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Movies, Television and Broadway


MOVIES
Gambit

Universal 1966

Gambit was my entry in the crime caper sweepstakes that was taking place in films that year. My brother Warren had Bonnie and Clyde and I had Gambit, which was the story of an elaborate scheme to steal a priceless Chinese statuette.

The studio - Universal, had given me the power to select the director and leading man of my choice. At the time we were thinking of Sidney Furie as a possible director, so we screened his hot new film. Unfortunately Sidney was committed, but one of the actors in the film, the guy with the glasses, really caught my eye. His name was Michael Caine.

I selected him for my leading man and that was the beginning of a long, lustrous career for Michael. He would later say, "That's how I got into Hollywood… she was very kind. All those stories I've heard about stars being awkward and standoffish - but here was a super star, one of the most powerful women in Hollywood, going out of her way for me. I'll always remember her for that. She was the passport to glamour for me."

I adore Michael's acting ability and he tickled me with his dry sardonic wit. The media always felt there was a hidden agenda in my selecting him as my leading man in Gambit. I remember telling a reporter that there was no sexual chemistry between us off screen, if I would go to bed with Michael I'm sure we would just laugh all night. We couldn't do anything else because we would be laughing too much.

When Michael arrived in Hollywood, he cut a wide swath through the single girls like a rocket with no resistance. He would report to work after a hard night's play, stagger into his trailer, blast his Beatles records up to hyperspace, and try to get some sleep. Michael was funny about his Hollywood escapades. He was most confused by American pantyhose and couldn't figure a way to get into them, around them, or through them. I suggested he hang himself with them.

Michael takes a part and finds a laugh at every corner and I am so glad he never forgot his humble beginnings because that memory is the reason for the audiences' continued identification with him. Long live Sir Michael.

About Shirley
Shirley and Michael Caine in Gambit
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