumed peanut butter and jam sandwiches between the sheets "to keep his strength up". He himself has noted: "I only take Viagra when I'm with more than one woman."
He boasts five children courtesy of four different mothers: Jennifer from his only marriage, to actress Sandra Knight; Caleb, son of actress Susan Anspach; Honey, the daughter of model Winnie Hollman; and Lorraine and Ray from that relationship with Broussard.
This last fathering incident ended his most enduring relationship, the 16-year romance with model and actress Anjelica Huston. When he broke the news - "Someone is gonna have a baby" - Huston attacked him physically.
Speaking recently, she recalled with affectionate exasperation: "You still want to tame the beast. And the fact that you haven't tamed him yet - I'm talking about the metaphorical beast . . ."
She may have been speaking figuratively, but the beast was also real. For his part, Nicholson claims Huston broke his heart, despite the fact that he cheated on her: "The reality was that I was annihilated emotionally by the separation from Anjelica. That was probably the toughest period of my life."
They would still appear to love each other - he presented her with a birthday gift long after their separation: a pearl-and-diamond bracelet that Frank Sinatra had once presented to the great love of his life, Ava Gardner.
With it was a note: "These pearls from your swine. With happiest wishes for the holidays. Enjoy - Yr Jack."
"I was totally charmed," Huston confessed. "Totally charmed and furious, all of it. His signing, 'Your Jack', was the one thing he never was. But that's the nature of a charmer - to make you think you've made tracks.
"Charm is the worst. And you can't deny it, and you can't pretend that it's not there and it's not happening. It's a dangerous element, charm."
Meryl Streep once called Nicholson a "loveable old wreck". Like the Devil, whom he portrayed with leering -and yet winning - conviction in The Witches of Eastwick, 'Jumper Jack' will continue to have all the best tunes. And, without doubt, he probably will still get the girl. Watch that space.