The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

April 12, 2013

Groundbreaking improv comic Jonathan Winters dies w/VIDEO

(Continued)

A devotee of Groucho Marx and Laurel and Hardy, Winters and his free-for-all brand of humor inspired Johnny Carson, Billy Crystal, Tracey Ullman and Lily Tomlin, among many others. But Williams and Carrey are his best-known followers.

Carson in particular lifted Winters' Maude Frickert character almost intact for the long-running Aunt Blabby character he portrayed on "The Tonight Show."

It was Williams, meanwhile, who helped introduce Winters to millions of new fans in 1981 as the son of Williams' goofball alien and his earthling wife in the final season of ABC's "Mork and Mindy."

The two often strayed from the script.

"The best stuff was before the cameras were on, when he was open and free to create," Williams once said. "Jonathan would just blow the doors off."

Winters' only Emmy was for best-supporting actor for playing Randy Quaid's father in the sitcom "Davis Rules" (1991). He was nominated again in 2003 as outstanding guest actor in a comedy series for an appearance on "Life With Bonnie."

He also won two Grammys: One for his work on "The Little Prince" album in 1975 and nother for his "Crank Calls" comedy album in 1996. He also won the Kennedy Center's second Mark Twain Prize for Humor in 1999, a year after Richard Pryor.

Winters was sought out in later years for his changeling voice, and he contributed to numerous cartoons and animated films. Fittingly, he played three characters in the "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" movie in 2000.

The Internet Movie Database website credits him as the voice of Papa in the forthcoming "The Smurfs 2" film. He continued to work almost to the end of his life, and to influence new generations of comics.

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