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Jonathan Winters

by Dawbfan

Jonathan Winters was born on November 11, 1925 in Dayton, Ohio. His father, Jonathan was an investment broker and his mother, Alice Kilgore was a Springfield, Ohio, radio personality. After his parents divorced, he spent most of his childhood with his mother. At an early age, he developed a talent for imitating movie sound effects, doing impersonations, and being able to improvise. After high school, he joined the Marine Corps at the age of seventeen. After serving two-and-a-half years in the South Pacific during WWII, he attended the Dayton Art Institute for two years. Although he hoped to pursue a career as a cartoonist, he held down a variety of jobs before trying his luck in show business. After winning a talent contest, he landed a disc-jockey position at a Dayton radio station. Although his job description called only for him to introduce records and read news and weather reports, his ad-libbed remarks and menagerie of strange voices quickly began dominating his weekday broadcasts.

Jonathan Winters’s psychological problems and his dependency on alcohol resulted in a well-publicized stay at a sanatorium in the early 1960’s, but he emerged clean and sober and continued to build a successful film, television, and nightclub career. He was one of the few entertainers to star in a totally adlibbed weekly television series, “The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters” (1972). In April 1981, Winters made a guest appearance on “Mork and Mindy” during its third season, playing Mindy’s Uncle Dave. (Robin Williams had been a lifelong fan of Winters and considered Winters his mentor and inspiration). In Mork and Mindy’s fourth and final season, Winters became a regular cast member playing Mork and Mindy’s infant son, Mearth, who was half earthling-half orkan, weighed two hundred and twenty-five pounds, and looked middle-aged. When the series ended, he continued acting in movies and on television.

Winters’ credits include: “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, “The Loved One”, “Viva Max!”, and “The Flintstones”. He won an Emmy Award for his supporting role in another sitcom, “Davis Rules”. A collection of his short stories, “Winters’ Tales”, made the best-seller lists in 1987 and the following year he published a book of his paintings, “Hang-Ups”. He won a Grammy for his album Crank Calls (1995). He has also done voice over work in numerous cartoons: The Smurfs, The Little Prince, The Christmas Carol, Paul Bunyan, Little Dracula, Ed Grimley Show, and Peter and The Wolf.

Actor Rod Steiger characterized Winters as “one of the most gifted improvisatory minds in existence” and he was once described by talk-show host Jack Paar as “pound for pound, the funniest man alive.” For many years, Winters served as honorary chairman of the National Congress of American Indians, and in 1999 he was presented with the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for his contributions to American humor.

Winters has been married to Eileen Ann Schauder since September 11, 1948. They have two children: Jonathan IV, and Lucinda Kelley.

Jonathan Winters Quotes:

“If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to it!”
“Nothing is impossible. Some things are just less likely than others”.
“I couldn't wait for success, so I went ahead without it.”
“Don’t say mentor anymore I tell you why, in Ohio they think that’s a salve. Say idol, we all know that. See mentor’s a little cutie stuff.” (After Robin Williams referred to Winters as his mentor).

Career Highlights:

2003 Received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series- "Life with Bonnie"
2000 Was interview subject of Comedy Central's "Uncomfortably Close With Michael McKean: Jonathan Winters"
2000 Paid tribute in the special "Comedy Central Presents the Second Annual Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize Celebrating the Humor of Jonathan Winters"
2000 Played multiple roles in the combination live action-animated "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle"
1997 Voiced Santa in the ABC animated special "Santa vs the Snowman"
1995 Narrated the animated special "Frosty Returns" (CBS)
1993 Starred in "Jonathan Winters: Spaced Out" on Showtime
1992 Provided character voice for the ABC primetime animated series "Fish Police"
1989 Headlined "Showtime Presents: Jonathan Winters & Friends"
1987 Starred in first Showtime comedy special "Jonathan Winters: On the Ledge"
1985 Cast as Humpty Dumpty in the CBS miniseries adaptation of "Alice in Wonderland"
1980 Played one of the villains in the CBS miniseries "More Wild Wild West"
1979 Resumed film career with "The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh"
1976 Hosted and wrote "Jonathan Winters Presents 200 Years of American Humor" (NBC)
1972 Starred in the syndicated "The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters"
1970 Last film for nine years, "Viva Max!"
1970 Wrote and hosted "The Wonderful World of Jonathan Winters" (NBC)
1967 "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad"
1966 Offered comic support as a deputy in "The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming"
1966 Had three-minute cameo in "Penelope", a misguided comedy starring Natalie Wood
1965 Played twins in "The Loved One"
1965 Starred in an unscripted variety hour "The Jonathan Winters Show" (NBC)
1964 Headlined the NBC variety program "The Jonathan Winters Special"
1963 Film acting debut in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"
1961 Had second breakdown; spent eight months in a clinic; began taking lithium to treat bipolar disorder
1960 Feature debut, provided voice for the animated film "Saiyu-ki"
1959 Suffered first nervous breakdown; took two weeks off from performing
1956 - 1957 Hosted "The Jonathan Winters Show" (NBC)
1955 Was a regular on NBC's "And Here's the Show"
1953 Moved to NYC; began performing as a standup comedian in nightclubs like The Blue Angel
1946 Hired by a Dayton radio station as a disc jockey
Made sporadic appearances in films in the 1980s and 1990s, including "Moon Over Parador" (1988), "The Flintstones" (1994) and "The Shadow" (1994)
Had featured role as Randy Quaid's eccentric father in the sitcom "Davis Rules" (ABC, 1991; CBS 1991-1992); won 1991 Emmy Award
Returned to "The Andy Williams Show" as a regular for one season
Made guest appearances on series of variety specials starring Dean Martin
Was commercial spokesperson for Hefty garbage bags in a series of memorable TV commercials
Joined cast of the ABC sitcom "Mork and Mindy" in its final season playing Mork's son, Mearth
Encouraged by his wife, entered local talent contest which he won
Moved to Columbus and worked for three years at WBNS-TV
Made early TV appearance on "Talents Scouts"
Began to be featured on shows like "The Garry Moore Show", "The Jack Paar Show", "The Steve Allen Show" and "The Tonight Show"; introduced characters like the ribald senior citizen Maudie Frickert and Reportedly was the first comic to be featured on "Omninbus"
Was a regular on the NBC variety series "The Andy Williams Show"
Appeared as a guest in ten specials starring comedian Bob Hope
Starred in the CBS variety series "The Jonathan Winters Show"