Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Film director Michael Winner dies

Michael Winner has died at the age of 77

Michael Winner, the film director and restaurant critic, has died at the age of 77.

Michael, who made more than 30 films including the blockbuster Death Wish series, had been ill for some time and died today at his home in Kensington, London, where he was being nursed by his wife Geraldine.

Paying tribute to her husband, Geraldine, a former dancer who he married two years ago, said in a statement: "Michael was a wonderful man, brilliant, funny and generous. A light has gone out in my life."

Actor John Cleese paid tribute to his friend.

"I have just heard the very sad news about Michael. He was the dearest, kindest, funniest and most generous of friends. I shall miss him terribly," he said in a statement.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, who was among the close friends to celebrate Winner's wedding the day before the nuptials, wrote on Twitter: "Dearest Mr Michael Winner. True originals come rarely in a lifetime. Madeleine (Lloyd Webber's wife) and I will deeply miss you. ALW."

TV mogul Simon Cowell also paid tribute. "I'm very sad to hear about Michael passing away. He's become a very good friend over the years and someone whose company I have always really enjoyed," he said in a statement.

"Laughter was never far away when Michael was around and he is someone who the more I got to know, the fonder I got of him. I am sure there are a lot of other people who, like me, will really miss him."

In a film career which spanned more than 50 years, he worked with some of the biggest stars in Hollywood, including Marlon Brando, Robert Mitchum and Faye Dunaway. He later reinvented himself as a restaurant critic, writing about food in his typically flamboyant style in his Winner's Dinners column for the Sunday Times.

Michael, whose appearance in adverts for motor insurance coined the catchphrase "Calm down dear, it's a commercial", also founded and funded the Police Memorial Trust following the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984. The initiative led to a National Police Memorial being erected in the Mall in central London.

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