RespectYourElders: Sir Michael Caine CBE, 87, is an English actor, producer and author. One of the highest-grossing actors of all time, he’s been in over 130 films in an over 60-year career.
Caine was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite in London, to a house cleaner and a fish market porter. He grew up in South London, but his family evacuated to Norfolk during WWII. He dreamed of becoming an actor but enlisted in the army in 1951.
Micklewhite served in the Queen’s Royal Regiment and the Royal Fusiliers. He spent time in Germany and was on active duty during the Korean War. Caine faced several near-death experiences and was on the front lines for much of his time in the war until 1954 when he returned to England.
At 21, Micklewhite worked at several repertory theatres not far from London. He met his future wife, Patricia Haines, in Sussex. At this point, he had adopted a new stage name: Michael Scott. He and his wife soon moved to London where Caine learned that another actor used his same stage name. Upon seeing “The Caine Mutiny” playing at a theatre in London, he decided he’d go by Michael Caine.
The new and improved Michael Caine did not find the immediate success in acting he had hoped for. He struggled to find work and his marriage faced challenges. He spent time working at a steelyard to make ends meet and also worked at a snack bar in Paris. Eventually, he returned home and started to see some acting success.
By the 1960s, people recognized Caine’s acting skills. Notably, his roles as an army officer in “Zulu,” a working-class spy in “The Ipcress File,” and the ladies’ man in “Alfie,” propelled his career to stardom. For a period, Caine relentlessly appeared in film after film, sacrificing his social life, but finally seeing financial security. At the age of 35, he was able to buy his first car, even though he couldn’t drive. Caine hired a chauffeur.
Caine found continued success with acting in the 1970s, and although his first marriage had failed, his second one seemed to have worked out. He spotted a woman named Shakira Baksh in a Maxwell House commercial directed by Ridley Scott and decided she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Caine found out that she lived in London, asked her to dinner, and by 1973, they were married with a child, Natasha.
Finally, Caine had hit his stride. He has acted in dozens of movies throughout his career and 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 is Jack Nicholson. Caine is most recently known for his appearances in Christopher Nolan films including the Batman series, “Inception,” “The Prestige,” and “Interstellar.” He has also authored several best-selling books.
Caine was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), and he was knighted in 2000. Now, at the age of 87, he isn’t doing as many movies as he used to, but he still feels the pull of the silver screen.
“My own mentality is that I’ve retired. They send me these scripts and if I absolutely have to do it, then I go to work,” Caine said.