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Tributes pour in for 'charismatic' director Michael Winner

22 JANUARY 2013

Stars such as Michael Caine and John Cleese have paid tribute to late journalist, film director and food critic Michael Winner.

The acid-tongued wit began his career in the showbiz circuit at the age of 14 when he wrote newspaper column Michael Winner's Showbiz Gossip.

The Cambridge graduate went on to pursue a film career, directing more than 30 films such as British classics Death Wish and The Big Sleep.

 

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In later life, the star wrote restaurant review column Winner's Dinners, and coined one of Britain's favourite catchphrases: "Calm down dear," for insurance company Esure's TV advertisements.

Friend and colleague Michael Caine has thanked fans for their tributes to the star. "God bless Michael Winner, I will miss him so much. Thank you for all of your kind words," said the actor on Twitter.

Close friends John Cleese and Andrew Lloyd-Webber have also passed on their condolences. "He was the dearest, kindest, funniest and most generous of friends," said comedian John. "I shall miss him terribly," the star added.

 

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Phantom Of The Opera composer Andrew also passed on the blessings of his and wife of 21 years, Madeleine. "Dearest Mr Michael Winner. True originals come rarely in a lifetime. Madeleine and I will deeply miss you," said the star.

Joanna Lumley, who starred in Michael's film Parting Shot, has recalled her memories of a "one-off character" who was "adorable".

"He was a truly loyal man, generous and funny and I loved him dearly. People just liked him. When he wasn't being a monster he was adorable. He was a real monstre sacré – though really more of the sacré than the monster.

"There was always the most tremendous crowd around him, often of extremely distinguished people. Sometimes he was treated as a joke; written him off as a fool, but there was much more to him than met the eye." 

Joanna added: "We would send each other postcards; mine addressed to 'Winner Darlink' as though he was just learning the language. I knew from this year's Christmas card it would be last as it didn't have the usual insanely fulsome greeting. He was a real one-off character and I'm very, very sad he's gone."

 

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Famed for his acerbic writings on cuisine, Michael was regarded as one of the most challenging food critics to impress. fittingly, the showbiz personality has been commemorated by chefs including the likes of Gordon Ramsey and Jay Rayner.

Hell's Kitchen star Gordon said: "Such sad news. The most charismatic food critic ever. Loved him dearly. God bless Michael Winner. Gx."

"RIP Michael Winner," wrote celebrity chef Jay Rayner. "He made life more interesting."

Michael leaves behind wife Geraldine Lynton-Edwards, whom he has known for 55 years and married in a quiet ceremony in 2011. Confirming that her husband died on liver failure in their Kensington residence, Geraldine said: "Michael was a wonderful man, brilliant, funny and generous. A light has gone out of my life."

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