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Jonathan Winters, comedian, dies at age 87

April 12, 2013 12:07:51 AM PDT
Jonathan Winters, legendary comedian and improvisation master, died at his home in Montecito at the age of 87, a longtime family friend said Friday.

At the Laugh Factory in Hollywood, the marquee reads, "Jonathan Winters, Rest in Peace, Make God Laugh."

"I've been in Laugh Factory business for 34 years. I never seen anybody as talented and brilliant for doing improvisation and standup (comedy) as he was," said Jamie Masada, founder of the Laugh Factory.

Winters created an incredibly original comic style, switching from one character to the next. His routines were packed with non sequiturs and surreal jokes. His breakneck improvisations inspired Robin Williams, Jim Carrey and many others.

"First he was my idol, then he was my mentor and amazing friend. I'll miss him huge. He was my Comedy Buddha. Long live the Buddha," Williams Tweeted.

Winters was born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1925. After serving in World War II, he worked in small-market radio before doing stand-up comedy in New York and earning spots on "The Tonight Show."

"Jonathan Winters was the worthy custodian of a sparkling and childish comedic genius. He did God's work. I was lucky 2 know him," Jim Carrey Tweeted.

In the mid-1950s, "The Jonathan Winters Show" pioneered the then-new videotape technology on to do stunts such as showing up as two characters on screen together.

In the final season of ABC's "Mork and Mindy" in 1981, Winters was introduced to millions of new fans as the son of Williams' goofball alien.

"Johnny and I started out together," said actress Carol Burnett. "He was a genius and a brilliant artist and two of his paintings are hanging in my home."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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