Michael Winner, the 'Death Wish' film director and revered newspaper columnist, has died at the aged of 77, his wife Geraldine has confirmed to BBC News. Born in London in 1935, the filmmaker directed numerous films before heading into food criticism and becoming a well-known television personality.
He was famous for his barbed restaurant reviews for The Sunday Times, under the banner "Winner's Dinners." He was also known for his disdain of celebrity chefs, telling Laurie Taylor on the Sky Arts programme In Confidence, "Oh, celebrity chefs are a joke, aren't they? A joke. A joke. Why are they celebrities? We'll have celebrity plumbers soon and celebrity road sweepers. I mean, they're the most ridiculous - should shut up and stay in the kitchen." Last summer, he sadly revealed that liver specialists had given him just 18 months to live.
His initial work as a director was satirical, though Winner became known for his action movies, including the violent Death Wish series starring Charles Bronson. Younger audiences were probably more familiar with Winner's television adverts for an insurance company, featuring his catchphrase, "Calm down dear!"
Paying tribute to her husband, Mrs Winner - a former dancer whom Michael 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." The director died at his home in Kensington, London, where he was being cared for by Geraldine.