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The Elephant to Hollywood

Michael Caine

I don't ski but I have worked really hard at developing my apres ski style and that is what Aspen is all about.

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A journalist asked me which character was most like me - Alfie, Harry Palmer or Jack Carter. I said "I have never played anyone remotely like me." He cdn't understand that. "Those are all people that I knew, not people that I am."

Legendary ballet dancer Robert Helpmann was asked, as the notorious naked revue Oh! Calcutta debuted in London, whether he wd ever do a naked ballet, he said "Certainly not. Because everything doesn't stop when the music does."

One of his earliest acting jobs was working for a guy called Alwyn D. Fox in a small theatrical company in Sussex. He learned many things, not least to check that his flies were done up before going on stage. In one play his character was not on speaking terms with the rest of the cast and had to sit alone downstage. One night little old lady in the front row took pity on him and leaned over and gave him a caramel. The minute we'd finished, Alwyn rounded on me. "How dare you break the fourth wall!" What the hell was he talking about? "The fourth wall! It's the invisible wall between us and the audience and if you break that the magic of theatre is completely destroyed!"

Many years later MC was in Hollywood when he got a letter from a social worker in London who said had an old man called Alwyn D. Fox lying destitute in one of his wards. Mr Fox, he said, was claiming he'd discovered Michael Caine. In all likelihood it was a fantasy, but if there was any truth in it, wd I mind writing Mr Fox a letter and perhaps sending him a small amount of money to make his last few weeks a bit easier? I wrote at once to confrm Alwyn's story an enclosed a cheque for five thousand dollars. Two weeks later I had another letter from the social worker, returning the cheque. Alwyn had been delighted to get my letter he said, and had spent the day he received it showing it to everyone on the ward. He had died later that night.

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When his father died, they turned out his pockets, and all he had was three shillings and eightpence - after fifty-six years of hard manual labour. As I walked out of that ward I determined that my family wd never be poor again.

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His agent got him a role in a TV paly, but there was a catch - he had to join the actors' trade union Equity, and they already had a member with my stage name Michael Scott. (He was christened Maurice Micklewhite, a name he did not regard as an asset, even at school) So now he had half an hour to come up with a new name. He looked across the road and saw a film The Caine Mutiny advertised, and so he became Michael Caine.

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John Wayne's advice to MC. "Never wear suede shoes." Why not? "Because I was taking a piss the ther day and the guy in the next stall recognized me and turned toward me and said 'John Wayne - you're my favourite actor' and pissed all over my suede shoes."

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