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Jonathan Harshman Winters III (November 11, 1925 – April 11, 2013) was an American comedian, actor, author, and artist.
Remember Jonathan Winters! Light Your Candle!
Beginning 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 nominations for Grammy Award 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 1976 and the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Comedy Album for Crank(y) Calls in 1996.
With a career spanning more than six decades, Winters 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 It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
After voicing Grandpa Smurf on The Smurfs (1986–89) and Papa Smurf in The Smurfs (2011 film), Winters’s final feature film was The Smurfs 2 in 2013, which is dedicated in his memory.
A pioneer of improvisational stand-up comedy with a gift for mimicry, impersonations, various personalities, and a seemingly bottomless reservoir of creative energy, Winters was one of the first celebrities to go public with a personal mental illness issue and felt stigmatized as a result. According to Jack Paar, “If you were to ask me the funniest 25 people I’ve ever known, I’d say, ‘Here they are—Jonathan Winters.’” He also said of Winters, “Pound for pound, the funniest man alive.”
In 1991 Winters earned an Emmy Award for his supporting role in Davis Rules. In 1999 Winters was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. In 2002 he earned an Emmy nomination as a guest star in a comedy series for Life With Bonnie. In 2008 Winters was presented with a Pioneer TV Land Award by Robin Williams.
Winters died of natural causes on April 11, 2013, in Montecito, California, surrounded by family and friends, at the age of 87. He is survived by his two children, Jay Winters and Lucinda Winters, and five grandchildren.
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 Jonathan Winters on social media after his death, including Patton Oswalt, Steve Martin, Pee-wee Herman, Steve Carell, Roseanne Barr, Jimmy Kimmel, Albert Brooks, Robert Klein, Kathy Griffin, Ruth Buzzi, Dane Cook, Keith Olbermann, David Arquette, French Stewart, Kevin Pollak, Joel McHale, Michael McKean, Greg Grunberg, Kelly Monteith and Rosie O'Donnell, among others. 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.”
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