The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Entertainment

April 12, 2013

Groundbreaking improv comic Jonathan Winters dies

(Continued)

LOS ANGELES —

Williams helped introduce Winters to 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."

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

"Beyond funny. He invented a new category of comedic genius," comedian Albert Brooks tweeted Friday.

In other Twitter posts, Richard Lewis called Winters "the greatest improvisational comedian of all time" and Roseanne Barr added "a genius has vacated this realm."

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 another for his "Crank Calls" comedy album in 1996.

"I knew him for 55 years and he's always been silly, every moment of his life," veteran announcer Gary Owens, who collaborated with Winters on four comedy albums, recalled warmly Friday in an interview with the AP.

He spoke by phone with him just two days ago, Owens said, and although frail, Winters still broke into a routine in which he was being pecked in the head by a pet peregrine falcon he claimed to keep by his bed.

Winters received the Kennedy Center's second Mark Twain Prize for Humor in 1999, a year after Richard Pryor.

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