RIP Jonathan Winters: A True Original Passes On (11 April 2013)


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I first saw Jonathan Winters in the 1969 film Viva Max. He played General Billy Joe Hallson, a good ole boy, redneck Army National Guard soldier who is tasked with re-taking the Alamo from  Mexican General Maximilian Rodrigues De Santos (played to perfection by Peter Usinov).

Winters had me in hysterics in his role as the ineffectual part-time soldier who couldn’t order eggs properly, let alone his men. Not long after, I saw him in It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (the star-studded comedy that boasted Spencer Tracy among its cast) and The Russians are Coming! The Russians are coming!

I thought he was a brilliant comic actor and had no idea he was a comedian until later. And what a comedian.

Jonathan Winters was Robin Williamsbefore Robin Williams was. Winters not only was the master of “impromptu” comedy but he had a cornucopia of characters living inside him that he could trot out at the drop of a hat; and often did.

Maudie Frickett was one of my favourites. Winters in an old lady’s hair bun could reduce me to tears of laughter with one word.

Winters was a master at creating funny characters and he was the man who Robin Williams said was his inspiration. The world got a special treat when Winters appeared in Williams’ Mork and Mindy show as Mork’s son. A new generation got to learn of this master comedian.

Jonathan Winters was a true original and a wearer of many hats. Yes he was a comic actor, but he could do serious roles as well, although not very often.  He was, though, the best of the best when it came to comedy of any sort.

You often hear the phrase, “They don’t make em like that anymore.” And in reference to Jonathan Winters, it is true.

A true original passes on and we’ll not see the likes of Mr Winters or Maudie Frickett again.

RIP Jonathan Winters.

Jonathan 'Maudie Frickett' Winters (November 11, 1925 – April 11, 2013)
Jonathan ‘Maudie Frickett’ Winters (November 11, 1925 – April 11, 2013)

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

9 thoughts on “RIP Jonathan Winters: A True Original Passes On (11 April 2013)”

  1. Mr. Winters was one of the very few people who could make me laugh by just showing up. On a recent PBS profile of Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman was talking about how funny people use their tragedy to create comedy. Jonathan Winters had his demons but the lasting image is a man who always kept you laughing.

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    1. He was so funny because his mind had no restrictions. He was always teetering on the brink of insanity.., which he talked about freely. I too was a big fan and will miss him immensely. Lets not forget Willard kretchlow (or was that Krotchlow), Maudy’s nephew who thought he could fly…

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  2. So true. He was a real pioneer. He will be missed. BTW, the TCM Film Fest in couple of weeks will be screening ‘It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World’ at the Cinerama Dome. I’ll try and take it in again in his honor.

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