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 Williams, before 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.
- Film: Newswire: R.I.P. Jonathan Winters (avclub.com)
- Comedian Jonathan Winters dead at 87 (al.com)
- Comedian Jonathan Winters dead at 87 (tribunetvpreprod.wordpress.com)
- Actor Jonathan Winters dead, associate says (news.blogs.cnn.com)
- Actor Jonathan Winters dead at 87 (cnn.com)
- Jonathan Winters dies: ‘Mork and Mindy’ star was 87 (examiner.com)
- Comic Jonathan Winters Dead (newser.com)
- Comic Jonathan Winters Dies at 87 – ABC News (abcnews.go.com)
- R.I.P. Jonathan Winters (deadline.com)
- Jonathan Winters Dead At 87 (contactmusic.com)