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Julian Bray provides: Opinion, comment, forward thinking speculation on Travel, Cruise & Aviation: conflict zones, terrorist impact, drone (UAV) issues, safety (black boxes, emergencies), airline operations, aviation finance, political implications, and all forms of incident risk. Worked at board level with several airline and aviation groups, including Alitalia, British Island Airways, British Airways, Galileo , British Aerospace, Skyways, former CEO City firm Leadenhall Assoc. Founder CNS City News Service. Director NTN Television News (joint co. with ITV Wales TWW) Debretts People 2017 and in launch edition of PRWeek Black Book.

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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Michael Winner Dies


One of his first films was a travelogue called "This is Belgium." Winner said a few years later because Belgium proved too rainy, it was shot largely in East Grinstead, southern England. 

  Michael Winner Dies

Michael Winner 1935 - 2013


Julian Bray writes: I was sorry to hear of the death of Michael Winner who sadly passed away on Monday age 77. I first met Michael in the early 70's, and in the last few years contributed a few jokes and anecdotes for his Winners Dinners column in the Sunday Times.  Ironically he announced only very recently, he was giving up the column, it was an open secret that the cancer he fought over many years, was finally getting the better of him.  Michael lived a few streets away in Holland Park Kensington, and I in the 70's, lived nearby in Pembroke Place, W8, a little square, behind the Kensington Odeon.

He would drop into the South Kensington Mario and Franco Restaurant Trattoo, from time to time only, to find Spike Milligan unexpectedly playing the piano (something Spike would do to break up the chore of shopping)  surrounded by supermarket carrier bags. Ever affable but not averse to striking terror into the hearts of  restaurateurs if his favourite table was not available or the service,  food, a 'million pound refit' not up to standard. He famously owed a few million to the banks, proving a point for lesser mortals, that if a banker banks with you. rather than you banking with them , the service and respect is decidedly much better.

In 1984, following the murder by shooting of PC Yvonne Fletcher, Michael Winner founded the Police Memorial Trust. Initially the Trust concentrated on erecting smaller monuments at the points where officers had died on duty. From the mid-1990s the Trust also lobbied and raised funds for a single, larger scale memorial to commemorate all police officers who had died in the course of their duties.Winner stated that "Memorials to soldiers, sailors and airmen are commonplace, but the police fight a war with no beginning and no end".

Winner donated £500,000 of his own money to the campaign for a national memorial and the remainder of the total cost of £2.3 million was met by public subscriptiion. After a ten-year campaign, Westminster City Council granted planning permission for it in October 2002.

His wife Geraldine who he first met in the 1950's and finally married him just a few years ago, said he died at his London home after an illness. He had in fact suffered from cancer for a number of years.  No stranger to hospitals or near death experiences, he had to be flown back to Britain from Barbados in Sir Philip Green’s private jet after he suffered a serious bout of food poisoning in 2007. He nearly lost his left leg after being infected by the vibrio vulnificus bacteria from an oyster.

Two years ago Winner, then 75, collapsed with an E.coli infection and was taken to casualty at the Chelsea and Westminster hospital by ambulance.  Doctors spent four days getting the infection under control — with his wife of two months, Geraldine, bringing him specially prepared meals from his favourite local restaurants because he did not dare risk eating hospital food. But there again the e-coli was from an infection caused by Winner eating raw meat AT HOME in the form of steak tartare!

Michael Winner directed over 30 movies included three "Death Wish" films starring the late Charles Bronson. Few if any were acclaimed by the film critics, but the audiences loved them and adverse comment of his films mattered little, he also worked with Hollywood icons including Marlon Brando, Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum and Faye Dunaway. Keep many as lifelong friends but as we all do losing a few along the way.

One of his earliest films was for example the 1962 nudist feature "Some Like It Cool"; later, he specialized in thrillers and action movies, including "The Mechanic," "Scorpio" and the violent "Death Wish" series.

Born in London in 1935, Winner was writing a showbiz column for a local newspaper by the time he was 14, and as a student edited the Cambridge University newspaper, Varsity.   After a stint as a film critic, he started his movie-making career on shorts and documentaries.

One of his first films was a travelogue called "This is Belgium." Winner said a few years later because Belgium proved too rainy, it was shot largely in East Grinstead, southern England.

His 1960s English  films included "West 11," a gritty thriller set in a shabby London neighborhood; "The System," a tale of young men on the prowl in a seaside town; and "I'll Never Forget What's'isname" starring Oliver Reed as a fed-up London adman and Orson Welles as his boss. Truly we will not see the like of Michael Winner again, my thoughts are with his wife Geraldine, I suggested to Michael that on their nuptials he was again punching well above his weight. He agreed.

(C) Julian Bray 2013


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