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'Death Wish' Director Michael Winner Dies at 77

Michael Winner - P 2011
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The British filmmaker and restaurant critic died Monday at home in London.

Michael Winner, the British director of films including 1974's Death Wish, died Monday at his home in London following an illness, The Associated Press reports. He was 77.

The AP confirmed the news with Winner's wife, Geraldine Winner, an ex-dancer who married him two years ago. She called Winner "a wonderful man -- brilliant, funny and generous. A light has gone out in my life."

Winner helmed 30 films including the revenge-themed action picture Death Wish and its two sequels starring Charles Bronson.

Some of his other films include Some Like It Cool (1962), which he also wrote; The Mechanic (1972), also starring Bronson; Scorpio (1973), toplined by Burt Lancaster; and The Big Sleep, with Robert Mitchum. He once told the AP about his B-movie career: "If you want art, don't mess about with movies. Buy a Picasso."

Winner also dabbled in media punditry as an acid-tongued restaurant critic for the U.K.'s Sunday Times, penning the "Winner's Dinners" column. If he especially liked his dinner, he would deem it "historic." A negative review could get him banned from a venue.

Later in life, he also starred in a series of insurance commercials that had a signature catchphrase ("Calm down, dear!") and launched a campaign to build a London memorial honoring fallen police officers.

"Very sad to hear Michael Winner has died," wrote CNN's Piers Morgan on Twitter. "Hilarious, often preposterous, always generous, highly intelligent man. And terrific writer. RIP."