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2 September 2014
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Michael Caine by Lewis Morley
© Lewis Morley Archive / National Portrait Gallery, London

Biography: Sir Michael Caine

Born Maurice Micklewhite in Rotherhithe in 1933 to a fishmonger and a charwoman, Sir Michael Caine is the original working class boy done good.

Caine has enjoyed incredible career longevity. He’s scooped two Oscars and been nominated for six. With films such as The Ipcress File, Alfie, The Italian Job and Get Carter he’s helped transform British cinema.

Best not mention his role in Jaws 4 for which he famously declared "I have never seen the film, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house it built and it is terrific."

Most Renowned For

As Alfie, Caine immortalised the character of the womanising rogue. Oozing Cool Britannia long before it became a tabloid buzz word, Alfie simultaneously captured the dark side of London’s swinging 60s.

Cultural Impact

Before Caine, the typical British movie hero was a RADA educated thespian. After Caine, cockney ruled. With his low key, deadpan acting style and wide-boy quips to camera, he set a precedent for dozens to follow.

As well as being one of the most successful British actors of his generation, his famous catchphrase - "You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off" - is also frequently imitated.

In His Words

"I had to read in magazines that I was an icon. You don't go around saying, 'I'm an icon', but suddenly you are."

Pub Quiz Trivia

He has a huge cult following amongst musicians and even appeared as himself on the hit Madness song Michael Caine in 1984.
Phil Cornwell
Michael Caine introduced to the world a new kind of Britishness. He was a kind of everyman. He wasn’t some actor playing a working class guy; he was a working class guy. And now, at 73, he’s a revered elder statesman of the movies.

Phil Cornwell


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