Jennifer Aniston’s Mom: Everything To Know About Her Late Mother & Their Infamous Feud

The 'Friends' star and her mother had a notably tumultuous relationship throughout her life. Find out everything you need to know about Nancy Dow here.

Jennifer Aniston
View gallery
Image Credit: David Fisher/Shutterstock

It’s been almost six years since Jennifer Aniston‘s mom Nancy Dow passed away in May 2016. While the Friends star had a notably difficult relationship with her mom, Nancy was a very successful and famous woman in her own rite. Like Jennifer’s dad, Nancy was also in the entertainment industry and had two very famous husbands throughout her life. Find out everything you need to know about Nancy and her relationship with her daughter here.

What did Nancy Dow do? 

While she isn’t nearly as prolific as her daughter, Nancy and Jennifer have very similar backgrounds. The actress’s mom had been a model prior to beginning her career as an actress, but she didn’t have very many roles throughout her time in the spotlight. Her first acting job came in 1966, when she was about 30-years-old in an episode of the classic comedy The Beverly Hillbillies. She appeared in two more TV shows during the 1960s (The Wild Wild West and Mr. Terrific) as well as one movie, The Ice House. After Ice House, Nancy took a 35-year hiatus from the screen until 2004, when she appeared in her final movie role as Lynne in Pure, per IMDb.

Did she have other children?

Nancy had Jennifer from her second marriage to actor and soap opera star John Aniston, 88, but Nancy was married once before John. She wed jazz musician John T. “Jack” Melick Jr. from 1956 to 1961. The pair had a son John Melick III, 63, in 1959. Like his half-sister, John has gone on to a career in entertainment, albeit behind-the-scenes. He’s mostly been an assistant or second unit director on a wide-array of movies and TV shows. Some of the major movies he’s worked on included Universal Soldier, Piranha 3DD and Thirteen. He’s also teamed up with Jennifer on a few occasions, like in 2001’s Rock Star, where he was a production assistant, per his IMDb page.

Jennifer Aniston at the Screen Actor’s Guild awards in January 2020. (David Fisher/Shutterstock)

What happened to Jennifer Aniston’s mother?

Sadly, Nancy passed away in May 2016 at 79-years-old. Nancy had suffered from two separate strokes back to back. She had her first in 2011, followed by another in 2012, per People. While her cause of death was not made public, The Morning Show actress had shared that she’d been sick for some time when she died.

Jennifer released a statement after her mother’s death, mourning her loss. “It is with great sadness that my brother John and I announce the passing of our Mother Nancy Dow. She was 79 years old and passed peacefully surrounded by family and friends after enduring a long illness,” she told People at the time. “We ask that our family’s privacy be respected as we grieve our loss.” Despite Jennifer’s complicated relationship with her mom, a source told People at the time, that her loss was “heartbreaking” for the star, and the actress was “grateful” for the good times that the two had.

Why did Jennifer Aniston not talk to her mother?

While Jennifer seemed to reconcile towards the end of her mother’s life, the actress did have a publicly difficult relationship with her mom. While she said the two were “fine,” she did reflect on some of her upbringing with her mom during a 2015 interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “She was critical. She was very critical of me. Because she was a model, she was gorgeous, stunning. I wasn’t,” she said. “She was also very unforgiving. She would hold grudges that I just found so petty.”

The pair famously became estranged early on in Jennifer’s fame, when Nancy gave a tell-all interview to the tabloid show Hard Copy in 1996, and the pair’s relationship only worsened in 1999 when Nancy published the memoir From Mother and Daughter to Friends, via InTouch. After the actress divorced from Brad Pitt in 2005, she started to rekindle her relationship with her mom, according to an interview with ABC at the time. It sounded like the two were starting to get better. “It’s been really nice. It’s crazy what, you know, your life kind of being turned upside down will lead you to. … For us it’s … it was the time, and it was going to happen when it was supposed to happen. So this is good. It’s baby steps,” she  said at the time.

Despite their tumultuous relationship, Jennifer seemed to have gained more of an understanding of her mom after her death. She sympathized with Nancy and seemed to think that her behavior was influenced by her upbringing in a 2018 interview with Elle. “It wasn’t her trying to be a b***h or knowing she would be making some deep wounds that I would then spend a lot of money to undo. She did it because that was what she grew up with,” she said. “I think she was just holding on and doing the best she could, struggling financially and dealing with a husband who was no longer there. Being a single mom in the ’80s I’m sure was pretty crappy.”

More From Our Partners