Comic Actor Jonathan Winters Dies

by 10:05 AM PDT, April 12, 2013
Photo: Getty Images

Longtime Hollywood actor and comedian Jonathan Winters has died at age 87. 

Longtime family friend Joe Petro III told the Associated Press that the Ohio native died Thursday night at his Montecito, CA, home of natural causes. He was surrounded by family and friends.

"He was just a great friend and I was very lucky to be able to work with him for all the years I did," said Petro, an artist and print maker who collaborated with Winters for decades on numerous art projects. "We've lost a giant and we're really going to miss him."

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Winters -- who appeared in countless movies and TV shows over the years -- was known for his improvisation skills and character creations that inspired A-list comic actors including Robin Williams, Jim Carrey and others.

In the mid-1950s, his The Jonathan Winters Show pioneered the emerging videotape technology that allowed stunts such as showing up as two characters on screen together.

Most recently, Winters voiced the Papa character in The Smurfs and the upcoming The Smurfs 2.