46 Years Ago Michael Caine Saw a Girl in an Ad, Found Her, and Married Her — Then She Saved His Life
Sir Michael Caine has worked on more than 100 movies. He is one of those actors that are in-demand at any age. But at the beginning of his career, he had to take any job he was offered. He thinks that he owes his success to a woman he met who brought stability into his life. So, for 46 years now, Shakira Baksh has been his wife and partner. The story of how they met is probably just as impressive as Michael Caine’s career.
Who is Shakira Baksh?
Shakira and Michael Caine with their daughter Natasha, 1973
Shakira Baksh is from Guyana. At the age of 16, she left school and started working as a secretary in an American company branch office. As a result of the anti-American protests, the office was destroyed and she even has a scar on her face to this day as a reminder of those events.
Because living in her homeland was hard, Shakira’s only goal was leaving the country. Taking part in a beauty contest gave her that chance. When she won the title of “Miss Guyana,” she went on to compete in the “Miss World” competition in 1967 where she won third place.
Shakira Baksh (on the left) at the “Miss World” competition, 1967
Participating in “Miss World” was the beginning of her international career as a model and gave her a chance to stay in London. As a result, she appeared in the advertisement that Michael Caine initially saw her in.
Michael Caine’s life before he met Shakira
Michael Caine, 1965
The first 10 years of Michael Caine’s career were tough and as he said himself, they were more like purgatory than heaven. During that period, he met his first wife, actress Patricia Haines.
Michael remembers going through a lot of destructive things that were hard on his soul. He did the dishes at a restaurant, worked at a laundromat, and was a plumber’s assistant. He landed some small acting roles but they were few and far between. He thought that Patricia was more talented and she had more of a chance to become successful in the film industry.
7 years later, the marriage fell apart. According to Michael, he was too young and immature to deal with his poverty and personal and professional failures. 2 years later, he continued to do movies, and played the part of an aristocrat lieutenant in Zulus which ultimately made him famous. And nine years after his divorce in 1971, Michael met the woman he was supposed to live the biggest part of his life with.
They met each other thanks to an ad.
Michael Caine described the evening in which he saw his future wife for the first time in his autobiography. He and his friend Paul were watching a show on TV when they saw an ad for Maxwell House and Michael was already reaching for the remote when something caught his attention.
In the background, there was a girl dancing and he just couldn’t take his eyes off of her. The actor remembers, “My heart started pounding and my palms became sweaty.” When her face was shown in a close-up, Michael sat in front of the TV on his knees in order to see her better.
Confused, Paul asked, “What’s up with you?”
Michael said, “This girl is amazing.”
Paul said, “I know. Now what?”
The actor then said, “I want to meet her.” When Paul said she lived in Brazil, Michael asked him if he would travel with him to see her. Paul simply responded, “You’re mad, pal.” In the end, Michael convinced his friend and they got on the earliest flight.
Michael planned to call the Maxwell House office in the morning to find out who did the commercial for them. But he couldn’t relax or calm down, so they went to a bar. When Michael was going to leave, a guy he knew came up to him and the actor told him he had fallen in love.
When asked who the girl was, Michael said, “The girl I saw on TV tonight.” It turned out that this guy from the bar worked for the company that shot the commercial. This was a stroke of great luck.
After Michael said that he was going to go to Brazil looking for the girl, the guys just started laughing. It turned out that the model wasn’t from Brazil but rather, she was from British Guiana (today, it’s Guyana in South America) but she lived and worked in London.
Michael called his future wife 11 times and she said no until she finally agreed to meet him. “I fell in love with her in about 8 minutes and it took her 2 hours to love me back,” the actor remembers.
Shakira remembers that Michael turned out to be completely different from what she expected. He looked very aggressive in the movies but in real life, he was charming and very soft — the kind of person she wanted to spend a part of her life with.
How Shakira influenced the actor’s life
Michael’s and Shakira’s wedding, 1973
When they met, Michael drank a bottle of vodka and smoked several packs of cigarettes a day. According to the actor, he would have drunk himself to death if it weren’t for Shakira. “She didn’t tell me to give up drinking, I just wanted to be sober and alive with her.” Since then, he’s only been able to drink a bit of wine during dinner. 2 years after they met, they got married and in 1973, they had their daughter, Natasha.
The Caines with their daughter Natasha, 1998
Shakira was always the person Michael wanted to come home to as soon as possible — he felt like a real family man with her. “I just love to go home, no matter where I am, the most luxurious hotel suite in the world, I love to go home.”
Michael Caine with his wife after receiving the Order of Arts and Letters in France, 2011
Michael Caine won several awards and earned the title of Knight. Shakira did films and TV-series but at some point, she left her career to be able to travel with her husband when he needed to work. For Michael, this prevented them from drifting apart and helped them keep their family together. Despite his age, Michael still thrives in his movie career.
After receiving the title of Knight, 2000
Shakira Baksh and Michael Caine have been together for 46 years. When they met each other, nobody could believe they would build such a strong family. Caine’s friends thought he was mad because he saw an attractive girl in an ad, felt it was his person, and was ready to do anything to find her. And he was right: Shakira made his life calm and harmonious — and it was exactly what he needed.
Michael and Shakira Caine, 2017
This photo was taken in 2019. Shakira is 72 and Michael is 86. This couple looks just as impressive as they did many years ago.
Do you think these two people were destined to meet? Would you go to a different country for the person you saw only once on-screen?