Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Remembering Jonathan Winters

Jonathan Winters - 1925 - 2013
Photo Courtesy Wikipedia

The world lost a great comedian on Thursday, April 11 2013. Yes, I know this isn’t a writer, but this man had a gift for ad-libbing something funny at any time. The reason I am posting this is that I danced with Jonathan Winters at a dog show in Santa Barbara, Ca in the 1990’s. He, along with Bo Derek, and a few other celebrities attend this yearly event. At the time, I was selling a natural deodorizer and that was my reason for obtaining a booth in the show, in the first place.

When Mr.Winters came by my booth, he was interested in the products, stopped to look at them, and made many jokes. I saw him coming down the isle between the tents. He was joking around and thoroughly enjoying himself. I suspect he always enjoyed himself.

He asked me to dance with him after he looked at my products. Of course, my mouth dropped open, “is this for real,” but I obliged and we went dancing down the path and back to my booth. All the while, Jonathan Winters was joking and laughing. I will never forget this experience.

He was so genuine and such a happy guy. I read he entertained people wherever he went, even the tellers at his bank.

Jonathan Winters - Photo Courtesy Wikipedia

Here is a bit of history. Born on November 11, 1925 in Bellbrook, Ohio, Jonathan lived most of his adult life in the Santa Barbara area of CA. He was a big influence on Robin Williams and Jim Carrey, George Carlin and Bill Cosby, plus other comedians. He played many eccentric characters and appeared in hundreds of TV shows, and over fifty movies. Mr. Winters was a bottomless pit of creative energy and was a pioneer in the field of improvisational stand-up comedy. He had his own comedy TV show for a time, and was the voice for characters in many animated films.

He also liked to paint and exhibited his work in art galleries.  How many of you knew that?

Jonathan Winters - Photo Courtesy Wikipedia

I thought this was an interesting tidbit. Jonathan Winter’s career started because of a lost wristwatch. He was a newlywed at the time, and they couldn’t afford to buy another watch. His wife encouraged him to enter a comedy contest in which the prize was a wristwatch. He won the contest, got the wristwatch, and was on his way as the comedian he would become.

Jonathan Winters - Photo Courtesy Wikipedia

In 1959 and 1961, Mr. Winters found himself in a psychiatric hospital because of nervous breakdowns and bi-polar disorder. He didn’t keep this a secret and made mention of it, if he did his classic “flying saucer” routine.

Jonathan Winters was a man with a big heart, playing himself in a children’s TV series on PBS, in 1996, “Bloopy’s Buddies,” in which he encouraged children by teaching them about the benefits of good health through nutrition and exercise.

He leaves behind two children. His wife of sixty years died in 2009.

Here’s a video of some early days.

Jonathan Winters - Photo from TMZ

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