Sir Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, Jr., CBE (born March 14th, 1933), known professionally as Michael Caine, is a two-time Academy Award-winning English film actor.
Caine was born in Rotherhithe, South East London, to Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, Sr., a fish market porter, and Ellen Frances Marie (née Burchell), a cook and charlady. Caine's father was Catholic, though Caine was raised in his Protestant mother's religion. He grew up in Camberwell, attending Wilson's School (at that time Wilson's Grammar School) and during World War II was evacuated to North Runcton in Norfolk. In 1944 he passed his eleven-plus exam. He left school at sixteen after gaining four O-Levels and did his National Service from April 1952 to 1954 in the Royal Fusiliers, serving in Germany and in combat in the Korean War.
When Caine first became an actor, he adopted the stage name "Michael Scott". His agent soon informed him, however, that another actor was already using the same name, and that he had to come up with a new name immediately. Speaking to his agent from a telephone box in Leicester Square in London, Caine 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". He once joked to an interviewer that had he looked the other way, he would have ended up as "Michael One Hundred and One Dalmatians".
Caine's acting career began in Horsham, West Sussex. He responded to an advertisement for an assistant stage manager for the Horsham-based Westminster Repertory Company. This led to walk-on roles at the Carfax Theatre. After several minor roles, Caine came into the public eye as an upper-class British army officer in the 1964 film "Zulu". This proved paradoxical, as Caine was to become notable for using a regional accent, rather than the received pronunciation hitherto considered proper for film actors. At the time, Caine's working-class cockney, just as with The Beatles' Liverpudlian accents, stood out to American and British audiences alike. Zulu was closely followed by two of his best-known roles: the spy Harry Palmer in "The Ipcress File" (1965), and the woman-chasing title character in "Alfie" (1966). He went on to play Palmer in a further two films, "Funeral in Berlin" (1966) and "Billion-Dollar Brain" (1967). Caine made his first movie in the United States in 1966, after an invitation from Shirley MacLaine to play opposite her in "Gambit". During the first two weeks, whilst staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel, he met long term friends John Wayne and agent "Swifty" Lazar.
After ending the 1960s with the equally iconic "The Italian Job", with Noel Coward, and a solid role as an RAF fighter pilot, Squadron Leader Canfield, in the all-star cast of "Battle of Britain" (1969), Caine entered the 1970s with "Get Carter", a British gangster film. Caine was busy throughout the 1970s, with successes including "Sleuth" (1972), opposite Sir Laurence Olivier and "The Man Who Would Be King" (1975), co-starring Sean Connery. By the end of the decade, he had moved to the U.S.A.
In 1983 he starred in "Educating Rita" and was awarded a BAFTA for his role. He was also awarded an Oscar for his performance in "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986).
His performance in 1998's "Little Voice" won him a Golden Globe Award. During the late 1990’s and early 2000’s his films included "The Cider House Rules" (1999), for which he won his second Oscar, "Last Orders" (2001), "The Quiet American" (2002) and others. Several of Caine's classic films have been remade to appeal to new, younger audiences, including "The Italian Job", "Get Carter", and "Alfie". In 2005, he was cast as Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred in the Batman film series. In 2006, he appeared in the films "Children of Men" and "The Prestige". Caine was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1993 for services to drama, and in 2000 he was knighted, becoming Sir Maurice Micklewhite. Unlike many actors who adopt their stage name for everyday use, Caine still uses his real name when he is not working.
Caine is one of only two actors to be nominated for an Academy Award for acting (either lead or supporting) in every decade since the 1960s. The other is Jack Nicholson.