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Michael Caine will be honored at the Lincoln Center

SIR MICHAEL CAINE TO BE HONORED AT THE ANNUAL GALA TRIBUTE AT THE FILM SOCIETY OF THE LINCOLN CENTER

7 pm, APRIL 26, 2004 at AVERY FISHER HALL

The event, which annually honors major figures in the film world, will take place Monday, April 26, 2004 at 7pm at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. The evening will consist of highlights from Caine’s impressive film career and on-stage appearances by actors and directors with whom he has worked. Confirmed participants (as of March 29) are Sean Connery, Steve Martin, and Andrea Marcovicci.

Sir Michael (he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002) is that special breed of actor who is never seen “acting.” A consummate professional with a range and versatility that stagger the imagination, he has been a major international star since the 1960s, when he jumped from the ranks of anonymity to recognition as Harry Palmer, the bespectacled anti-hero of a series of Len Deighton spy thrillers—The Ipcress File, Funeral in Berlin and The Million Dollar Brain. Here is where one gets the first inkling of the Michael Caine style of acting, a low-key, psychologically acute approach most recently seen in The Quiet American (2002) and The Statement (2004).

It was his role in Alfie (1966) that brought Caine worldwide stardom. In this comedy hit he played to perfection a Cockney playboy bent on seducing every “bird” in London. Alfie earned him his first Academy Award nomination, as well as the New York Film Critics Prize for Best Actor. He was also nominated for Sleuth (1972), Educating Rita (1983), and The Quiet American (2002), winning Oscars for Best Supporting Actor for Hannah and Her Sisters (1985) and Cider House Rules (1999).

Caine was born in South London. His father was a Billingsgate Fish Market porter, his mother a charwoman. They were very poor, living in a gas-lit, two-room bedroom flat until the Blitz forced his evacuation, with younger brother Stanley, to the safety of a farm in Norfolk. After the war, the family moved into a prefab in London’s East End. A childhood fascination with movies, an insatiable hunger for novels, frequent visits to the Old Vic Theater, performances in school plays, and a taste for directing drama in a youth club all stimulated his imagination and belief that he would one day be an actor.

Caine left school at 16, working in numerous menial jobs until National Service with the Royal Fusiliers took him to Korea. On his discharge he worked days and studied acting in the evenings. His first job in the theater was as assistant stage manager in a Sussex rep company where he eventually got to play juvenile leads. He changed his name from Maurice Micklewhite to Michael Caine, after The Caine Mutiny marquee sign caught his eye. But success was not swift. There were many lean and hungry years, touring with rep companies and doing bit parts in TV dramas.
His first real break came when Peter O’Toole dropped out of the West End stage hit, The Long, The Short and The Tall, and Caine took over the part and toured the provinces with it. He was a working actor but the movie career that he aspired to was still out of reach.

It was not until 1963 that a significant turning point took place: he was signed to play the secondary role of an effete aristocrat in the adventure saga Zulu. Instead of an easy caricature, he played the character straight, as a weak man who at least believed he was strong. According to the critics, he turned this supporting role into a starring one, and stole the picture.

The 1970s and 1980s were halcyon years because of the many excellent vehicles for his talents. Comedy, drama, action adventure, and spy thriller, no genre was beyond his reach. Highlights of those decades include The Italian Job (1969), Get Carter (1972), The Man Who Would be King (1975, his memorable teaming with Sean Connery), California Suite (1978), Dressed to Kill (1980), Deathtrap (1982), Educating Rita (1983), Blame it on Rio (1984), Hannah and Her Sisters (1985), Sweet Liberty (1986), Mona Lisa (1986), The Whistle Blower (1987), and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988).

In 1992 he formed a partnership with American producer Martin Bregman—M and M Productions—to make films in Britain that he would star in, direct, or produce. The first film was Blue Ice (1992), co-starring Sean Young. During the past decade he starred in The Cider House Rules (1999), Quills (2000), Miss Congeniality (2000), Last Orders (2000), The Quiet American (2002), Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002), Second Hand Lions (2003), and The Statement (2004), among others.

Among the directors Caine has worked with are Brian de Palma, John Huston, Oliver Stone, Sidney Lumet, and Woody Allen. But no matter what the project—high quality, average or even forgettable—Caine is always a standout.

While he has made his mark as an outstanding actor, he has also ventured into other arenas. He has published his autobiography, What’s It All About?, together with a definitive Acting on Film book based on the successful series of lectures he gave on BBC Television. A former restaurateur, he was co-owner of London’s Langan’s Brasserie, Langan’s Bistro, Odin’s, and The Canteen, in Chelsea Harbor. His first American venture was a tropical brasserie located in South Beach, Miami. He married Shakira Baksh, a Guyana-born beauty, who was a runner-up in The Miss Universe contest in 1973. They are the parents of two daughters, Nikki (or Dominique, from his first marriage) and Natasha.

The Film Society’s annual star-studded Gala Tribute has been held each year since 1972 in recognition of outstanding performers and filmmakers. In 2003, the Tribute honored Susan Sarandon, with Gore Vidal, Geena Davis, Tim Robbins, and David Bowie appearing on stage. Past honorees include Francis Ford Coppola, Al Pacino, Mike Nichols, Martin Scorsese, Sean Connery, and Clint Eastwood (25th anniversary of Gala Tribute) and each artist has appeared in person at Lincoln Center to receive the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s honorary award.

For the second consecutive year, Film Society Chairman Ira Resnick will award the Gala Tribute honoree with a priceless hand-blown glass amphora courtesy of world-famous Italian glassmakers Venini. This one-of-a-kind piece, the Veronese, featured in a classic Venetian straw-yellow, imparts a sleek, timeless style that is at once distinctly modern while, at the same time, reminiscent of the beautiful vessels of the classical period. The award, 8½ inches high, is made exclusively for the honoree of the Gala Tribute and is signed on the underside of the base along with a commemorative inscription.

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