Michael Robert Winner (born 30 October 1935) is an English retired film director, producer and food critic for the Sunday Times.
Winner was born in Hampstead, London, England, the son of Helen (née Zlota) and George Joseph Winner (1910-1975), a company director. His family was Jewish; his mother was Polish and his father of Russian extraction, and a Freemason. Following his father's death, Winner's mother gambled recklessly and sold art and furniture left to her only for life but to Michael thereafter, amounting to around £10m at the time. She died in a nursing home at the age of 78 in 1984.
He was educated at St Christopher School, Letchworth and Downing College, Cambridge, where he studied law and economics. He also edited the university's student newspaper, Varsity. Winner had earlier written a newspaper column, 'Michael Winner's Showbiz Gossip,' in the Kensington Post from the age of 14. The first issue of Showgirl Glamour Revue in 1955 has him writing another film and showbusiness gossip column, "Winner's World".] Such jobs allowed him to meet and interview several leading film personalities, including James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich. He also wrote for the New Musical Express.
He began his screen career as an assistant director of BBC television programmes, cinema shorts, and full-length "B" productions, occasionally writing screenplays. His first on-screen credit was earned as a writer for the 1958 crime film Man With a Gun, directed by Montgomery Tully. Winner's first credit on a cinema short was Associate Producer on the 1959 film Floating Fortress produced by Harold Baim. Winner's first project as a lead director involved another story he wrote, Shoot to Kill, in 1960.