Jonathan Winters (November 11, 1925 – April 11, 2013) was a character actor, author, artist and comedian whom star Robin Williams referred to as his idol and mentor.
eginning in 1960, Winters recorded many classic comedy albums for the Verve Records label. He also had records released every decade for over 50 years, receiving 11 Grammy nominations for Best Comedy Album during his career and winning a Grammy Award for Best Album for Children for his contribution to an adaptation of The Little Prince in 1975 and the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Comedy Album for Crank(y) Calls in 1996. Onstage and off, Winters was wildly unpredictable. Often viewed by some producers as a liability, it led to a scattershot, though still quite memorable, film career. On television, his two self-titled variety shows displayed him in dazzling form as a sketch comic and impersonator.
With a career spanning more than six decades, Winters also appeared in hundreds of television show episodes/series and films combined, including eccentric characters on The Steve Allen Show, The Garry Moore Show, The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters (1972–74), Mork & Mindy, Hee Haw, and the 1963 comedy film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. He also voiced Grandpa Smurf on NBC-TV's The Smurfs animated TV series from 1986 to the show's conclusion in 1989. Over twenty years later, Jonathan was introduced to a new generation through voicing Papa Smurf in the animated feature films The Smurfs (2011) and The Smurfs 2 (2013). Winters died nine days after recording his dialogue for The Smurfs 2; the film was dedicated in his memory.
In 1991, Jonathan won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for playing Gunny Davis in the short-lived sitcom Davis Rules. 1999 saw Winters became the 2nd recipient of the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. In 2002, he was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his performance as Q.T. Marlens on Life with Bonnie. Winters was presented with a Pioneer TV Land Award by Robin Williams in 2008.
Winters also spent time painting and presenting his artwork, including silkscreens and sketches, in many gallery shows. He authored several books. His book of short stories, titled Winters' Tales (1988), made the bestseller lists.
Jonathan died of natural causes on the evening of April 11, 2013, in Montecito, California at the age of 87. He was survived by his two children, Jay Winters and Lucinda Winters, and five grandchildren. He was cremated and his ashes were given to his family.
Fans of Winters placed flowers on his Hollywood Walk of Fame star on April 12, 2013 at 1:30 p.m.
Many comedians, actors, and friends gave personal tributes about Winters on social media shortly after his death. Robin Williams posted, "First he was my idol, then he was my mentor and amazing friend. I'll miss him huge. He was my Comedy Buddha. Long live the Buddha." In September 2013, at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, Williams would again honor the career and life of Winters.
- ↑ Grimes, Jonathan. "Jonathan Winters, Unpredictable Comic and Master of Improvisation, Dies at 87", The New York TImes (NYTimes.com).
- ↑ Robin Williams, Steve Martin and more pay tribute to Jonathan Winters - MSN TV News. Tv.msn.com. Retrieved on April 15, 2013.
- ↑ "Comedians pay tribute to Jonathan Winters", Usatoday.com, June 8, 2008. Retrieved on April 15, 2013.
- ↑ Pond, Steve. Steve Martin, Steve Carell, Pee-wee Herman Pay Tribute to 'Celestially Brilliant' Jonathan Winters - Yahoo! TV. Tv.yahoo.com. Retrieved on April 15, 2013.
- ↑ FoxNews. Fox News. Retrieved on October 20, 2014.