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Michael Caine's The Elephant to Hollywood: Review
A great read plus the curious story of Michael's Caine's half-brother
I was so knocked out by this book that I was very tempted to review it before I'd even finished it.
As you can imagine, it's a beautiful mix of humour, pathos, gossip, history and Hollywood stories. I'd been in tears three times before I reached page fifty. (Tears of joy or of sadness? You'll see.)
One of our best-loved actors
Michael Caine is well on his way to becoming a legend in the world of film. But it wasn't always easy, of course.
As he says, it took him eleven years to become an overnight success. In his early years as a very under-employed actor, his colleagues - who were in the same situation - were other actors who today we think of as legends. Just reading about those days - the 1960s - is fascinating.
More than an actor
There's no byline for a co-writer for this book, as there are for so many Hollywood autobiographies and I'm not surprised - as I was reading it, it was like actually listening to Michael Caine speak. And he's a wonderful raconteur.
The book takes us right from his earliest days and throughout his long and enduring career.
The discovery of his half-brother
There are many stories I could tell you to get a flavour of this book but I'm just going to tell you one to whet your appetite. This isn't a glamorous Hollywood story but something extremely personal. It happened in the early 1990s.
There is a newspaper in the UK, a tabloid called The People, that is known for scandalous exposures. One day, Michael Caine received a call from them saying that they'd found his half-brother - a half-brother he'd never known about.
They were reporting on old-style lunatic asylums
These scary and Victorian-style establishments were, quite rightly, being closed down and the 'inmates' (we'd call them 'residents' or 'patients' today) were being re-housed in nursing homes or community care.
The newspaper was interviewing one of the more lucid inmates who pointed to an old gentleman in a wheelchair.
'That's Michael Caine's brother'
It was. I'm not going to go into the whys and wherefores because you should read it the way Michael Caine describes it; a million times better than I ever could.
Suffice it to say that it was a story of several tragic situations and it is a huge message of the true regard and esteem in which MIchael Caine is held by all.
The newspaper had a revelation - a real scoop - but didn't sensationalize the story.
They published it as a tribute to Michael Caine's late mother. That is so beautiful and such a lovely story.
Oh go on then, just one more story
As you know,Michael has a beautiful wife who he married in 1973. She was born in British Guyana and has the wonderful looks inherited from her Asian ancestry.
Some years ago, she and Michael were spending a quiet evening at home when there was a frantic knock on the door. Shakira went to answer it.
The man barged straight past her, not acknowledging her at all - assuming that she was the maid - and confronted Michael. 'Mr Caine, I am a neighbour and we really need to do something about this...'
Michael took him into the study where the man explained that in their posh residential area, an Asian family were buying a home.
'We cannot' he blustered 'have Asians in our select neighbourhood. You know,once you get them in,you'll never get them out'.
Michael grabbed the man and manhandled him into the lounge where Shakira was watching the television.
'Have you met my wife?' he asked.'You see,once you get them in, you'll never get them out'.
I love that story.
© 2013 Jackie Jackson