You’re only supposed to blow the bloody candles out

cockney actor Sir Michael Caine CBE (Maurice Micklewhite), was born 14th March, 1933 in Rotherhithe, Southwark in South East London 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 (now Wilson’s School in Wallington, South London), which he left at sixteen after gaining a School Certificate in six subjects. Caine’s acting career began at the age of 20 in Horsham, Sussex when he responded to an advertisement in The Stage for an assistant stage manager who would also perform small walk-on parts for the Horsham-based Westminster Repertory Company who were performed at the Carfax Electric Theatre. In July 1953 he was cast as the drunkard Hindley in the Company’s production of Wuthering Heights. He moved to the Lowestoft Repertory Company in Suffolk for a year when he was 22. It was here that he met his first wife. He has described the first nine years of his career as “really really brutal.” When his career took him to London after his provincial apprenticeship, his agent informed him that there was already a Michael Scott treading the boards in London 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”. (Humphrey Bogart was his “screen idol” and he would later play a part originally intended for Bogart in John Huston’s film “The Man Who Would Be King”. His big break came when he was cast as Meff in James Saunders’ Cockney comedy Next Time I’ll Sing To You and was visited backstage after one performance by Stanley Baker, his co-star in A Hill In Korea, who told him about the part of a Cockney corporal in his upcoming movie Zulu, which he was producing and starring in.

After dozens of minor TV roles, Caine finally entered the public eye as the upper class British Army officer Gonville Bromhead in Zulu. Caine’s agent also got him cast in the BBC production Hamlet at Elsinore (1964) as Horatio in support of Christopher Plummer’s Hamlet. Caine also starred in classic comedy crime caper The Italian Job alongside Noël Coward in 1969 and also as RAF fighter pilot Squadron Leader Canfield among the all-star cast of Battle of Britain. Caine then played the lead role in the British Gangster Film “Get Carter”. Caine then played opposite Sir Laurence Olivier in the film Slueth and his next film was The Man Who Would Be King (1975) co-starring Sean Connery and directed by John Huston. In 1976 he appeared in the screen adaptation 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 Pleasence. In 1978 he starred in The Silver Bears, an adaptation of Paul Erdman’s 1974 novel of the same name and was part of an all-star cast in the film “A Bridge Too Far” (1977).

He then moved to the United States, and appeared in the BAFTA Award-nominated The Magus (1968), the Academy Award-nominated The Swarm (1978) and Ashanti (1979), Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979), The Island (1980)and The Hand (1981). He also starred with his Sleuth co-star Laurence Olivier in The Jigsaw Man and had 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) . His next films were Little Voice, which won him a Golden Globe Award and The Cider House Rules (1999), which won him his second Oscar. In the 2000s, Caine appeared in Miss Congeniality, Last Orders, The Quiet American, for which he was Oscar-nominated. Several of Caine’s classic films have been remade, 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 as Austin Powers father in Goldmember and in 2003 he co-starred with Robert Duvall in Secondhand Lions. He also appeared in “Children of Men”, The Prestige, Flawless and “Is Anybody There?”.

in 2005, he was cast as Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred Pennyworth in Batman Begins, Directed by Christopher Nolan, while in 2008 he reprised his role as Alfred in Nolan’s critically acclaimed Batman sequel, The Dark Knight and in the The Dark Night Rises, alongside Christian Bale, Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway. 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. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1992 Queen’s Birthday Honours for his Contribution to Cinema, and in the 2000 New Year Honours he was knighted as Sir Maurice Micklewhite CBE. On 5 January 2011, he was made a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by France’s culture minister, Frédéric Mitterrand. In 2008, he was awarded the prize for Outstanding Contribution to Showbusiness at the Variety Club Awards and is one of only two actors nominated for an Academy Award for acting in every decade from the 1960s to 2000s, the other being Jack Nicholson.

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