renowned actor Michael Caine has claimed he hastened his terminally ill father's death by persuading a doctor to give him a fatal overdose.
Caine said he could not bear to see his dad in anguish and advocated voluntary euthanasia in circumstances "where life is no longer bearable".
He kept the circumstances of the death a secret from his mother and has not spoken of that night in 1957 until now.
Maurice Micklewhite was 56 and dying of liver cancer when Caine visited him in St Thomas' Hospital, London.
The actor recalls: "I was in such anguish over the pain he was in that I said to this doctor, I said: 'Isn't there anything else you could . . . Just give him an overdose and end this'. Because I wanted him to go. And he said, 'Oh, no, no, no, we couldn't do that'.
"And then as I was leaving, he said, 'Come back at midnight'. I came back at midnight and my father died at five past 12. So he'd done it."
Asked if he agreed with voluntary euthanasia, Caine replied: "Oh, I think so, yeah. I think if you're in a state to where life is no longer bearable.
"My father was semi-conscious. He couldn't tell you that he would want to go.
"They told me he only had three or four days to go anyway."
The 77-year-old actor was asked if his mother, Ellen, knew what had happened, Michael replied: "No, she never knew anything about this. I never, ever told her about anything."
Alistair Thompson, spokesman for UK-based anti-euthanasia activists 'Care Not Killing', said: "There is always an alternative to euthanasia.
"We have great doctors and fantastic hospices in this country, and systems in place to ensure no patient will suffer pain or discomfort if they are terminally ill.
"That has been developed over a number of years, and I find that the experts who we work with regularly do not believe there is any necessity to legalise euthanasia. There is absolutely no need to consider more drastic action, which is both cruel and unnecessary."
Caine has previously spoken highly of his father and lamented the fact that he died before his son found success on the big screen.
"When he died I was broke, out of work and just got divorced. He thought I was a bum," he once said.
"I am my father -- a complete copy of him. Except he never got out. He was very bright, a lot brighter than me actually.
"He had to teach himself to read and write."
The star of 'Zulu', 'Alfie' and 'The Italian Job' was named after his father, but changed his name when he embarked upon an acting career.
He drew on his father's death for a scene in the 2001 film Last Orders. "It was very strange. If you see it, I'm very good because my father died of cancer in St Thomas' Hospital and I just copied his death. That's sense-memory carried to an extreme and you don't normally want to do it, believe me."
Mrs Micklewhite, a charlady, died in 1989 harbouring a secret of her own. Several years before she married, she gave birth to an illegitimate child, David, and gave him up to the Salvation Army.
The boy suffered from epilepsy and spent his life in an asylum, where she visited him every Monday for 50 years without telling a soul.
Caine only learned of David's existence when a newspaper contacted him several years after their mother's death.
"I felt absolute amazement, how she'd fooled us all for years, every Monday," he said.
The actor tracked down his brother and visited him regularly until he died. (© Daily Telegraph, London)