NPR has been running an interview and excerpt from the memoirs of Michael Caine (The Elephant to Hollywood), which just came out in hardcover. Caine became a star in the U.K. in the mid-1960s, then moved to Hollywood as a nobody.
He has some brilliant things to say about Hollywood during the '60s and '70s, and you should waste no more time reading my words and head straight to NPR.org for the epic piece… or check out the best parts below:
[John Wayne] gave me all sorts of advice like 'Talk low, talk slow and don't say too much' [and] 'Don't wear suede shoes.' I said 'Why can't I wear suede shoes?' and he said 'You'll be in the toilet, taking a pee and a guy will recognize you and he'll turn and say 'Michael Caine' and he will have peed all over your shoes Michael.' So I said 'All right, I won't wear suede shoes.'"
Before we started the film, [Laurence Olivier] wrote me a little letter, a very nice letter, saying 'It has occurred to me, as I am a Lord, you may be wondering how to address me when we meet. When we do meet, Michael, from the moment we shake hands, I will be Larry forevermore,' which was lovely. He put me out of any sort of worry socially — but the idea that he had to do it is extraordinary and explains a very difficult thing, [which is] the class system in England.
[On co-hosting the 1973 Academy Awards] I was… waiting for the finale, which was to be John Wayne leading the entire cast in singing "You Oughta Be in Pictures." …no one knew the words and John Wayne couldn't sing in tune anyway. I was so embarrassed that I started to edge towards the back of the stage. I had been talking to Clint Eastwood, who had just been presenting an award, and he felt the same so he edged back with me. The problem is that we both edged back so far we fell off. It wasn't far, and neither of us was hurt, but we both became hysterical with laughter and couldn't finish the song. [NPR]
The first person to find a video clip of Eastwood and Caine falling off the stage wins today's special prize of my undying gratitude.