Jonathan Winters, Funny Man And Comedic Inspiration, Dies At 87

Jonathan Winters as a truck driver

Jonathan Winters as a truck driver (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jonathan Winters, the rubber-faced comedian whose unscripted flights of fancy inspired a generation of improvisational comics, and who kept television audiences in stitches with Main Street characters like Maude Frickert, a sweet-seeming grandmother with a barbed tongue and a roving eye, died on Thursday at his home in Montecito, Calif.  He was 87.

His death was announced on his Web site, JonathanWinters.com.

Mr. Winters, a rotund man whose face had a melancholy basset-hound expression in repose, burst onto the comedy scene in the late 1950s and instantly made his mark as one of the funniest, least definable comics in a rising generation that included Mort Sahl, Shelley Berman and Bob Newhart.

Mr. Winters was at his best when winging it, confounding television hosts and luckless straight men with his rapid-fire delivery of bizarre observations uttered by characters like Elwood P. Suggins, a Midwestern Everyman, or one-off creations like the woodland sprite who bounded onto Jack Paar’s late-night show and simperingly proclaimed: “I’m the voice of spring.  I bring you little goodies from the forest.”

Read more:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/13/arts/television/jonathan-winters-comedian-dies-at-87.html?hp&_r=0

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