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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
46.

co    

man, that guy was funny! and for SO long too!
rest in peace sir!

467 days ago
47.

Joe LeBlanc    

this guy was a rare talent, he was a natural, spontaneous that so many followed and tried to copy to include myself. Wow i though he was already gone. RIP

467 days ago
48.

JV    

HILARIOUS GENTLEMAN, GENIUS, ONE OF A KIND!! OUR LOSS! THANK YOU MR. WINTERS FOR BEING YOU!

467 days ago
49.

rob    

RIP. One of the funniest guys ever.

467 days ago
50.

rob    

Life can be tough. He made it better for millions, by making us laugh. I call his life a total success. Thank you Jonathan.

467 days ago
51.

kellie    

RIP Mr Winters. The world is a lot less funny because you are no longer here.

467 days ago
52.

Rob    

One of the all time greats for sure. One of a kind and will be surely missed.

467 days ago
53.

pierre    

A true genius and one of the funniest !!! RIP

467 days ago
54.

Rosemary Hopkins    

Jonathan Winters talent will never been surpassed. His comedy made everyone laugh. The angles will get some show tonight.

467 days ago
55.

jojotato68    

He will be missed by many!

467 days ago
56.

CloBird    

Another childhood icon gone... RIP.

467 days ago
57.

Cookie    

Truly one the funniest !!! U'll be missed Hert felt wishes for his friends & family

467 days ago
58.

SimplyHappy    

A genuinely funny guy, I loved watching him on TV. He sure brought a lot of laughter to my home, I can still hear my dad laughing when we watched It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. Thanks for the great memories Sir! My thoughts and prayers to his family, friends and fans...R.I.P. Jonathan Winters

467 days ago
59.

Phil    

What a gift he was to comedy.

467 days ago
60.

Rich    

I had a friend back in the sixties whose father went to Junior High School with Winters. He told us a great story. Winters tried out for the Junior High football team and appeared to the coach to be a good enough player to be a starter. That didn't last long though. During the games when the players were in the huddle with Winters, he would start doing hilarious voices and the players would all be laughing. He soon became a bench warmer instead of a starter.

467 days ago
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