Michael Robert Winner was born on October 30 1935, the only child of a couple of Russian emigre stock. His father was a millionaire property developer and his mother, as colourful a character as himself, was an inveterate gambler who lost millions in the casinos in Cannes.
At the age of 13, the young Winner was already showing an entrepreneurial streak. He started to write a showbusiness column called Michael Winner's Show Talk, syndicated to 35 local papers.
He attended St Christopher's School, Letchworth, and was asked to leave because he was paying another boy to clean his room. He avoided National Service by pretending to be gay.