He's had more than 130 lovers and admits to being unfaithful to them all. But Michael Winner is to end his reign as Britain's most confirmed bachelor by finally marrying, at the age of 75.
The film director and food critic will marry Geraldine Lynton-Edwards, his fiancée and on-off girlfriend of 40 years. Ms Lynton-Edwards, 70, a pilates instructor who nursed Winner back to health after he contracted a flesh-eating bug, has waited patiently for the director to set a date. They met in 1957 when she auditioned for a role in his debut film.
They got engaged in 2007 but Winner told her: "Don't hold your breath for marriage." Yesterday he announced via Twitter: "Geraldine & I visited Registrar at Chelsea town hall to put the bans. Getting married mid Sept."
He told The Independent: "Michael and Shakira Caine are going to be the witnesses. Michael said he was afraid I'd do a runner if he didn't witness the marriage himself. I've had 130 lovers so I've had a good run. Geraldine makes up for all of them."
Winner, whose past amours include the actresses Jenny Seagrove and Jill Ireland, continued: "I've never been remotely close to marriage before. I didn't believe a marriage would be successful."
His resistance was worn down by Ms Lynton-Edwards, who shares his 47-room Holland Park mansion and has learnt how to handle the notoriously bloody-minded Winner. "She has all the qualities I lack," he said. "I always thought I would get married when I found someone who was absolutely marvellous. Geraldine looked after me throughout my terrible illness. We've been together years and we've known each other for decades. It's the best thing to do."
It wasn't the most romantic of proposals. "Michael [Caine] said if I got down on one knee I'd never get up. It just suddenly happened, after nine years together. We had a conversation and that was it. It was something she wanted and I wanted."
The couple met when Winner was working on his short film The Square. Geraldine was 16, an aspiring actress. "She came to audition on the first film I ever made. She got the role but the dodgy bit is she also got me. We didn't actually get together for years."
They enjoyed an on-off relationship from the 60s onwards but became a permanent fixture only in 2002 when Winner saw her and thought: "She looks bloody good." In 2007, Geraldine devoted herself to caring for Winner after he contracted a rare bacterial illness from oysters on holiday in Barbados, which required 11 life-saving operations. The former ballet dancer weaned him off champagne, cigars and rich food and on to a strict exercise regime. Winner claims he would be dead without her.
The Chelsea wedding next month will be a low-key affair with just a few close friends. The Winners will honeymoon in Portofino.Reuse content