Beloved film and TV actor Jonathan Winters passed away last night at the age of 87, at his home in Montecito, California. The comedian passed from natural causes while surrounded by friends and family members.
Born in 1925 in Dayton, Ohio, Jonathan Winters' career was launched after he won a talent contest, which lead to a local TV series in the early 1950s. He became a fixture on the stand up comedy circuit and on The Tonight Show, where he was a favorite of hosts Jack Paar and Johnny Carson. He also made many appearances on The Carol Burnett Show and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. He launched his own series The Jonathan Winters Show in 1967.
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He most recently provided the voice of Papa Smurf in the 2011 animated comedy The Smurfs and the forthcoming sequel The Smurfs 2, a role which he took over from Don Messick in 1986, on the original Smurfs animated Saturday morning series. He was also a regular performer for NFL Films segments, where he played several characters including Maude Frickett.
Jonathan Winters was the subject of the 2007 documentary Certifiably Jonathan, which found the comedian trying to regain his comedic spark. He will last be seen in the theatrical comedy Big Finish, which also stars such classic comedic icons as Jerry Lewis, Don Rickles, Bob Newhart, Garrett Morris, and Tim Conway as a group of retirement home buddies who attempt to save their facility from being replaced by a casino. It is expected to be released in late 2014.
The actor is survived by his children Jay Winters and Lucinda Winters.