Did Meryl Streep cheat on her husband with Jack Nicholson in the 1980s?


Have you ever since Heartburn with Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep? It’s a film based on Nora Ephron’s memoir-ish novel about her marriage to Carl Bernstein (of Woodward & Bernstein fame). It’s a great book and a great movie, and Meryl and Jack had amazing chemistry together. The film came out in 1986 – Meryl was already married to Don Gummer (who is still her husband – their marriage has lasted 35 years and they have four kids together). But did Meryl and Jack have some kind of torrid affair when they worked together? Maybe? That’s what a new Jack Nicholson biography seems to insinuate:

Jack Nicholson’s prowess with women is the stuff of legends. But a new biography of the Hollywood superstar alleges he bedded one of the most successful actresses of all time – Meryl Streep. Jack, now 76, starred with Meryl, 64, in two movies, Heartburn and Ironweed, and it was while on the set of the latter film that writer Mark Eliot claims the stars left Jack’s trailer shaking, writing: ‘Often during shooting, his Winnebago seemed to be balanced on four overworked Slinkys.’

The book also details his prolific drug use that nearly ended his career, his struggles with his weight – and how even friends called him a ‘better swordsman’ than that infamous lothario, Warren Beatty.

Jack and Meryl played feuding husband and wife in the 1986 movie Heartburn, written by the late scribe Nora Ephron and based on the true tale of her tempestuous marriage to journalist Carl Bernstein – which ended following his affair with Baroness Margaret Jay. Although it was claimed at the time that shooting ended up with Meryl throwing Jack out of her hotel room and vowing never to make another movie with him following his ‘relentless sexual overtures’ – a report she denied – the actors teamed up again on Ironweed in 1987.

The new book, Nicholson, relays the first meeting between the pair on the set of Heartburn in 1985. Eliot writes: ‘Jack met Streep the first day he was on set. (Mike) Nichols had wanted to keep some tension between them before the cameras rolled. According to Streep, ‘it was like meeting Mick Jagger or Bob Dylan. He was a big deal’. To break that tension, just before their first scene together, Nicholson knocked on Streep’s trailer door and asked if he could use her toilet. She said sure. End of tension.’

And Eliot writes a fling took place on set while Jack was still in an on-off romance with long-time lover Anjelica Huston – as well as allegedly sleeping with actress Veronica Cartwright.

The couple played a washed-up baseball player and his lover and drinking partner in the movie based on the Pulitzer-prize winning novel by William Kennedy, and Eliot says: ‘As soon as it began, rumours exploded like wild mushrooms that something was going on between Jack and his co-star, I’ll-never-work-with-him-again Meryl Streep. There had been talk that the two had grown unusually close, but both denied it. Jack was in a bit of a bind, as he was actively, if secretly, still seeing Cartwright. However, once filming began on Ironweed, everyone on set and those who heard about it, were talking not about the film’s script, or direction, or scenic design, but about Jack and Meryl. Often during shooting, his Winnebago seemed to be balanced on four overworked Slinkys. One unnamed source told Mitchell Fink, of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, that “whatever is going on inside that Winnebago it’s starting to get out of hand, to the point where it’s embarrassing a lot of people on the set”. The story appeared on April 22, 1987, Jack’s fiftieth birthday.’

And the actors’ affection for each other has never diminished as they remain close friends. Last year, Meryl, happily married to sculptor Don Gummer for the past 35 years, and a mother-of-four, picked Jack to ‘shag’ while appearing on Andy Cohen’s Bravo show, Watch What Happens Live. When asked who she would ‘shag, marry or kill’ – Meryl picked Robert Redford to ‘marry’, Jack to ‘shag’ and her Kramer vs Kramer co-star Dustin Hoffman to ‘kill’.

While when paying tribute to the five-time Oscar winner as she was awarded the AFI Life Achievement Award in April 2004, Jack called her ‘perfect’. Teasing her for her acting skills and deeming her to ‘transcend talent’, he stated: ‘To me you are perfect and I love you very much, God bless you and God bless America.’

At one point, the book claims that Jack was juggling Anjelica, 19-year-old Brit Karen Mayo-Chandler – who went on to pose in Playboy and brand him ‘that horny little devil’ – Veronica Cartwright – whom he met on the set of Goin’ South and then worked with on The Witches of Eastwick – the occasional Lakers cheerleader and ‘possibly’ Meryl.

[From The Mail]

I’m trying to figure out if I’m upset with the idea that Meryl Streep could have cheated on her husband. Is Jack Nicholson a “freebie” that most women would love to go to bed with? Maybe not so much these days (although I’m sure Jack does quite well for himself still), but back in the 1970s and 1980s, Jack was the hottest thing in Hollywood. He was catnip to women. He was like Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Benedict Cumberbatch and Eric Bana all rolled into one devilish shagger. I could possibly see how Meryl Streep would be like, “Alright, maybe.” Damn it, Meryl!

jack meryl


Photos courtesy of WENN, archive images from ‘Heartburn’.

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87 Responses to “Did Meryl Streep cheat on her husband with Jack Nicholson in the 1980s?”

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  1. Jules says:

    So what if she did? NIcholson was very hitable back then.

    • Sarah says:

      I hope you are as understand with your partner when something like that happens. (which i really dont wish anyone to go through)

    • Thinker says:

      I don’t think this happened… In Heartburn, the children in that film are played by Meryl and Don Gummer’s real kids. As Don is an artist with a flexible schedule, I would guess the whole family was present on set for the filming of Heartburn.

  2. Spooks says:

    I love Meryl, and don’t really care about this.
    Meryl and John Cazale had one of the saddest love stories in Hollywood.

    • NYC_girl says:

      I know that he died young after being ill and was highly regarded… but didn’t know they were together. I just read about it – so sad. “The Deer Hunter” is a heavy film.

    • Mayday says:

      So tragic,

    • Katherine says:

      I, too, admired Meryl for this but today she would be slammed for using it for PR and starting her affair with Don Gummer while John was still alive.

      It wasn’t quite the romantic thing people thought but she did help him through to the end.

  3. Snazzy says:

    I think this actually makes me like her even more ( I didn’t know it was possible)

    • Bert says:

      If the rumor is true, not saying it is, it shows she is human. We all do things in the heat of the moment. And I can see where Jack would have been a temptation back then.

  4. Eleonor says:

    I can’t believe I am writing this, but I see a certain resemblance between Maryl Streep back in the days and Katy Perry.

  5. Beatrice says:

    Who could blame her? He was irresistable. I would have rocked a Winnebago with him for sure!

  6. Axis2ClusterB says:

    I love this story.

  7. Beachy says:

    I thought it was common knowledge that Maryl got around quite a bit, with the ever so understanding husband. Best actress of our time though, and that’s what matters.

    • epiphany says:

      It’s pretty much common knowledge that Meryl sleeps with her male co-stars – she’s very discreet about it, and her husband probably knows, and he seems fine with it. Maybe he has his own side piece(s)?

    • Sarah says:

      Like its “common knowledge” that George Clooney is gay because someone on the internet thinks he is?

  8. DanaG says:

    I’ve never gotten the whole Jack Nicholson attraction maybe I would have to meet him. I doubt Meryls husband would be too thrilled about this. Jack wouldn’t care less I think it’s another reason I’ve never really liked him. I do enjoy him act but he is no George Clooney or Brad Pitt in the looks department and never has been.

    • Spooks says:

      My mother refuses to watch his movies because she thinks he’s so ugly she can’t look at him.
      I don’t find Brad or George that handsome either.

    • Myrto says:

      God, me neither. Jack Nicholson, young or old, has always looked sleazy and creepy to me.
      So to learn that he was the “Brad Pitt” of his time is quite unbelievable. It’s not merely his looks, he’s the fact that he just looks creepy.

      • Katherine says:

        Well, rest assured he was never thought of as the Brad Pitt of his time. Never. There will, however, always be women who like the skeevy, nasty boy. There were then as well.

    • Trashaddict says:

      It’s hard to think of him as attractive because of his association with Roman Polanski. I think they probably had pretty sleazy things going back in the day.

  9. Jen says:

    This is what someone managed to dig up about Meryl (for pre-Oscars tabloid bashing)? They had to go back to the 80’s to dig up some dirt? Hahahahahahahaha

  10. smee says:

    He may not have traditional “good looks”, but in his day, he was to die for. One of those guys whose brains, charm and talent makes up for his looks (that weren’t that bad). (I’m not talking about the burned out, old guy Jack is today)

    Wow – I do not like how Meryl looks as a brunette – blonde is her color!

    If it’s true, it’s kind of rude on Jack’s part, seeing as MS is still married to the same person……..

  11. blue marie says:

    I never knew Jack dated Anjelica. I would like to say I could work up a proper anger over this but it was years ago, and even if it did happen Meryl and her husband worked through it.

    • KC says:

      Anjelica is Jacks longest relationship. Hes called her the love of his life or something along those lines. IIRC she finally ditched him when he impregnated one of his randoms.

    • BW says:

      They were a couple for 16 years. Of course he also cheated on her for the entire time.

  12. bns says:

    Jack is 1000x more attractive than Brad Pitt or George Clooney.

  13. GeeMoney says:

    Who hasn’t slept with Jack Nicholson???

  14. Talie says:

    I’m not mad at it.

  15. bettyrose says:

    Ugh why can’t I reply to anyone? I hope it’s true. Their 1980s shag would’ve been epic.

  16. Elodie says:

    “Jack was the hottest thing in Hollywood. He was catnip to women. He was like Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Benedict Cumberbatch and Eric Bana all rolled into one devilish shagger”

    Now Kaiser… I know you are fond of the Cumberbatch but come on now… he is nowhere near the likes of sexiness the other actors cited may exude… oh well.

  17. Sarah says:

    You need headlines to sell books, thats why they run this. this is what its about selling stuff, if it harms a family with children. people dont care.

  18. Jayna says:

    Come on. Meryl was off on location for her whole career. She, like all the other stars, had at least one affair during a long-term marriage that probably had its ups and downs. I’ve never thought otherwise. Jack in his prime had animal magnetism and loved the ladies. He was a charmer and apparently great in bed, plus a great cheeky sense of humour.

    I love Heartburn.

  19. Amanda says:

    It’s pretty much a known fact in Hollywood that Meryl has slept with most of her male co stars. From Jack to Clint to even Ed Beagley jr. (yuck). Her and her husband have an open relationship. This is nothing new. People just dont make a big deal about it because she is Meryl.

  20. Dorothy#1 says:

    Heartburn is one of my favorite movies ever!! Plus it has an awesome sound track by Carly Simon. But I just can’t see her cheating with Jack during this movie, it is all about the heartbreak you feel when you are being cheated on. I can’t believe she could do such an emotionally charged film while doing the same thing to her husband. Maybe it’s because I love her too much 🙂

  21. Kate says:

    It’s interesting the way Meryl’s image has changed and been somewhat white washed over the past 15 years or so, mostly because it’s not her pushing it, it’s us who want her to be this untouchable, perfect Queen of Hollywood.

    She was always hugely respected and well liked, obviously, but their was plenty of gossip too. Casting couch stuff when she was started out, some minor drug stuff, lot’s and lot’s of affairs with her co-stars and directors…the usual really. She wasn’t sitting around twiddling her thumbs while all her peers had crazy fun. It’s funny how all that stuff just disappears for some celebrities, and others will carry it around with them forever.

    • sarah says:

      Oh I had never heard about the drug stuff. interesting. what were those rumors?

      • Apples says:

        Oh, I can absolutely imagine Meryl hanging with a bunch of friends smoking pot, drinking wine, and laughing her head off. She is very funny herself, and also loves to be entertained and laugh.

      • Bert says:

        I agree, I can see some pot and drinking. In a lot of her interviews she seemed like the type of person that would enjoy life. Does that make me respect her as an actress any less? No. She unlike the actresses today, is as private as possible with her personal life.

  22. Nicolette says:

    I could totally see this happening. He had that devilish, bad boy way about him, kind of like the character he played in “Witches of Eastwick”. He probably charmed the pants off many actresses in his heyday.

  23. Dawn says:

    That was a long time ago now and so if she did cheat with Jack I am sure that it was not the first time nor the last time she had a fling with her leading man. People love her in the industry or so I have heard anyway. She is supposedly lots of fun, very bawdy and just all around cool. So no judgement from me!

  24. j.eyre says:

    I miss Nora Ephron *sigh*

  25. Kelly says:

    Ooo she saucy, me likes

  26. Walice says:

    I enjoyed Heartburn, but Ironweed was brilliant, too bad it was such a sad story. I don’t believe the gossip in any book, it makes me laugh, just suppose it did happen – Meryl is the only women on this planet who IS his equal, I would bet they spent most of their off screen time together laughing. He is a brilliant actor.

    The JUGGLER then played The JOKER…..

    • Bert says:

      Putting something Juicy about the reigning Queen of Hollywood in any book will launch it into a best seller. And I will take that statement to the bank.

  27. lucy2 says:

    I’ve heard about this before. Whatever happened, Meryl and her husband are still by all accounts happily married, so who knows.

  28. eliza says:

    So what? This is between her and her husband. If it happened it happend years ago and they got through it, why is this person dragging it up now? Someone is thirsty for their 15min.

  29. aang says:

    I hope not. He is and always has been creepy.

  30. Sarah says:

    Why the surprise? Isn’t it well-known that Meryl shags a lot of her co-stars?

    • Katherine says:

      Yes. it is well known. At least by those of us old enough to have been aware.

      Jack Nicholson was NEVER considered the Brad Pitt of his day. Where did that idea come from? He had his fans who thought he was sexy but he was always considered more counter culture and a “dirty boy”. Meryl didn’t exactly always have great taste in men. Jack was always sleezy. But Meryl has always been considered quite the player. As much as I admired her for taking care of John C. while he was dying, Meryl had already begun her affair with Don Gummer before John died.

      As for drugs well EVERYONE did drugs back in the day. Do you think a Hollywood actress with access to money and drugs and an artist’s life didn’t? People not around then have no idea what it was like. No one thought it was unusual or wrong either – except J Edgar Hoover and parents. That’s an idea that was drummed into the minds of younger generations.

      More interesting to me is Meryl’s affair with Eastwood during Bridges of Madison County when they were older. I must admit THAT would have tempted me.

      The hypocrisy with Meryl is annoying when I see younger women slut-shamed for much less by other women. Pointing to her long marriage makes no difference – if anything it makes it worse if you’re inclined to judge. Don as an ever struggling sculptor was never going to leave a wealthy and famous film star and the life style and security she provided. His job was also the primary care giver whose artist job made it easier for her to be away from home. Personally I think it’s no one’s business who you sleep with and as I got older and I matured enough I stopped judging anyone based on their sex life. I’ve learned it tells you very little about a person in the end.

  31. poppy says:

    i think many actors need a lot of attention so it is never surprising to hear they cheat a bit. who said actors will sleep with anyone? some director? can’t remember.
    i guess i’m one of those “places on pedestal” people that thinks certain actors would never just because, c’mon, JN has a really creepy crawly dirty dong. i thought she’d be too smart to float him. i realize it was the 70s (even worse because it would have been the 80s) but how many dirty dong stories does it take to repulse someone like MS? i don’t think his proclivities were secret at all.
    am i the only one that thinks a man doesn’t HAVE to sleep with hundreds of women and if so, it makes them very unattractive/disgusting?

  32. Side-Eye says:

    I don’t understand why people suddenly think cheating is cute and fun, just because Meryl Streep did it?,

    • eliza says:

      Oh, I think just the opposite. As someone who was cheated on by a longtime partner, there is nothing cute about cheating at all.

      My point kind of was whatever she did years ago, isn’t relevant now. She and her husband obviously have an understanding that I suppose works for them. Until reading some posts on here, I was unaware of all the talk about Streep and her infidelities. I am not gaga over Streep like most people are. She is a good, solid actress but not the be-all, end-all of the screen as some see her.

    • mimi says:

      I agree. Why does Meryl Streep get a free pass for cheating while married with small children? I actually see people high five-ing her and cheering her on in their comments. Why no public slut shaming or passionate outcries of disgust “once a cheater, always a cheater” and branding her with a giant Scarlet A? Back in July 2012, unmarried 22 year old Kristen Stewart received death threats and endured endless ridicule and scorn for getting caught kissing her married director. Meryl cheats on her husband with a co-star and receives praise and admiration. So in other words, if you’re an older, beloved, Oscar winning actress like Streep, you’ll be celebrated for cheating on your husband.

      Good to know. *eye roll*

      • Myrto says:

        Why? Because people who judge celebrities for cheating (without even knowing the whole story) are ridiculous perhaps? Because projecting your own issues onto celebrities is pathetic, maybe? Because slut-shaming is wrong no matter at whom it’s directed? I don’t know, just a few guesses.

      • chloe says:

        I agree with you Mimi, you go on any Brad, Angie or Jen thread (I’m using them as an example because there was a thread on them just yesterday) and posters are constantly pointing out all of the cheating that did or did not go on for all three involved, but Meryl cheats on her husband 20 odd years ago and she get’s a pass. To be honest no one really knows what really happened unless all the people involved come clean (or photos/video pop-up), if not it’s just one person heresay. If I was Meryl the next time I saw old Jack he would get a piece of my mind. To be honest if you are looking for moral high ground I would suggest looking somewhere besides Hollywood or our Government leaders.

  33. Used☩oBeLulu says:

    He wishes.

  34. NeuroJo says:

    Didn’t everyone cheat on their husband with Jack Nicholson in the 80’s?!

  35. Virgilia Coriolanus says:

    I’ve never heard any rumors of Meryl sleeping with her costars, ever.

    Who knows if it’s true, if it isn’t?

    All I know is that she is always gracious and kind to all of her peers and those working the crew, etc. I’ve never heard a bad story about her being snobby to anyone. In the end, that’s all that really matters.

  36. Maggie says:

    All of Hollywood cheats! Why the surprise?

  37. John says:

    I’m loving the fact that Nicholson was involved with Veronica Cartwright. She was a wonderful child actress.

  38. Sam says:

    This depresses me, is there anyone in Hollywood who has some emblance of ethics or somewhat of a moral centre?! Sincere question is there anyone who is good?!

  39. pirategirl says:

    I love reading about old gossip about stars from the 80s and 90s. Stars back then were so much more interesting and talented then nowadays. Loved Jack in Witches of Eastwick.

  40. Kim1 says:

    Hollywood is no different than Middle America millions of Americans have affairs, use drugs, get divorced etc.I just attended my high school reunion half of my classmates have been divorced and 10% have been divorced more than once.I live in Tx in the Bible Belt.Think about your co workers, neighbors, relatives, etc how many of them have used drugs, had affairs, had more than marriage, had a child out of wedlock, etc

  41. betsy says:

    Did anyone read the article about Cumberbatch and Meryl staying up late watching the election in her hotel room after the others had all gone to bed when they were filming August Osage County. Cumberbatch mentioned they talked politics and about acting techniques. Meryl’s daughter is dating one of his best friends now – Patrick Kennedy who he went to school with and who appeared in War Horse and Parades End with him.

  42. anon33 says:

    The first movie I ever saw Jack in was The Shining, so there was no way I would ever find him sexy!!!

  43. ParisPucker says:

    As if Meryl couldn’t get any cooler! He was THE catch back in the day…really hoping this was true!

  44. shellybean says:

    Well, to paraphrase something Meryl said in an interview in the last few years “I get to play wonderful women who inspire adoration, and people tend to confuse me with them.” I love Meryl. If she cheated that’s her business. She’s human and not a perfectly moral movie character.