Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Tributes paid to Michael Winner

Film director and restaurant critic Michael Winner has died

Tributes have been paid to one of the "true originals" - film director and restaurant critic Michael Winner - who has died aged 77.

Mr Winner, who made more than 30 films including the blockbuster Death Wish series, had been ill for some time.

He died at home in Kensington, London, where he was being nursed by wife Geraldine following a lengthy battle with liver disease.

Paying tribute to her husband, Mrs Winner, 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."

In a career spanning 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.

Winner, 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.

His initiative led to a National Police Memorial being erected in the Mall in central London.

Steve Lloyd, trust manager and vice-chairman of the Police Roll of Honour Trust, said: "Michael had been ill for some time, but this is still a sad loss. Michael was a keen supporter of police charities and in particular was the founder of the project that led to the National Police Memorial being placed in the Mall in London."

Andrew Lloyd Webber, who was among the close friends to celebrate Winner's wedding two years ago, 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."

Restaurant critic Jay Rayner wrote on Twitter: "RIP Michael Winner. He could be absurd and made some lousy films. But he could also be a rather lovely man. Winner made life more interesting."

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