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A Brief Profile of Michael Caine

A Brief Profile of Michael Caine

The Early Life of Michael Caine

Michael Caine was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite (Junior) on 14 March 1933 in London, England. His father, also Maurice Joseph, was a fish market porter, and his mother Ellen, was a cook and cleaner. Caine had two siblings, an elder maternal half-brother David, and a younger brother Stanley. He grew up in Southwark, London, but during WW2 he was evacuated to North Runcton near King’s Lynn, Norfolk. After the war, the family was rehoused at a brand new housing development at Elephant and Castle. He left school at 15 taking up a number of menial jobs before a two-year stint of National Service starting in 1952.

Caine first served in West Germany and later saw active service during the Korean War. On his return to England, he took a job as an assistant stage manager and walk-on actor in Horsham, Sussex. He then adopted the stage name, Michael Caine, taking it from an advertising hoarding for the 1954 film ‘The Caine Mutiny’. In the next 10 years, he appeared in multiple TV dramas and a few low-budget films, as well as making stage performances.

Acting Career

It wasn’t until 1964 that Caine got his big break in the highly successful film ‘Zulu’. He played an army officer in the film that depicted the epic Battle of Rorke’s Drift (1879) in South Africa. This initial screen success was quickly followed up with even greater recognition when he was lauded for his role of Harry Palmer in ‘The Ipcress File’ (1965). Critical acclaim in the title role of the film ‘Alfie’ a year later managed to cement Caine’s meteoric rise to the very top of British cinema.

Michael-caine-trailer - Vintage movie public domain poster

Caine in the film poster for Zulu (1964). Image credit: PDM 1.0


Since the mid-1960s Caine has appeared in nearly 70 films, which have covered almost every movie genre. He has been awarded two Oscars for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the films, Hannah and Her Sisters and The Cider House Rules. Michael also received four Oscar nominations for Best Actor for his performance in Alfie, Sleuth, Educating Rita, and The Quiet American. He has also lifted a number of other eminent awards, that includes BAFTAs and the Golden Globes. Stand-out movies in which he starred over the last 50 years include The Italian Job (1969), Get Carter (1971), Sleuth (1972), and Harry Brown (2009).

It is no great secret that not all Caine’s films have been well received. In fact, Caine has a reputation for not taking the acting profession too seriously. One of the shockers in which he starred was the fourth and final film in the Jaws franchise, Jaws: The Revenge (1987). Caine’s typical sardonic comment was “I have never seen the film, but by all accounts it was terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it’s terrific.”

……And Not a Lot of People Know That!

Caine’s trademark horn-rim glasses and distinctive cockney accent have made him a dream target for impersonators and mimics over the years. The often-quoted line ”…and not a lot of people know that!” is the one inevitably used by all impersonators of Caine. However, what a lot of people don’t know is that Caine never ever actually used the turn of phrase.

It was fellow actor and friend Peter Sellars who used the words while doing an impression of Caine on the BBC’s Parkinson chat show in 1972. Sellars purported that Caine had a fascination with the Guinness Book of Records. He supposedly would often quote little-known facts from its pages finishing his sentence with the now-famous phrase. He has been associated with the line ever since, reportedly much to his annoyance.

Michael Caine Personal Life and Retirement

Caine’s first marriage was to actress Patricia Haines whom he wed in 1954. Their liaison produced one daughter, Dominique, who was born in 1956.  However, the couple parted ways eight years later in 1962. The actor married his second wife, former Miss Guyana, and actress Shakira Baksh, in 1972. Their only child, Natasha, was born the following year. The couple remained married to this day (March 2022).

Michael Caine and wife

Caine with wife Shakira in 2015. Image credit: tinseltown/Shutterstock.com

In October 2021, in an interview on BBC radio promoting the 2021 film ‘Best Sellers’, Caine hinted that the film might well be his last. He cited mobility issues and his newfound love of writing as the main reasons. However, a few days later Caine enigmatically tweeted out to his followers ”I haven’t retired and not a lot of people know that.”


Header image credit: Flickr/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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