Jonathan Winters Remembered
Most of us grew up with Jonathan Winters, whether it was on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Jack Paar, on Mork and Mindy, the classic comedy It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, or dozens of other TV shows and movies in the 60s and 70s. ABC News confirms that Winters died Thursday night of natural causes in his Monticello, California home. He was 87.
It was those appearances on the Tonight Show that really made Winters famous. He would appear as one of several characters, including one of my favorites Maude Frickert. He was a master at improvisation and enjoyed a prolific comedy album career.
Some will remember Winters from the last season of Mork and Mindy, the ABC sit-com starring Robin Williams, who often cited Winters as his idol and inspiration.
Friend and fellow comic Carol Burnett issued a statement, declaring, "Johnny and I started out together and were both discovered by Garry Moore, when he would introduce new young talent. Later he was a guest on my show. Johnny was a genius and a brilliant artist and two of his paintings are hanging in my home."
Winters was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 1999, following Richard Pryor as the prize's second recipient. His most recent film role was providing the voice of Papa Smurf in 2011's The Smurfs, a role he reprised in the upcoming The Smurfs 2. He also spent his later years writing and painting.
Most of us didn't know he was married to his wife Eileen for 60 years, who died in 2009.
Jonathan Winters was a classic, and I think we knew that even way back then that there was something special about him. His humor was often dry and sarcastic, and always funny. There will never be another Jonathan Winters, or anyone like him.The comic hole he leaves behind will remain unfilled.