Jonathan Winters Has Died

Master of improv Jonathan Winters died last Thursday at the age of 87, of natural causes. Best known for his manic free-range style, and for characters like Maude Fricker, Winters made a name for himself during the 1950's on his own comedy shows, and again during the 1960's and 70's when he was a favourite late night talk show guest, for the likes of Jack Paar and Johnny Carson.

Despite his deep, commanding voice (which later in life got him a considerable amount of voice work, most recently as Papa Smurf in 2011's The Smurfs, and the upcoming Smurfs 2), and bulldog look, the rubberfaced comedian described himself as a big kid, always playing. Indeed, his bouncing-off-the-walls style of taking the smallest thing and milking it for everything it was worth, a style that directly inspired and mentored Robin Williams, was reminiscent of a child playing with toys, making it up as they go. Winters turned it into art.

Despite appearing in nearly 50 films and TV shows, scripted work was not where he was at his best, and to see the real power and talent of Winters at work, you have to look at his comedy sketches from the 50's, from his late night appearances, and his Grammy award winning albums. I think the best thing said about Winters came from Jack Paar, "If you were to ask me the funniest 25 people I've ever known, I'd say, 'Here they are - Jonathan Winters.'"
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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