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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

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91.

Judy    

RIP Jonathan...you gave us many funny moments. You will surely be missed.

502 days ago
92.

David B.    

Seriously? He had a long distinguished career and the headline reads Mork and Mindy star? The list of stars he appeared with in "It's a Mad Mad Mad World" alone, lend credence to the caliber of talent this man had and the company he kept. God's Speed Jonathan, the pain in my side from laughing so hard at your antics was pleasurable! Your home now with the rest of The Greatest Generations Entertainers.

502 days ago
93.

Chingis    

I knew Johnny would pass away relatively soon... Such grief after his wife's passing,his last interviews which I collected demonstrated a stage in life which most come to, an acceptance. Yet he N E V E R gave up the struggle, which is common to us.
His appearance in Mad Mad Mad Mad World was beyond incredible. I was glad Robin sort of revived him with such respect and admiration, after such difficulties getting the break in the fifties, then living the legend so long. I knew that this day would come sooner than later, likely perhaps even, this year and still I am devastated. Thank you for memorializing this giant of greater than life comedy.
All the best always, Chingis

502 days ago
94.

bones1212    

I remember him on Johnny Carson, and all the TV shows he did but on Carson he would really let loose and you would laugh till you cried and so did Johnny...very funny man...he will be missed.

502 days ago
95.

D    

Who wrote this article, a child? He was extremely well know way before Mork and Mindy. Amazing how ignorant this writer and TMZ are!!

502 days ago
96.

Hannah    

I adored him as a kid.He was on so many shows and was so funny!! RIP Jonathan!!!

502 days ago
97.

EL    

This is sad news. He was a very fun comic to watch and highly talented. So much of our childhood is disappearing fast. Goodbye Mr. Winters! Thanks.

At least his family and friends were with him.

502 days ago
98.

Bob    

So sad. I remember seeing him on a talk show a few years ago mentioning that his wife was very ill, and then read that she had passed away a short time later. I'm sure they are happily together again now. My thoughts and condolences to his family and friends.

502 days ago
99.

Hannah    

Roger Ebert died first so Jonathan is the 4 th one.

502 days ago
100.

Nomor Artie    

"Mork and Mindy star". How about "Ground-Breaking Comic Legend"? The headline writer must be about 13 years old.

502 days ago
101.

maverick    

deaths come in 3s, roger ebert,annett funicello,and jonathan winters.

502 days ago
102.

Tom    

I had the pleasure to meet and visit with Mr. Winters in Steamboat, Colorado. His daughter was at summer camp there. He made my sides hurt from laughter. He was brilliant. The movie, Mad Mad World, was wonderful due to Mr. Winters.

502 days ago
103.

NANCAN    

He was much more than a "Mork & Mindy" star. He had a brillant career long before that insipid show. Thanks for the memories, Mr. Winters.

502 days ago
104.

r2d2    

Trully a comic genius.

502 days ago
105.

Red Sam Rackham    

Once wile seated next to Bette Davis on the Tonight Show, Winters launched into his Bette Davis impression saying "Petah Petah Petah!" & Ms. Davis responded icily "Oh, go to hell!"

502 days ago
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