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Biography

Michael Caine

Maurice Micklewhite was born in 1933 to a childhood of poverty. His father worked as a fishmonger at Billingsgate Fish Market, a career that young Maurice was vehemently opposed to following himself. His mother worked as a char and later as a general cleaner to give her beloved sons, Michael and Stanley, everything she could.

Not long before his mother's death, Sir Michael found out that he had an older brother, David. His mother had given birth prior to her marriage and the baby had epilepsy which, in the 1920s, was thought to be an incurable form of madness. David had been placed in a home and his mother had secretly visited him every week.

Following his national service in Korea, the young Maurice Micklewhite tried his hand at various jobs, including being a bouncer in a brothel and a baker for Lyon's Tea Rooms, to support his acting career. He spent 10 years toiling away at his profession, touring in rep and essaying bit parts and walk-ons in British TV and film. It was during this period that he met, married and divorced one of his rep co-stars, Patricia Haines. Pat was older than Michael and she was smart enough to know that he was too restless to settle down at that point. Following the birth of their daughter, Nikki, she moved back in with her parents.

Building on his breakthrough supporting role in Zulu, he landed the starring role in Alfie (for which he won a Golden Globe and was Oscar- and BAFTA-nominated) and as agent Harry Palmer in a trilogy of spy films.

Following his divorce and with his new-found success, Caine became quite the playboy, finding himself at the centre of the Swinging London scene of the late 1960s. He once famously woke up to find a note he'd written to himself saying "Buy Rolls Royce", which he promptly set out to do (despite the fact that he didn't learn to drive until the 1980s). The staff at the showroom refused to speak to him due to his unkempt appearance. Some weeks later, he went to another dealer, bought the car for cash and was then chaffeur-driven past the first showroom, giving the salesman a well-known two-fingered hand gesture.

He first saw his second wife, Shakira, on the TV in his flat when she was a model in a Maxwell House coffee advert. Having tracked her down and pursued her, they were married two years later in Las Vegas, when Shakira was already pregnant with Caine's younger daughter, Natasha.

In the late 1970s, he relocated from Britain to Hollywood, where he mixed the critically acclaimed (Hannah and Her Sisters), with the truly awful (The Honorary Consul, The Island). Despite his great talent, he struggled to find decent roles in the late 1980s and early 1990s, appearing in a sequence of increasingly low-quality, mostly direct-to-video fare. (One noteable exception was 1997's Blood and Wine, in which Caine gives one of his finest performances.)

But it was his performance as optomistic loser, Ray Say, in Little Voice, which turned the corner and led to his late-career renaissance. The film was loved by critics and audiences, and he won another Golden Globe for his portrayal of Ray Say, saying in his acceptance speech that he'd "made a lot of crap" and "a lot of money", so that now he had the luxury to be able to sit back and choose the good roles.

Oscar-nominated as Best Actor for Alfie, Sleuth, Educating Rita and The Quiet American, he has won two Best Supporting Actor awards: for Hannah and Her Sisters and The Cider House Rules.

He was granted a Fellowship of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 2000 at a televised reception, and has won the Bafta for Best Actor for Educating Rita. He has 7 other nominations in acting categories and was nominated twice in the Best Actor category in 1984 (for The Honorary Consul and Educating Rita).

Now a restauranteur and budding novellist, as well as an actor and producer, Michael Caine divides his time between England, Miami and Los Angeles.


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