Jonathan Winters was 87 when he passed away on April 11, 2013. Here is an excellent article by J. Marlando called 'Comedians: The Great Masters'. Jonathan Winters is one of the first comedians that I remember and one of the best that made my parents laugh. I remember him specifically in a movie called It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World which debuted in 1963, a year after I was born. In this movie he plays 'Lennie Pike' a blue-collar worker who is one of many famous actors and comedians that are racing across the country.
This is a classic, high quality fun movie for a broad audience. The movie ran for nearly 3 hours, cost $9.4 million and made $46 million. Just about everyone in Hollywood had a role in this movie, Spencer Tracey, Milton Berle, Buddy Hackett, Sid Ceaser, Ethel Merman and Mickey Rooney to name a few, and even Jerry Lewis made a cameo drive by.
This movie was good clean fun, with these wonderful characters racing across the country in cars and planes and bicycles to find the stolen money first. The police were trying to figure out what was going on, enter Spencer Tracey. There are no special effects, no swearing, nudity, sex, killing, blood, horror, and no unimaginable super technology that is foreshadowed to understand the movie. This movie is a classic, a treasure in every way.
Jonathan Winters was a rare comedian that was clean. His improvisational skills were masterful, and these skills were seen regularly on TV as I grew up. He was a pleasure to see on Johnny Carson and stand up routines. When I was in college I remember Jonathan showing up on Mork & Mindy as the baby of Robin Williams and Pam Dawber. This was a great opportunity for Jonathan to show his improvisation skills as a baby. The video below from 1986 shows some great improv with Robin Williams on 60 Minutes.
It was great fun to laugh with my family, as we all enjoyed his unique humor. Thanks for the memories.