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Why Anjelica Huston Stopped Putting Up With Jack Nicholson's Cheating

She knew he was having affairs, but one serious scandal was her last straw.

More than three decades have passed since Hollywood heavyweights Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston were a couple, but the two Oscar winners were together for more than 16 years across the '70s and '80s. Although Nicholson has described the relationship as being "as good as it gets," Huston told a different story, recounting in her 2014 memoir Watch Me how his notorious womanizing plagued the relationship. While she knowingly put up with it for a time, one affair led to Huston finally breaking up with Nicholson for good. Read on to find out more.

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They met when she was 21 and he was 36.

Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston in 1974
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The daughter of director, screenwriter, and actor John Huston, Anjelica Huston was a successful model in Europe prior to moving to California in 1973 to pursue acting. It was there that the 21-year-old attended a party at Nicholson's Mulholland Drive home. Despite a 15-year age gap, the two connected immediately, dancing the night away before spending the night together. Huston moved into the house during the filming of Chinatown not long after their meeting, but her frustration with her status as Nicholson's girlfriend mounted as she grew older. "There was no role, except to be on his arm," she told The Guardian in 2014.

After a serious car accident in 1980 that required her nose to be reconstructed with cartilage from her ear, Huston left Nicholson's house to live on her own for the first time, although the two carried on their relationship, as she recounted in her memoir. She also doubled down on her pursuit of acting and in 1986, won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Prizzi's Honor, which was directed by her father and co-starred Nicholson.

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She said marriage only came up to save on taxes.

Anjelica Huston and Jack Nicholson in 1975
Tom Wargacki/WireImage

Although the Oscar-winning duo stayed together until the end of the '80s and even tried to conceive a child, they never married. Huston wrote in her memoir that she wanted to wed Nicholson at times, even telling him, "If you had any balls, you'd marry me." His reply? "Marry you? Are you kidding?"

Huston recalled one proposal coming from Nicholson's business manager and lawyer. Speculating that it was to secure the actor a tax benefit, she wrote that she found the prospect "strictly unromantic."

He had a wandering eye.

Jack Nicholson in 1977
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Seven years into their relationship, the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest actor told People that their romantic success was due to what he called Huston's "flexibility"—specifically with monogamy. Despite her own highly public departure from their relationship during a 1976 affair with Ryan O'Neal, she found Nicholson's liaisons troubling, going to her father early in the relationship depressed over his infidelity. (The elder Huston told his daughter it meant nothing and she shouldn't care, she wrote in her book.)

Huston remembered finding other women's belongings at the house of the "world-class philanderer" but also noted that Nicholson was "actually quite discreet" given the scope of his infidelity.

A big announcement finally ended things.

Jack Nicholson in 1989
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The turning point came while Huston was rehearsing for The Grifters in 1989 and Nicholson summoned her to dinner to deliver a stunning announcement.

"Someone is gonna have a baby," he told her, according to her memoir. That someone was Rebecca Broussard, an actor who played the secretary of his character in The Two Jakes, a film he was also directing. The blow was especially hard for Huston, who had consulted doctors about fertility problems and found "a child was not to be" due to endometriosis. Although Nicholson said he didn't "want nothin' to change," Huston ended their relationship on the spot.

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She chased him down and attacked him.

Anjelica Huston in 1988
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Days later, Huston read a story in Playboy about another woman's encounter with Nicholson involving the risqué use of a ping-pong paddle. Enraged, she tracked him down at work and attacked him as he was coming out of the bathroom.

"I don't think I kicked him, but I beat him savagely about the head and shoulders," she wrote. "He was ducking and bending, and I was going at him like a prizefighter, raining a vast array of direct punches." While that marked their last blow-up, Huston also wrote that she received a gift from the actor that Christmas—a bracelet that Frank Sinatra had given Ava Gardner, with the note "These pearls from your swine. With happiest wishes for the holidays—Enjoy—Yr Jack."

Nicholson went on to father a second child with Broussard and would later publicly pair up with several other women including Lara Flynn Boyle. Meanwhile, Houston married sculptor Bob Graham in 1992, and they stayed together until his death from kidney failure in 2008.

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Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller is a pop culture writer living in New York. Read more
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