Comic genius JONATHAN WINTERS dies, master of hilarity stilled at 87.
The fabled master of improv who did more than a thousand characters died last night at his home in Montecito, California, surrounded by family and friends.
Hailing from Dayton, Ohio at age 17 he dropped out of high school and enlisted with the Marines Corp, serving two and a half year in the Pacific during WW2.
Plugging his comedy albums on the Verve Label Winters was a stable on late night talk shows during the 1960s and made his character Maude Frickett a tempestuous old lady a household name as Winters made the rounds from Jack Paar to Johnny Carson.
He also appeared in all-star comic films “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” released in Cinerama, “Viva Max” and “The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!” but was equally effective in an adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s dark comedy “The Loved One”.
Famously, Winters was a supernatural pool hustler on “The Twilight Zone” besting Jack Klugman.
Winters was also a semi regular on “Mork and Mindy” appearing as Mearth the son of Mork (Robin WiIlliams), “Hollywood Squares’ and on “Hee Haw”.
In an interview with the Archive of American Television Winters reported that he suffered a nervous breakdown and spent eight months in a private mental hospital in the late 1950s. He was later diagnosed as a manic depression.
On his classic 1960 comedy album The Wonderful World of Jonathan Winters during his "flying saucer" routine, Winters drops the bombshell that if he wasn't careful, the authorities might put him back in the "zoo", referring to the institution.
“As a kid, I always wanted to be lots of things," Winters told U.S. News & World Report in 1988. "I was a Walter Mitty type. I wanted to be in the French Foreign Legion, a detective, a doctor, a test pilot with a scarf, a fisherman who hauled in a tremendous marlin after a 12-hour fight."
Adios, amigo – thanks for the much-needed laughs!