For his 85th birthday party in London, Michael Caine arrived in a wheelchair — but never fear, he’s still going strong. He just slipped in the snow and broke his ankle. “He’s in fine health and great spirits,” a spokesman says. After a more than 50-year career in movies, it’ll take a lot more than a slip and fall to get Michael to slow down. “My life has improved from decade to decade,” says Michael, who found film stardom in 1966 with Alfie after spending nearly a decade toiling on-stage and in smaller roles.
“My joy nowadays is not movies, money, or women — I’ve been married for 45 years to the most wonderful woman I’ve ever met.” (He wed Shakira Baksh, a former Miss Guyana, in 1973 when he was 39 and she was 25.) So what’s his joy? “My grandchildren,” says Michael of his daughter Natasha’s three kids. “I’m devoted to them.”
Michael and his wife, Shakira.
He’s also committed to the principles he’s come to cherish during his life and career. “I’m a feminist to the core,” he says. An interviewer once asked my wife, ‘What first attracted you to Michael?’ and she said, ‘The way he treated his mother.'” (Michael was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite Jr. in London and raised by his fish-porter father and cook-charwoman mother.)
Michael has also learned some valuable lessons from his movie-star contemporaries. “I used to smoke a lot, but Tony Curtis saved my life,” he says. “I was at a party, chain-smoking by the fireplace, when a hand came round from behind me, took the cigarettes out of my pocket, and threw them in the fire. It was Tony Curtis. We’d never met, but he said, ‘You’re going to die if you keep doing that, you idiot,’ So I quit.”
Michael and his daughter.
He’s tried to pay it forward with similar acts of kindness to his fellow actors. “Michael treated me like I was his son,” Ed Begley Jr., who co-starred with Michael in the 1994 mini-series World War II: When Lions Roared, tells Closer. What did Michael teach him? “Learn your lines, never blink, and do what the director and writer need you to do,” shares Ed.
At 85, Michael’s still working hard, producing, and appearing in My Generation, a new documentary about the 1960s, and acting in the upcoming comedy Dear Dictator. “If I get a script I really want to do, I will,” he says. “I’m busy enough.” And he’s happy that Hollywood has started to make more movies with older actors, like his longtime friend and frequent co-star Morgan Freeman. “It’s like the audience has grown up with me!” he says.
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