Gifted comedian Jonathan Winters has died of natural causes at age 87, reports Variety. My fondest memories of him are Stanley Kramer’s antic road comedy “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” and Norman Jewison’s “The Russians
Are Coming the Russians Are Coming,” but of course this under-appreciated comic artist did much more. See clips below.
Winters released several popular comedy albums and was a regular guest through the 50s, 60s and 70s on TV variety and talk shows from Johnny Carson, Steve Allen and Garry Moore to Jack Paar, who called Winters “pound for pound, the funniest man alive.” The radio dj, stand-up comedian and gifted mimic inspired the improvisational comedy of comics ranging from Steve Martin to Robin Williams, whose son he played on the last season of ABC’s “Mork and Mindy.”
He starred in several of own variety shows in the 60s and 70s, and is also remembered for his dramatic performances in 1961’s “The Twilight Zone” episode “A Game of Pool” opposite Jack Klugman, and Tony Richardson satire “The Loved
One,” adapted by Terry Southern from the novel by Evelyn Waugh.
His career was interrupted by bouts with manic depression (bipolar disorder), with which he went public. Late in his career he voiced many toon characters on TV and film, such as “The Smurfs.” In the 80s he appeared in Paul Mazursky’s “Moon Over Parador,” and went on to star in “The Flintstones” (1994) and “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle” (2000.)
Winters accepted the second Mark Twain Prize for Humor at the Kennedy Center in 1999.