Michael Winner, the 77-year-old director of the Death Wish series, is being mourned by family, friends and fans today after passing away at his home in West London on Monday (January 21, 2013). Following the end of his filmmaking career, Winner forged a new identity as a bombastic and irate restaurant critic - he published his final 'Winner's Dinners' column in The Times, on January 15, 2013.
Knowing he was close to death, Winner gave his loyal readership an insightful glimpse into his final days, recalling his trip to Switzerland's Gstaad Palace, the favoured haunt of Mervyn Peake's Mr Steerpike character. Winner wrote how his "'bill for 12 nights was 47,900 Swiss francs (£34,963 at 1.37 Swiss francs to the pound, the rate I got at Marks & Spencer)." The writer observed "If I weren't British through and through, I'd move to Switzerland. Not for tax reasons but because it's so well run and beautiful," before poignantly signing off with, "Gstaad is packed with famous names, all fighting not to be in this column. I totally understand. It's a miracle they speak to me. If it were known that they associated with me, they'd be barred from right-thinking society. Tell you about it later. Now I need a rest."
Many of Winner's friends have been paying tribute to the late filmmaker, with broadcaster Danny Baker calling him "a chum, a funny man who twinkled...[and a] proper old rascal." Edgar Wright - the filmmaker behind Shaun of the Dead - called him a "crazy genius," while Gordon Ramsay called him "the most charismatic food critic ever. Loved him dearly."