UK & World News
Michael Winner: Film Director Dies Aged 77
Film director and restaurant critic Michael Winner has died at the age of 77.
Winner, who had been ill for some time, died on Monday at his London home in Kensington, where he was being nursed by his wife Geraldine.
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."
Actor John Cleese also paid tribute, describing Winner as "the dearest, kindest, funniest and most generous of friends".
"I shall miss him terribly," he said in a statement.
In a film career spanning more than 50 years, Winner made more than 30 films, including the blockbuster Death Wish series, and 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.
Sky's Lucy Cotter said: "His first film was Shoot To Kill in 1960. The turning point in his career came in 1972, when he directed Marlon Brando in The Nightcomers.
"But it was really Death Wish, which starred Charles Bronson, which was seen as his most famous work, and at the time was incredibly shocking.
"People around the country will also know him for being a food critic.
"He wrote for The Sunday Times. He had a column, Winner's Dinners, for about 20 years.
"He was very humourous, very cantankerous. I think the people whose restaurants he came into would have in some ways dreaded him coming in because he did not hold back in those columns.
"He had been ill for a while, but people will be quite surprised to hear this sad news."
DJ Danny Baker wrote on Twitter: "A chum, a funny man who twinkled."
And former newspaper editor Piers Morgan tweeted: "Very sad to hear Michael Winner has died. Hilarious, often preposterous, always generous, highly intelligent man. And terrific writer. RIP."
TV mogul Simon Cowell said: "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."
Winner, whose appearance in adverts for motor insurance coined the catchphrase "Calm down dear, it's only 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.
More than 50 officers have been honoured by the trust at sites across the country.
Steve Lloyd, trust manager, said: "There is no doubt that Michael's work will be continued, and we at the trust pass on our sympathies to his family at this sad time.
"The work he did on behalf of the policing family bought a lot of comfort to those he recognised."
Winner, who was given 18 months to live by liver specialists last October, suffered several health scares over the years.
In February 2003, he spent two nights in Cromwell Hospital in London as a result of a heart condition.
Three years later, he embarked on a diet and wrote a book entitled The Fat Pig Diet, in which he claimed to have lost four stone eating caviar, chocolate, cake and Doritos.
The simple message he was putting across was: "Eat what you like - but eat less of it".
In 2007 he became seriously ill after eating a bad oyster in Barbados and almost had to have a leg amputated. He then contracted the superbug MRSA while in hospital.
Last year he revealed he had researched the possibility of ending his life at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland.
He said: "I checked Dignitas on the computer and you need to go through so much. It's not a walk-in death.
"You don't just go in and say 'Here I am, do your worst'."