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Date of Birth: 14/03/1933
Biography: Sir Michael Caine, CBE an English actor; was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite. He won Academy Awards for best supporting actor in both Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and The Cider House Rules (1999).
Caine is one of only two actors nominated for an Academy Award for acting (either lead or supporting) in every decade from the 1960s to 2000s (the other one being Jack Nicholson). In 2000, Caine was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his contribution to cinema.
Caine was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite in St Olave's Hospital, Rotherhithe, Southwark in South East London, the son of Ellen Frances Marie (nee Burchell), a cook and charlady, and Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, a fish market porter. His father was of part Irish and Irish Traveller ancestry and a Catholic, though Caine was brought up in his Protestant mother's religion.
Caine grew up in Camberwell, South London, and during the Second World War he was evacuated to North Runcton in Norfolk. After the war, when his father was demobilised, the family was rehoused by the council in Marshall Gardens at the Elephant and Castle in a pre-fabricated house made in Canada - much of London's housing stock had been damaged during The Blitz in 1940-41.
The prefabs, as they were known, were intended to be temporary homes while London was rebuilt, but we ended up living there for eighteen years and for us, after a cramped flat with an outside toilet, it was luxury.
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 in Camberwell, 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, stating: - 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 became an actor, he adopted the stage name "Michael Scott". His agent soon informed him, however, that Michael Scott 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 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.
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, strictly for the money, in numerous films he knew to be bad, 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 BAFTA Award-nominated The Magus (1968), the Academy Award-nominated The Swarm (1978), Ashanti (1979) (which he claimed were the worst three 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 critical-commercial flop Jaws: The Revenge (1987). Caine famously said 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.
Caine lives near Leatherhead, Surrey, and is patron to the Leatherhead Drama Festival. 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. Caine published a volume of memoirs, What's It All About? in 1992 and told BBC Radio in 2010 he was preparing another, especially for aspiring actors.
He was married to actress Patricia Haines from 1955 to 1958. They had a daughter, 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, Natasha Haleema.
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.
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?"
Caine is a fan of chill-out music and has compiled a mix CD called Cained, which was released in 2007 by UMTV.