Sir Michael Caine is the Bermondsey boy who became one of Britain’s best loved actors.
The acclaimed Hollywood star, who is retiring at the age of 90, has entertained decades of fans in movie classics ranging from Zulu, The Italian Job, Get Carter and Alfie, to more the recent Interstellar and the Dark Knight franchise.
He was born Maurice Micklewhite in 1933 to a fish porter, who worked at Billingsgate market, and as a cleaner.
Sir Michael is known for his pride in being a cockney, never losing his accent.
He earned his famous catchphrase “Not a lot of people know that” after the actor Peter Sellers used it once to impersonate him.
He attended Wilson’s Grammar School, near Camberwell Green, and went on to serve in Germany and Korea on national service before returning to London to fulfil his dream of an acting career.
His first brush with the stage came after he tripped and crashed through the door of a youth drama class while trying to get a better look at a girl he fancied, with the vicar then making him join due to a shortage of boys in the group.
After several theatre roles he changed his name, creating a new identity inspired by the film The Caine Mutiny.
His marriage to Patricia Haines in 1954, which produced a daughter Dominique, lasted just two and a half years.
Soon after that his father Maurice died.
His mother gave him £25 from the insurance money so that he could go to Paris to get escape.
He later admitted he was “close to a nervous breakdown” during his time there, when he did various odd-jobs.
Caine returned still haunted by the conviction that his father, who was against his acting career, died “knowing I was a bum” – but he was determined to succeed as an actor.
His first film role came in 1956 in A Hill In Korea with George Baker and Stanley Baker, but his big break followed in 1964 with the part of Lieutenant Bromhead in Zulu.
The actor was reportedly disliked by studio executives and vomited with nerves on seeing the rushes.
However, his celebrated performance was followed by a lead role in 1966’s Alfie, which catapulted him to super-stardom playing a womanising cockney wastrel.
Alfie also gave him his first Academy Award nomination and the New York Critics’ Prize for best actor.
By the time he was 30, he was a millionaire, and has gone on to appear in more than 160 films over a career that has spanned seven decades including The Wilby Conspiracy, The Man Who Would Be King, The Eagle Has Landed, California Suite and Dressed To Kill.
He married Shakira Bakshin, who was Miss Guyana in the 1967 Miss World contest, in Las Vegas in 1973, after spotting her in a Maxwell House coffee television advert and tracking her down. They have a daughter Natasha.
Sir Michael has credited Shakira – now Lady Caine – with making him a reformed character, saying she “calmed him down”.
He said in 2016: “Without her I would have been dead long ago. I would have probably drunk myself to death. I was a bit of a piss artist when I was younger, I used to drink a bottle of vodka a day and I was smoking too, several packs a day.”
In 1983, he was awarded the Bafta for best actor for his role in Educating Rita, followed four years later by his first Oscar for best supporting actor for Hannah And Her Sisters.
He moved back home to the UK in the 1980s after nine years in the US, saying: “I always knew I was welcome in America but I never felt I belonged. Here I know I belong and I don’t really care whether I am welcome or not.”
In 1992, he was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, before he received a knighthood in 2000.
That same year he earned his second Oscar for best supporting actor for The Cider House Rules and was given a Fellowship by Bafta.
His portrayal in Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed Batman trilogy of the beloved Alfred Pennyworth, the trusted butler and confidant to Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne, earned him a new generation of fans.
And he has become a familiar face in a number of Nolan’s other blockbuster cinematic projects, including sci-fi films Inception, Interstellar and Tenet.