CAINE, MICHAEL (b. 1933). Born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite in the charity wing of St. Olave's hospital in south London, Michael Caine changed his acting name from Micklewhite to Caine after noticing a poster for the film The Caine Mutiny while talking to his agent in a phone box. He was born into a workingclass family, left school at sixteen, and worked in a number of jobs until he was called up for national service, where he served with the Royal Fusiliers in Korea. Caine gained employment as assistant stage manager at the Horsham Repertory Company in Sussex before moving to the Lowestoft Repertory company in Suffolk, where he married Patricia Raines. From 1956 to 1962, Caine appeared in minor, often unbilled, film roles, small parts on television, and repertory theater before his theatrical break as the understudy to Peter O'Toole* in the hit play The Long and the Short and the Tall for its London season. He eventually replaced O'Toole and remained with the production when it moved to the provincial theaters.
His film break came when director Cy Endfield,* believing that Caine's “horsy” face was typical of the English aristocrat, disregarded his cockney background and speech and cast him as Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead in the story of British heroism at Rorke's Drift in South Africa in Zulu* (1964). He followed this with the equally successful secret agent Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File (1965), a character he reprised in Funeral in Berlin (1966), followed by less successful films based on the same character in The Billion Dollar Brain (1967), Bullet to Beijing (1995), and Midnight in St. Petersburg (1997). After The Ipcress File, Caine became an international star with Alfie* (1966), the cheeky, self-absorbed womanizer for which he was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award.
Alfie defined Caine's screen person for many years although there were sporadic attempts to break away from this image, most notably as the ruthless southern landowner in the melodrama Hurry Sundown (1967). Audiences, however, preferred Caine in comedy and throughout the late 1960s and into the 1970s he