The two-time Oscar nominee rose to fame with a role in the hit 1970s miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man, while his 1980s buddy cop movie 48 Hrs. launched the big-screen career of his co-star Eddie Murphy.
An all-around renaissance man, Nolte has made a name for himself as an athlete, model and producer, and he's played a wide range of characters in more than 40 Hollywood movies.
To celebrate his big day, WENN has dug up 10 weird and wonderful facts about the star that may have passed you by:
- As a student at Eastern Arizona College, Nolte played on the basketball, football and baseball teams.
- One of his first jobs was working at the Falstaff Brewery in Omaha, Nebraska, which was once one of the largest breweries in America.
- In 1972, he bared his chest to pose in a campaign for a hair lightening product, sitting on a log alongside a blonde Sigourney Weaver.
- His Hollywood career nearly finished before it began when he was arrested for selling counterfeit documents and was given 45 years in jail. The sentence was later suspended.
- Nolte's conviction kept him from joining the military and serving in the Vietnam War, which he felt compelled to do as a young man.
- His first Academy Award nomination was in 1991 for his role in The Prince of Tides - but he lost to Anthony Hopkins for The Silence of the Lambs.
- The following year (92) he was given a boost when People Magazine named him their Sexiest Man Alive.
- His son Brawley Nolte is also an actor - he played Mel Gibson's kidnapped son in the 1996 thriller Ransom.
- He has been married and divorced three times, and been in high-profile relationships with actresses Vicki Lewis and Debra Winger.
- His 1998 drama Affliction garnered him his second Academy Award nod - but Italian actor Roberto Benigni scooped the prize for Life Is Beautiful.