Nick Nolte was once a great sex symbol, but now he’s probably best known for playing tough-talking characters.
Yesterday, the wonderful actor turned 82 years old, and I have to tell that he hardly looks like the heartthrob he was in the 1970s.
To me, Nick Nolte is without a doubt one of the finest performers in the history of American cinema, and I have the utmost admiration for his extraordinary talent.
His strong, square jaw, angulus orbital bones and forehead, and free-flowing, out-of-control hair all give him the appearance of a powerful, almost barbarian figure from a Shakespeare play, which is something I find attractive.
The passion and pain in his eyes, combined with his range as an actor, make his work captivating. Nick consistently delivers authentic acting performances, and his resume shows that many of us value his abilities as an actor.
Actor Nick Nolte took home the Golden Globe for Best Performance in a Drama Film back in 1991. When he played the lead in The Prince of Tides back in 1991, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor.
Oscar consideration was also extended to Nolte for his stellar work in the films Affliction and Warrior. The Golden Globe-winning actor of yesterday is hardly recognisable today.
Much of his credibility was lost after the release of his notorious disheveled mug shot in 2002. His reputation took a hit due to legal issues and personal problems.
It’s impossible to imagine that Nolte, in the 1970s, was the definitive embodiment of the all-American hero archetype for a modern audience. The title of “Sexiest Man Alive” from People magazine was bestowed upon him.
How did Nick Nolte become to be so well-known?
First of all, Nolte’s football coach at Omaha claims that Nolte wasn’t a very good actor while he was a student there. Even though he was a gifted football player from an early age, he was also known as the “skinny, awkward youngster with a crew cut.”
Even Nolte admits that he was painfully timid as a child and struggled to find his place in groups. He had a difficult time in school and wasn’t properly diagnosed with dyslexia until much later.
Nolte, who was born in Omaha, Nebraska on February 8, 1941, received his big break in the television miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man (1976). A star on the rise, he quickly became an overnight sensation in the United States.
However, in the 1960s, he began a career as a model. During the 1972 “Summer Blonde” advertising campaign for Clairol hair dye, he and Sigourney Weaver posed for some of his most iconic photographs. In the eyes of the children of the ’80s, that commercial was the only time a man had ever graced the cover of a package of women’s hair dye.
Although he was a relative unknown when he was cast in Rich Man, Poor Man, Nolte proved to be a wonderful choice for the role of Rudy’s brother Tom. For his role as Jordache, he put forth the kind of heroic performance that could only come from an authentic American hero.
Nolte’s life was transformed by the show, as his portrayal of Tom, the archetypal bad boy, captivated and enchanted women. Nolte also had to invest much in his own physical well-being. Early in the production, when he played the lead role of a young guy, he weighed around 150 pounds.
”I remember the different stages I went through for Rich Man, Poor Man. That was the biggest expanse in age. It went from 16 to 45. Physically, I thought of the weight I was as a sophomore in high school, which was 150 pounds. So I dropped down to that weight and got that boy body back. I ran around that Hollywood reservoir day and night,” Nolte told Insider in 2022.
After the critical and commercial success of Poor Man, Nolte proceeded to prove that he was an exceptional actor by giving solid performances time and time again. After starring in the breakthrough action comedy 48 Hrs. in 1982, his career took off and he became one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
Nolte co-starred with Eddie Murphy in a groundbreaking film that changed the industry forever.
“The thing about 48 Hrs. that really isn’t thought about much is that’s the first film where the black and the white criticize each other,” Nolte said in 2011.
“After Civil Rights, it was very awkward for whites and blacks. We didn’t know how to talk to each other.”
Nolte’s career was at its height in the ’90s. He made millions of dollars and rose to the top of the acting world as a true A-lister.
His cinema and television work speak for themselves, but in the 2000s, the focus switched, and Nolte became associated with something else.
He was every bit as badass as everyone said he would be in the film industry. The erratic actor went through three divorces and was detained multiple times due to his own personal issues.
The three-time Oscar nominee went from being Hollywood’s “sexiest man alive” to becoming the subject of a viral photo taken by law enforcement that has now gone on to become iconic.
However, Nick has not used any drugs or alcohol since 2002.
”I was at a low point and I got slack,” Nolte has said.
“I drank in order to deal with anything I found difficult – relationships, failed projects – using alcohol even as a tonic against loneliness and the ironic kind of isolation that celebrity often brings.”
Nolte’s career in recent years has been limited to supporting roles, and he clearly does not resemble his Hollywood glory days.
The seasoned actor currently resides in a treehouse in Malibu, California. Nolte and his wife Clytie Lane reside in a home that they constructed themselves.
The Prince of Tides actor is a devoted family man who enjoys reading and hiking in his spare time. The Nolte children are Brawley Nolte (born in 1986) and Sophia Lane Nolte (born 2001).
Brawley and Sophia, his children, have both tried acting, and for a while it seemed as though they may follow in their famous father’s footsteps.
Sophia also co-starred with her dad in the film Honey in the Head, as Nolte’s granddaughter.
“She is kinda like this little grown-up. Sometimes she calls me Grandpa instead of Daddy because all of her friends’ fathers are young. I’m pushing 80. My son Brawley is in his 30s. He did some acting, but that’s not what he wanted. He’s studying to be a doctor,” Nolte told Saturday Evening Post.
A lot of time has passed, but Nolte’s sly grin, beautiful eyes, and endearing nature haven’t faded one bit. Now 82 years old, he still looks terrific and enjoys doing what he loves most: acting.
Furthermore, he appears to have a positive outlook on the process of aging itself.
”As for being old, I don’t regret it at all. I’m not having much difficulty with age. I’m really kind of comfortable with it, knowing that there’s one more big adventure to do. It’s kind of spooky, but I accept it. You fight like hell right up until the last. I think you just have to keep moving and keep doing it,” he says.
Nick Nolte is one of my favorite performers, yet he rarely gets much love when discussing the best men in the business.
Nick, we appreciate all the laughs and good times we’ve shared. You’ve got acting chops for days and are also quite the gentleman and a man of culture.
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