Michael Caine wasn’t always “Michael Caine.” Maurice Joseph Micklewhite (that’s his real name…took me by surprise) was born March 14, 1933 to Ellen Frances Marie and Maurice Joseph Micklewhite. The family lived in Southwark, South London, but had to be evacuated during World War II to North Runction. When the war was over, he would end up living at the Elephant and Castle in Central London. In 1952, Caine was called up to do his national service, and would serve in the British Army’s Royal Fusiliers until 1954.
Caine didn’t begin acting until the age of 20 when he responded to an advertisement for an assistant stage manager with ‘walk-on parts’ for the Horsham-based Westminster Repertory Company. It is here where he adopted his first stage name, Michael Scott. When he turned 22, he would move to the Lowestoft Repertory Company in Suffolk, and later, he would re-locate again to London. It was here that his agent advised him to change his name again as there was already another Michael Scott performing in the area. Like any other person would do, Caine looked around for inspiration — and seeing that The Caine Mutiny was playing not far away, he decided to change his name to Michael Caine.
Caine didn’t get his big break until 1963 when he was cast as Meff in James Saunders’ comedy Next Time I’ll Sing To You. During one of the performances, Caine was visited backstage by Stanley Baker, a former co-star of his from the film, A Hill In Korea. Baker told Caine about the part of a Cockney corporal in the film Zulu. Although Caine didn’t get the part of the Cockney corporal (it had already been given to friend and fellow actor James Booth), Caine won the part of the snobbish, upper class officer, Lt. Gonville Bromhead. Zulu would be the film that brought Michael Caine international attention. After Zulu, Caine would be cast as the spy Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File, and then in the film Alfie as the womanizing title role. By this time, Caine was a bonafide film star. In 1966, Caine made his first film in the U.S., starring in Gambit with Shirley MacLaine.
Caine continued his successes into the 70’s, starring as the lead in the British gangster film Get Carter and then starring in the Joseph L. Mankiewicz mystery film Sleuth alongside Laurence Olivier. In 1975, Caine would co-star with Sean Connery in the John Huston film The Man Who Would Be King. By the end of the 70’s Caine moved to the United States. With this move, his choice of roles would begin to be criticised, and Caine himself admitted that, although he knew some of the films he chose would be bad, he took these parts strictly for the money.
Josh Kaye for Classic Movie Hub