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Jonathan Winters

Dead at 87

4/12/2013 9:40 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

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Jonathan Winters
, the comedic film and TV actor who was huge in the '70s and '80s on shows like "Mork and Mindy," has died at age 87 ... TMZ has learned.

Winters died last night of natural causes in Montecito, Calif, around 6:30 p.m., surrounded by friends and family.

Winters' career began when he won a talent contest, which led to radio gigs and appearances at comedy clubs. He was a staple on the late night TV circuit for decades -- he was one of Jack Paar's favorite guests and a Johnny Carson regular -- and recorded several classic comedy albums.

He often performed in character ... the best known of which was Maude Frickert, the seemingly sweet old lady with a quick and acid wit.  He also starred in one of the best comedies ever -- "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World."

Winters suffered 2 nervous breakdowns in the late '50s and early '60s and was voluntarily institutionalized.  He was diagnosed with manic depression. He spoke openly about it and even joked about it in his comedy act.

Winters -- who was Native American -- won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, which was presented to him at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in 2000.



Winters appeared in nearly 50 films and TV shows ... and was a regular on the Saturday morning children's television program "Hot Dog" in the '70s.

He co-starred with Robin Williams as Mearth -- Mork and Mindy's son ... who was hatched from an egg and aged backwards. Think Benjamin Button ... but funny.





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258 COMMENTS

No Avatar
31.

LL    

Mearth was always a bit of a Scrappy to me personally, but that's not to say that the man who played him was not a very talented actor. He was, and he'll be missed.

561 days ago
32.

leslippe    

Comic actor? I think the word you were looking for is, genius...
So long Maudie!

561 days ago
33.

CLINT    

He always made me laugh. Never heard any bad things about him, even when he was hanging around Dean Martin and other rat packers in Las Vegas.What a great thing to do, going through your entire life making people laugh. RIP JW.

561 days ago
34.

great granny    

Loved Johathan Winters. He was a real hoot. He has and will be missed. rip

561 days ago
35.

jktejas    

His comedy was satire and he was brilliant at it. No matter who was on screen with him, he literally "chewed the scenery." RIP Johnny.....and thanks for all the laughter.

561 days ago
36.

Kathy    

looked like my dad....tears!

561 days ago
37.

Randy Stubbs    

One of a kind! A man that touched so many lives with laughter. We love you and will miss you.

561 days ago
38.

IceGypsy    

He was a brilliant funny man. Thanks for all the laughs...RIP

561 days ago
39.

Smitty    

He was extremely popular in the 60s too. Why dd they just mention the 70s and 80s?

561 days ago
40.

Carl    

RIP. Too bad he kind of dropped out of sight after the 80s, most people under 30 missed out on his greatness. He was one of my favorite comedic actors growing up.

561 days ago
41.

Kathy    

Looked like my Dad...tears

561 days ago
42.

IMHO    

From simple beginnings, giants grow.

Thank you for all the laughs.

Say hi to my father.

561 days ago
43.

Rita Hestand    

This was one funny man. I loved to listen to him, and loved his female character too. Some of the best funny men are gone. I will miss him. God Bless

561 days ago
44.

PureRadiance    

A true legend! Comedic hero. R.I.P.

561 days ago
45.

TOM HOLLEMAN    

God Bless Him... R I P ...

561 days ago
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