One of the most outrageous actors in modern cinema, Jack Nicholson, has enjoyed a storied life but on and off the movie set. The One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest star was notorious for his libido as well as his thirst for narcotics and booze. He was the archetypal Hollywood hellraiser and still operates as a curiosity os a by-gone era today. It seems his wild antics have touched many people’s lives, including, it seems, royalty too.
Nicholson has never been afraid of discussing his penchant for drugs. Still, one moment would almost cost the Hollywood star his neck as, when introduced to British royalty, Nicholson allegedly offered Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth’s sister, some cocaine.
The A-lister has always managed to the toe the line between graceful and disgraceful. His ability to be entirely open about his relationships both with the women and drugs has given him a Buddhist Zen-like glow. It’s enchanting, if not a little repulsive. The actor even once enjoyed a boat trip about which he was open about his drug use with his children.
Telling People Magazine: “Last year on a raft trip I had a little flavour of the season—peach mescaline—but it was not like the hallucinatory state of the ’60s. This was just kind of sunny. I don’t advocate anything for anybody. But I choose always to be candid because I don’t like the closet atmosphere of drugging.
“In other words, it ain’t no big thing. You can wreck yourself with it, but Christ, you can wreck yourself with anything.”
It’s these kinds of comments that lead you to believe there aren’t many Jack Nicholson stories that you’re shocked by nowadays and certainly none that don’t have at least a degree of truth to them, no matter how outlandish they may seem. Stories of the great actor’s off-set antics have been swirling around Hollywood for decades. But while drunken escapades and sexual acts on the hood of a car are by the by, one “classic Jack” moment could have seen the Oscar winner in serious trouble.
In Brian Kellow’s biography of Sue Mengers, a widely regarded behemoth of the Hollywood agent industry, Kellow describes a scene in which Mengers is hosting a lavish party in her Beverly Hills home back in 1979. During that time Queen Elizabeth’s sister, Princess Margaret, was frequented Los Angeles and had been invited to the party.
Nicholson was at the party with his longtime girlfriend Anjelica Houston when he was introduced to Her Royal Highness. There’s a lot of protocol that goes into meeting a royal, when to bow, when to curtsy, how to address them properly, without causing offence. Instead, Jack Nicholson allegedly offered her a bump of cocaine “in a bid to get to know her better,” which, in the seventies, wasn’t too far from a commonality.
Naturally, Princess Margaret declined the invitation and moved on. Mengers was reportedly furious with Nicholson for this unforgivable indiscretion. Though it was almost certainly a joke from the actor, in the super agent’s eyes it had ruined her chances of ever being invited to Buckingham Palace. However, Princess Margaret was not deterred.
Instead, she moved through the party with consummate ease apparently not moved by Nicholson’s joke. The Princess even stayed for most of the party, sharing drinks and frolics with Farrah Fawcett, Sean Connery, Robin Williams, and more until the early morning. Apparently, she even danced repeatedly with Saturday Night Fever and Grease star John Travolta.
That may well have been most of the party’s attendees’ lasting memory, of Danny Zuko dancing with a Royal. But our thoughts turn to a sniggering Jack Nicholson, likely still reeling from his joke and already looking forward to re-telling it.