Sir Michael Caine was awarded the Freedom of the City of London yesterday as an exhibition opened to celebrate the actor’s glittering career.
The Hollywood star, who turns 80 next week, was recognised by the City of London Corporation for his achievement in film with the honour, which dates back to the 13th Century.
It coincided with the display of family photos and portraits of the London-born actor by David Bailey and Terry O’Neill, plus a selection of film and audio footage from his best-loved movies, at the Museum of London.
Sir Michael was presented with his award during a special service conducted by the Clerk of the Chamberlain’s Court at the museum’s City Gallery.
Curator Beverley Cook said: “Sir Michael Caine is one of London’s most-loved and recognisable characters.
“He was the first actor to bring an authentic London accent to the big screen and, although Hollywood success made him an international star, he remains inextricably linked to his London roots.
“This exhibition will celebrate how the city influenced both Caine’s life and his career.”
Speaking ahead of the exhibition, Sir Michael said: “I think the museum is great for London, and I am so proud to be included.”
The Freedom of the City of London is believed to have started in 1237 and is granted to those who have made outstanding contributions to London life.
Many of the so-called traditional privileges associated with it, such as driving sheep over London Bridge or being hanged with a silken rope, no longer exist.
Sir Michael was born Maurice Micklewhite Jnr in Rotherhithe, south-east London, the son of a Billingsgate fish market porter. After making his film debut in A Hill in Korea (1956), he received his big break in the 1964 film Zulu.
He has now featured in more than 100 films, with his latest offering, Now You See Me, due to be released in June. It also stars Morgan Freeman and Jesse Eisenberg.
The exhibition of his life and work runs until July 14 and entry is free.