Michael Winner has died aged 77

Michael Winner at the book launch of his autobiography in 2010 (Photo: AP)

Michael Winner at the book launch of his autobiography in 2010 (Photo: AP)

Film director Michael Winner has died aged 77, his wife has said.

Born in Hampstead, north London, in 1935 to a Russian father and a Polish mother, he started writing as a film critic aged just 14. He studied law and economics at Downing College, Cambridge, where he was the first Jewish editor of Cambridge University newspaper Varsity.

He has directed over 40 films in the UK and America, including Death Wish starring Charles Bronson in 1974. He later turned from films to food and wrote a restaurant review column called "Winner’s Dinners" for the Sunday Times for 15 years.

Mr Winner, who was not a practising Jew, told the JC in 2007: “I still keep my seat at the New West End Synagogue out of respect for my father. I never go. I’m sure they’re flogging it twice.” His father, George, was a founder-member of the synagogue.

He also helped to fund the Orde Wingate children’s village near Haifa where his parents set up the Winner Synagogue.

He was given 18 months to live in the summer of 2012 and stopped writing his column in December 2012. He said that he had considered using the Swiss assisted suicide clinic Dignitas to help him die.

Last updated: 3:44pm, January 21 2013