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Comedian Jonathan Winters Dead at 87

12 April 2013 10:22 AM, PDT | Variety - TV News | See recent Variety - TV News news »

Jonathan Winters, once described by “Tonight Show” host Jack Paar as “pound for pound, the funniest man alive” and a comedian whose freeform work with multiple voices and personalities presaged the antics of comics such as Robin Williams, died of natural causes Thursday in Montecito, Calif. at 87.

A pioneer of improvisational standup comedy, with an exceptional gift for mimicry, a grab bag of eccentric personalities and a bottomless reservoir of creative energy, he was introduced to millions of new fans in 1981 as the son of Williams’ goofball alien and his earthling wife in the final season of ABC’s “Mork and Mindy.” He appeared in numerous films including “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” and did extensive voice work on toons including “The Smurfs.”

Born Jonathan Harshman Winters III in Dayton, Ohio, Winters was raised mostly by his divorced mother, a radio personality in Springfield, Ohio, and showed an early gift for mimicry. »

- Carmel Dagan

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