With the passing Thursday and public announcement yesterday of classic movie and TV comedian Jonathan Winters, we thought we’d post a few clips of some our favorite bits of his unique humor. In countless interviews Robin Williams counted Winters as his comedic inspiration, both men at the top of the world of improvisation. Born in Dayton, Ohio in 1925, Winters went on to serve in the Marines in World War II. His first TV appearance was on Chance of a Lifetime in 1954, and his 15-minute variety show The Jonathan Winters Show on October 23, 1956, sponsored by Tums for RCA on the NBC network included the first color video ever to appear on television. That’s right, it was Jonathan Winters who brought color to the TV-viewing world.
Every generation who watched TV encountered Winters in some way. He led the second generation of modern American comedic actors, following The Marx Brothers and Laurel and Hardy. He was known by some as the Hefty garbage man and by others for his recurring bit as Maude Frickert. Like many comedians in his and later generations, he released many comedy albums on LPs. In 1961 Winters first entered the world of sci-fi TV in The Twilight Zone episode “A Game of Pool” with Jack Klugman. He appeared in more than 50 movies and guest starred and starred on many TV shows in his 60 years as an actor, including repeated appearances in every major variety and talk show over the years.