Caine in 2008
|Born||Maurice Joseph Micklewhite
14 March 1933
London, England, United Kingdom
|Spouse(s)||Patricia Haines (1955–1962) (divorced) 1 child
Shakira Baksh (1973–present) 1 child
Sir Michael Caine, CBE (born Maurice Micklewhite on 14 March 1933) is an English film actor. Caine has appeared in more than 100 films and is one of only two actors to have been nominated for an Academy Award for acting (leading or supporting) in every decade since the 1960s (Jack Nicholson being the other).
He became known for several notable critically acclaimed performances, particularly in films such as Zulu (1964); The Ipcress File (1965) and others as Harry Palmer; the womanising title character in Alfie (1966); The Italian Job (1969); The Battle Of Britain (1969); Get Carter (1971); The Man Who Would Be King (1975); Educating Rita (1983); an Academy Award–winning performance for supporting actor in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and The Cider House Rules (1999); as Nigel Powers in the parody Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002); and more recently as Alfred Pennyworth, the butler from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
Caine was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite in Rotherhithe, South East London, the son of Ellen Frances Marie (née Burchell), a cook and charlady, and Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, a fish market porter. Micklewhite's father was of part Romani (Gypsy) ancestry and a Catholic, though the younger Micklewhite was brought up in his Protestant mother's religion, but claims to be lapsed religiously.
He grew up in Camberwell, London, and during the Second World War he was evacuated to North Runcton, in Norfolk. In 1944 he passed his eleven plus exam, winning a scholarship to Hackney Downs Grocers School. After a year there he moved to Wilson's Grammar School (now Wilson's School) in Wallington, South London, which he left at sixteen after gaining a School Certificate in six subjects. He then worked briefly as a filing clerk and messenger for a film company in Victoria Street and the film producer Jay Lewis in Wardour Street. From 1952, when he was called up to do his National Service, until 1954, he served in the British Army's Royal Fusiliers, first at the BAOR HQ in Iserlohn, Germany and then on active service during the Korean War. Caine has said he would like to see the return of National Service to help combat youth violence saying "I'm just saying, put them in the Army for six months. You're there to learn how to defend your country. You belong to the country. Then when you come out, you have a sense of belonging rather than a sense of violence."
When Micklewhite first became an actor, he adopted the stage name "Michael Scott". His agent soon informed him, however, that another actor was already using the same name, and that he had to come up with a new name immediately. Speaking to his agent from a telephone box in Leicester Square, London, he looked around for inspiration, noted that The Caine Mutiny was being shown at the Odeon Cinema, and decided to change his name to "Michael Caine". He has joked in interviews that had he looked the other way, he would have ended up as "Michael One Hundred and One Dalmatians".
Caine's acting career began in Horsham, Sussex. He responded to an advertisement for an assistant stage manager for the Horsham-based Westminster Repertory Company. This led to walk-on roles at the Carfax Theatre. After dozens of minor TV roles, Caine entered the public eye as the upper class British Army officer Gonville Bromhead VC in the 1964 film Zulu. This proved paradoxical, as Caine was to become notable for using a regional accent, rather than the Received Pronunciation hitherto considered proper for film actors. At the time, Caine's working class Cockney, just as with The Beatles' Liverpudlian accents, stood out to American and British audiences alike. Zulu was closely followed by two of his best-known roles: the spy Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File (1965), and the womanising title character in Alfie (1966). He went on to play Palmer in a further four films, Funeral in Berlin (1966), Billion Dollar Brain (1967), Bullet to Beijing (1995) and Midnight in Saint Petersburg (1995). Caine made his first film in the United States in 1966, after an invitation from Shirley MacLaine to play opposite her in Gambit. During the first two weeks, whilst staying at The Beverly Hills Hotel, he met long term friends John Wayne and agent "Swifty" Lazar.
After working on The Italian Job, with Noël Coward, and a solid role as an RAF fighter pilot, Squadron Leader Canfield, in the all-star cast of Battle of Britain (both 1969), Caine played the lead in Get Carter (1971), a British gangster film. Caine was busy with successes including Sleuth (1972), opposite Laurence Olivier and The Man Who Would Be King (1975), co-starring Sean Connery and directed by John Huston). In 1976, he appeared in the screen adaptation by Tom Mankiewicz of the Jack Higgins novel, The Eagle Has Landed, as Oberst (Colonel) Kurt Steiner, the commander of a Luftwaffe paratroop brigade disguised as Polish paratroopers, whose mission was to kidnap or kill the then-British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, alongside co-stars Donald Sutherland, Robert Duvall, Jenny Agutter and Donald Pleasance. Subsequently, in 1978, he starred in The Silver Bears, an adaptation of Paul Erdman's (1974) novel of the same name. Caine also was part of an all-star cast in A Bridge Too Far (1977).
By the end of the decade, he had moved to the United States, but his choice of roles was often criticised — he admitted to and has since made many self-deprecating comments about taking parts in numerous films he knew to be bad strictly for the money, despite working with Hollywood's highly regarded directors such as Irwin Allen, Richard Fleischer, Michael Ritchie and Oliver Stone. Caine was averaging two films a year, but these included such failures as the Academy Award-nominated The Swarm (1978), Ashanti (1979) (which he claimed were the worst two films of all the other worst films he ever made), Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979), The Island (1980), The Hand (1981) and a reunion with his Sleuth co-star Laurence Olivier in The Jigsaw Man (1982). Although Caine also took better roles, including a BAFTA-winning turn in Educating Rita (1983), and an Oscar-winning one in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and a Golden Globe-nominated one in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), he continued to appear in notorious duds like the financially-successful-but-critical-failure Jaws: The Revenge (1987) (in which he had mixed feelings about the production and the final cut) and Bullseye! (1990); his appearing in so many films which did not meet with critical or box office acclaim made him the butt of numerous jokes on the subject. Of the former, Caine famously said (primarily about Jaws: The Revenge) "I have never seen the film, but by all accounts it was terrible. However I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific." All these film failures later became cult films among his fans today. His other successful films (either critically and/or financially) were the 1978 Academy Award-winning California Suite, the 1980 Golden Globe-nominated slasher film Dressed to Kill, the 1981 war film Escape to Victory, the 1982 film Deathtrap, and the 1986 Academy Award-nominated Mona Lisa.
The 1990s were a lean time for Caine, as he found good parts harder to come by. A high point came when he played Ebenezer Scrooge in the critically-acclaimed Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), which he considers to be one of his most memorable roles. He played the beleaguered stage director Lloyd Dallas in the film adaptation of Noises Off (1992). He also played a villain in the Steven Seagal flop On Deadly Ground (1994). He was in two straight to video Harry Palmer sequels and a few television movies. However, Caine's reputation as a pop icon was still intact, thanks to his roles in films such as The Italian Job and Get Carter. His performance in 1998's Little Voice was seen as something of a return to form, and won him a Golden Globe Award.
Better parts followed, including The Cider House Rules (1999), for which he won his second Oscar, Last Orders (2001), The Quiet American (2002) and others which helped rehabilitate his reputation. Several of Caine's classic films have been remade to appeal to new, younger audiences, including The Italian Job, Get Carter, Alfie and Sleuth. In the 2007 remake of Sleuth, Caine took over the role Laurence Olivier played in the 1972 version and Jude Law played Caine's original role. Caine also starred in Austin Powers: Goldmember (2002) as Austin's father. In 2005, he was cast as Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred Pennyworth in the first production of the new Batman film series. In 2006, he appeared in the films Children of Men and The Prestige. In 2007 he appeared in Flawless, while in 2008 he reprised his role as Alfred in Christopher Nolan's critically acclaimed Batman sequel, The Dark Knight as well as starring in the British drama Is Anybody There?, which explores the final days of life.
It was reported by Empire magazine that Caine had said that Harry Brown (released on 13 November 2009) would be his last lead role. Caine later declared (in the Daily Mirror) that he had been misquoted by the magazine.
Caine has been Oscar-nominated six times, winning his first Academy Award for the 1986 film Hannah and Her Sisters, and his second in 1999 for The Cider House Rules, in both cases as a supporting actor. Caine is one of only two actors to be nominated for an Academy Award for acting (either lead or supporting) in every decade since the 1960s. The other is Jack Nicholson. The two actors starred together in the 1996 movie Blood and Wine.
Caine is a popular subject for impressionists and mimics, having a voice and manner of speaking that are distinctive, yet fairly easy to imitate. Most Caine impressions include the catchphrase "Not a lot of people know that." Peter Sellers initiated this when he appeared on BBC1's Parkinson show on 28 October 1972 and said:
|“||Not many people know that. This is my Michael Caine impression. You see, Mike's always quoting from the Guinness Book of Records. At the drop of a hat he'll trot one out. 'Did you know that it takes a man in a tweed suit five and a half seconds to fall from the top of Big Ben to the ground?' Now there's not many people who know that!||”|
In 1983, Caine was given the line to say as an in-joke in the film Educating Rita. The line was parodied in Harry Enfield's Television Programme by Paul Whitehouse, who introduced himself with the line "My name is Michael Paine, and I am a nosey neighbour." On 16 December 2007, Caine was the second guest on Michael Parkinson's Final Conversation.
Caine lives near Leatherhead, Surrey, and is patron to the Leatherhead Drama Festival. He has also lived in North Stoke, Oxfordshire, Clewer near Windsor, Berkshire, Lowestoft in Suffolk and Chelsea Harbour in London. In addition, Caine owns a unit at The Apogee in Miami Beach, Florida. He still keeps a small flat near where he grew up in South East London.
He was married to actress Patricia Haines from 1955 to 1958. They had one daughter named Dominique. He dated Bianca Jagger in 1968. Caine has been married to actress and model Shakira Baksh since 8 January 1973. They met after Caine saw her appearing in a Maxwell House coffee commercial and a friend gave him her telephone number. They have a daughter named Natasha.
Some time after his mother died, Caine and his younger brother, Stanley, learned they had an elder half-brother, named David. He suffered from severe epilepsy and had been kept in Cane Hill Mental Hospital his entire life. Although their mother regularly visited her first son in the hospital, even her husband did not know the child existed. David died in 1992.
Trivia books written by Caine include Not Many People Know That!, And Not Many People Know This Either!, Michael Caine's Moving Picture Show and Not A Lot of People Know This is 1988. Proceeds from the books went to the National Playing Fields Association (now Fields In Trust) of which Caine was a prominent supporter.
Unlike many actors who adopt their stage name for everyday use, Caine still uses his real name when he is not working.
Caine has been open about his political views. He left Britain in the 1970s, citing the 82% tax levied on top earners by the Labour government of the time, but returned to Britain several years later when taxes were lowered:
“I decided not to become a tax exile, so I stayed in Britain, but they kept putting the tax up, so I’d do any old thing every now and then to pay the tax, that was my tax exile money. I realised that’s not a socialist country, it’s a communist country without a dictator, so I left and I was never going to come back. Maggie Thatcher came in and put the taxes back down and in the end, you know, you don’t mind paying tax. What am I going to do? Not pay tax and drive around in a Rolls Royce, with cripples begging on the street like you see in some countries?”
In 2009, Caine openly criticised the Labour government's proposed new 50% tax on top earners:
“The Government has taken tax up to 50 per cent and if it goes to 51 I will be back in America. They have reached their limit with me and that's what will happen to a lot of people. You know how much they made out of that high taxation all those years ago? Nothing. But they sent a mass of incredible brains to America. We've got 3.5 million layabouts laying about on benefits, and I'm 76, getting up at 6am to go to work to keep them. Let's get everybody back to work so we can save a couple of billion and cut tax, not keep sticking it on.”
“You're saying to poor people, 'let's tax those rich gits' and I understand that. You slice up the cake, give everyone a chance, but don't destroy the people that are making the bloody cake! I really believe about taking care of people, I don't mind paying tax. It's how the government spends my tax that I detest, really detest, because I see the waste. More money than all our income tax is spent on benefits. Now you tell me there is nothing wrong with that system.”
Caine also revealed in 2009 that he was likely to vote for the Conservatives again:
“I'll probably vote Conservative. I mean, we're in a terrible state whichever way you look at it, socially, financially and politically, so just give the other guy a chance. I don't know what Cameron's going to do, but in the end you vote out of desperation. You just have to have someone new and see what happens.”
Caine is a fan of chillout music and has compiled a mix CD called Cained, which was released in 2007 by UMTV. According to Michael Caine, he met with Elton John, and was discussing musical tastes, when Caine claimed that he had been creating chillout mix tapes as an amateur for years. Also in music, Caine provided vocal samples for British band Madness for their 1984 hit "Michael Caine" as his daughter was a fan. He has sung in movie roles as well, including for the musical movie, The Muppet Christmas Carol.
Maurice Joseph Micklewhite|
14 March 1933
|Height||6' 2" (1.88 m)|
Patricia Haines (1955-1958)|
Shakira Caine (1973-present)
Maurice Micklewhite (deceased)|
Ellen (née Burchell, deceased)
Stanley Caine (brother)|
David Burchell (half-brother, deceased)