What Michael Caine Looked Like When He Was Younger

Ask any boomer about Michael Caine and they might remember about his success in the '60s as the star of "Alfie" and "The Italian Job." And while many actors from that era faded away from the spotlight, Caine continued an impressive run in film, even if he considered retirement when he was 65. If he had, the actor told Variety, "I would never have won an Academy Award, I would never have done a picture with Jack Nicholson, and would not have done all those movies with Christopher Nolan." Based on his decision, younger generations were first introduced to the actor through his role as Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred in the "Dark Knight" trilogy by Nolan. Even at the age of 88, Caine continued to act, appearing in every Nolan film through "Tenet." As Caine revealed, "I'm in his movies now as a good luck charm."

It was a rough start to Caine's career, from criticism as a young man to over-indulging in vices after becoming a star. But he settled in and went on to become a husband, writer, and a British acting legend — so much that Queen Elizabeth II knighted Caine. He remembered during the ceremony her majesty said, "I have the feeling you've been doing what you do for a very long time, Sir Michael."

So, what did Caine look like before he accomplished those impressive milestones? Enjoy this flashback to the actor as a young man.

Michael Caine went from the streets to the stage

When he was 10 years old, Michael Caine first became an actor in his school's production of "Cinderella" as "the father of the ugly sisters," he told Wired. As Caine remembered of that first role, "I got a laugh because my flies were undone and I took up acting based on the laugh." However, he did later admit with a laugh to the BBC, "I was in the play but I was a terrible actor." Caine went to school in Norfolk but was originally from South London. His family moved at the start of World War II and credits his time outside of London as a positive influence on his upbringing.

At the time he started to pursue acting, the parts of London like Caine's childhood weren't typically shown in entertainment. In those days, middle and upper class life was the norm on screen and actors spoke in a very regal manner. This made Caine stand out with his signature cockney accent. But like many trailblazers, he faced pushback for his unique way of speaking. Caine explained on TimesTalks that people told him he didn't speak properly enough to be an actor. "But I kept the accent in the hope that it would sort of break down the class barrier and say to young people like myself, 'You can do it.'" Even outside of the entertainment industry, he wanted to encourage others that anything is possible and "it doesn't matter how you speak."

Michael Caine had destructive habits

Since Michael Caine is a product of a different era, his habits may seem excessive to different generations. "In the 60s, we were drinkers," he told The Guardian. And towards the end of the decade, Caine remembered rampant drug use. The actor admitted to trying marijuana but after the experience, "I vowed I'd never take bloody drugs again." But this didn't mean Caine went on to avoid all vices. For much of the '60s, Caine was a chain-smoker. Then, one day at a party, actor Tony Curtis grabbed the pack of cigarettes in Caine's pocket and threw them in a fire right in front of him. Curtis allegedly told the actor he would die if he continued the addictive habit. "So I quit," Caine said. Later, Caine relapsed and started to smoke cigars until he saw one of his friends appear on TV "with a voice-box and I could see he was dying. I stubbed the cigar out in the ashtray and never smoked again."

In his memoir "Blowing the Bloody Doors Off: And Other Lessons in Life," Caine talked about his excessive drinking around the time he was 40 years old. "I thought that a small vodka for breakfast was nothing to worry about, and in the early 1970s I was drinking two bottles of the stuff a day," the actor wrote, via People. Fortunately, Caine met his future wife who helped him kick the drinking habit and turn his life around.

The dating history of Michael Caine

With handsome looks and a British accent, Michael Caine linked up with several famous women in his career. And it's not surprising given his film "Alfie" is all about Caine as a smooth-talking ladies' man. Early on, he dated fashion designer Edina Ronay — as she told the Daily Mail: "He was an out-of-work actor, I was doing television, he wasn't even that famous!" He also dated Mick Jagger's future wife Bianca Pérez-Mora Macías before she met the rock star. Caine and Bianca were introduced through their mutual tailor while she lived in Paris. Bianca moved to London with the actor but claimed to People, "Caine was unkind, superficial and kept me like I was his geisha." And photos of Caine in the '60s show him with many women, like one-time girlfriend Natalie Wood, via Life. Eventually, Caine tied the knot with British actor Patricia Haines and the couple had a daughter together, Dominique, People explained. Caine and Haines ultimately split up, turning the actor back into a bachelor.

One evening, Caine was watching a commercial for Maxwell House coffee and became enamored with the woman on screen, his future wife Shakira Baksh. It turned out she lived in London so Caine found her contact information and asked her out. She declined, "and I phoned her for 10 days and she wouldn't go out with me. But on the last day she did. And we've never left each other since," Caine told Wired.