Michael Winner Dies Aged 77

21 January 2013

Director and bon-viveur dies at home

Michael Winner was one of the most recognisable faces in Britain, having moved towards celebrity and away from the filmmaking that made his name, via his notoriously forthright restaurant columns and car insurance adverts.

The Hampstead born, Cambridge educated Winner began his career with a showbiz column in The Kensington Post, before moving into directing for film and television in the 1950s.

Winner is best remembered for his brutal revenge thrillers The Mechanic in 1972, and Death Wish two years later, both starring his close friend Charles Bronson. Despite an uneven catalogue of films, Winner worked with, and was acclaimed by, some of cinema's biggest names. 

Orson Welles, Marlon Brando, Burt Lancaster, Jack Palance, Alain Delon, Ava Gardner, Robert Mitchum, Sophia Loren, James Coburn, Faye Dunaway, John Gielgud, Lauren Bacall, Jeremy Irons, Anthony Hopkins, Michael Caine, Roger Moore, Ben Kingsley and Bob Hoskins all appeared in Winner's movies. Not bad for a director dismissed by many as a hack.

Since making his last film in 1999, Winner had concentrated mostly on his media work, but after falling ill with an infection in 2007, he had struggled with his failing health, admitting that liver specialists had told him last summer that he had less than two years to live.