Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mr. Grim

The fellow above is one Maurice Joseph Mickelwhite, known to the acting world as Michael Caine, born this day 1933 in London, England. The son of a char lady and a part Roma fish market porter, young Michael grew up in WW II London, but was evacuated, to escape the Blitz, to Norfolk. After graduating grammar school, he worked as a clerk and a runner for a film company until he was called up for his National Service from 1952 to 1954, during which time he saw active service in Korea. When he first became an actor he adopted the stage named Michael Scott, but was told that another actor had that name already, and he needed to pick a new one post haste. He was on the phone with his agent when told this, and he tells the story that he looked out of the booth and saw that "The Caine Muinty" was playing at the Odeon Cinema. Thus, Michael Caine was born, he tells the joke that if he had looked the other way he would have been named Michael One Hundred and One Dalmatians. He began acting in the early 1960s after answering an advert for an assistant stage manager at a theatre in Sussex. His first "big" role was as Gonville Bromhead in 1964's "Zulu", it is a lovely film, and a lovely role, and I have seen it numerous times. He went on to one of his more famous roles in 1966's Alfie, a much better performance that an unnamed fellow gave in the remake. Watch the original, and appreciate that Cockney accent that is one of his trademarks, and what helped him stand out to American audiences. He made numerous films since then, and some of them were quite horrid. He commented about one major failure saying that he had never seen the entire film, but heard it was quite horrible, but he had also seen the house it built, and it was quite lovely. I guess actors taking roles solely for the money is something that we just have to accept, after all, a man's got to eat. One of the roles that I love him in, and gets him up onto the hero podium today is as Scrooge in "The Muppet's, A Christmas Carol" an awesome film, and he does an excellent job playing the grim Scrooge, evening singing a song or two, quite well I might add. He has the habit of being able to quote odd facts from the Guinness book of World Records at the drop of a hat, and usually would end his tidbit with the line "not many people know that." That line has become a bit of a trademark of his, and he even wrote a book with that title. Unlike most actors, he still uses his real name Micklewhite in his everyday dealings, leaving the stage name for the stage. So, for all those lovely roles (and even for the bad films), Maurice Joseph Mickelwhite (March 14th, 1933- present), you are my (199th) hero of the day. Happy Birthday you Cockney bastard!

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