PERFORMERS: JONATHAN WINTERS

Born: November 11 1925

(text by Peter Tatchell, from LAUGH MAGAZINE #20, 1999)

jwintersVocal chameleon Jonathan Winters has been delighting audiences with his crazy characters and off-beat humour since the 1950s. A master of weird sound effects and purveyor of human foibles, his stock in trade is to create whole scenes by playing all the parts.

One specialty is to send up popular movie genres … westerns, horror stories, jungle pictures, anything that will allow his fertile mind full rein. He enjoys the dangers of improvisation … to go off on a strange tangent and see what can be exploited. The fruits of these journeys have been such classic characters as decrepit but feisty Maude Frickert and the dour hayseed Elwood P. Suggins.

Born in Ohio in 1925, he first came to prominence as guest on the talk shows of Steve Allen and Jack Paar (and later became a firm favourite with Johnny Carson). In 1956 N.B.C. gave him his own 15-minute programme to harness his extraordinary talents, but he was more at home in  front of a night club audience or appearing with Dean Martin or Andy Williams on their variety shows.

In early 1960, Winters was signed by M.G.M.’s Verve records, who issued highlights from one of his successful Las Vegas nightclub appearances. It was the start of a very profitable arrangement for the company (which would eventually release another five albums featuring the artist, and then repackage favourite routines to form a further four “best of” LPs).
Also in 1960, Jonathan visited Britain and starred in a half-hour special called You’re Invited for Granada commercial television. Back in the U.S. he hosted a handful of N.B.C. 60-minute specials over the next few years before C.B.S. signed him for his own variety series which ran for a couple of seasons between 1967 and 1969. The comedian was also seen in front of the movie cameras, notably in It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming.

Winters was back on the small screen in the early seventies for a syndicated series of half-hours called The Wacky World Of Jonathan Winters (52 editions, 1972-4). And a decade later, Jonathan’s influence on budding standup comedian Robin Williams resulted in his appearing as a regular in the final season of the latter’s hugely popular sitcom Mork And Mindy (as Mork’s son, Mearth).

In the mid-eighties, Winters expanded his reportoire of cabaret, television and movies when he ventured into print with a collection of short stories called Winters’ Tales (published by Random House) and in 1989 his friend Jim B. Smith transcribed dozens of phone conversations he’d recorded over the years under the title of After The Beep (Putnam/Perigee).

Now in his seventh decade of performing, Jonathan Winters is still a sought-after personality, happily delighting a third generation of fans spellbound by his fountain of imagination and creativity.

 

RECORDINGS

The Wonderful World Of Jonathan Winters
Verve LP V 15009, Laugh.com CD LGH 1103
Introduction – Flying Saucer
Western
Football Game
Airline Pilots
Used Pet Shop
Hip Robin Hood
Super Service Station
Marine Corps

Down To Earth
Verve LP V 15011
Horror Movies
The Amateur Show
Commercials
Great White Hunter
Scratchy
Broadway Musical
Interviews
Prison Scene

Here’s Jonathan
Verve LP V 15025
Opening
Test Flight
Billy The Kid
New Flying Saucer
Opening
Oldest Airline Stewardess – Maudie Frickert
Child Psychiatrist
Thoughts Of A Turtle

Another Day, Another World
Verve LP V 15032
Opening – California
Igor And The Monster
The Lost Island
New Frontiers
Civil War
T.V. Commercials And American In Paris
Moon Map And Ivy Leaguer
Human Torpedo
Sail Cat
My School Days

Humor Seen Through The Eyes Of Jonathan Winters
Verve LP V 15035 (1963)
Hungry i Opening
Moby Dick And Captain Arnold
Elwood P. Suggins’ Automobile
Dr. Werner – German Scientist
S.S. Robert E. Lee
Chief Running Fox
Maudie Frickert And The Funeral
International Folk Singers:
Terry Thai (Thailand)
Lonesome Tom (Western)
Ivan Korkoffskinovki (Russian)

Whistle-Stopping With Jonathan Winters
Verve LP V 15037
The Extreme Liberal (Lance Lovegard)
The American Farmer (Elwood P. Suggins)
The American Housewife (Sally Sweetwater)
The Ultra Conservative (Mr. Tick Bitterford)
The American Teenager (Melvin Gohard)
The American Labor Leader (Billy Bigbody)
Old Age Speaks Out (Maudie Frickert)
The American Indian (Chief Crying Trout)
Grand Old Man (Price Boothcourt)
Presidential Nominee (Douglas Diddle)

Jonathan Winters Wings It
Columbia LP CL 2811/CS 9611, Laugh.com CD LGH 1058
Necking In A ’38 Ford
The Deer Hunters
The Shy Guy Returns A Toaster
King Kwazi – Of Kwaziland
Japenese Gardener
Audience Improvisation
Maudie Frickert On The Freeway
The Traffic Cop
The Used Car Salesman
The Sports Reporter And Bombing
Man On The Phone
The Health Club
The Student And The Professor
The Wedding Night
The Hippie Haircut
Maudie Frickert Explains The Birds And The Bees
Sound Improvisations
Closing

Stuff ‘N Nonsense
Columbia CS 9799, Laugh.com CD LGH 1059
Intro. By Chester Honeyhugger
Heart Transplant
John Wayne Landing On The Moon
Unusual Sounds
A Mouse Just Caught In A Trap
Mother Says “No”
Maudie Frickert In Dog Fight With The Red Baron
Male Elephant Wrapping A Present
Hippies
Shoe Clerk
Maudie Frickert On Motorcycle – Asking For A Date – Funshirt
The Abominable Snowman
President Nixon’s First Day In Office
Gorilla Drafted Into The Marine Corps
Maudie Frickert’s Nursery School
Country Doctor Delivering A Baby
Astronauts Going To The Moon
Chester Honeyhugger As An Elevator Operator
Hijack To Cuba
John Wayne Protecting The Fort
General Custer
Maudie Frickert On First Night Of Honeymoon
Elderly Gentleman Seeing A Flying Saucer
Chester Honeyhugger Asking For A Date

Jonathan Winters Tells The Stories of Peter And The Wolf and The Carnival Of The Animals
E.M.I. CD CDC 7 49918 2 (1989)

Jonathan Winters Reads Paul Bunyan
Rabbit Ears Productions CD WD 0717 (1990)

The Best Of Jonathan Winters
Dove Audio CD (no number) (1993)
contains 25 untitled tracks

Crank Calls
Audio Select/The Publishing Mills CD 80010 (1995)
We’re Only Visitors
Dr. Death
Blue Fox To Red Beaver
The Bunny Song
Ross Perot Calling Every American
Do You Have Your PTL Card?
The Old Homestead
In Harm’s Way
Together
A Violent Elderly Person
St. Vitus’ Dance
Flood Waters
Mitch
Flush Your Mind
Sprinkling System
Going To Branson
Where Are You?
Storm Center
Fourth Of July
Too Smart For The Room
No Names Or Numbers
This Is Very Sad
I’ll Get Back To You
The Deficit
Magical Tour
Return The Call
I Don’t Get It
See You On The Airwaves

Jonathan Winters / Gary Owens – Outpatients
Laugh.com CD LGH 1011 (2001)
Sports Fan
Plastic Surgeon
Jimmy Stewart
Ebay
Amazing Dog
Johnny Carson
Shutterbug Sam
Travel Agent
Schwarzenegger
Firearms
Hotel Manager
Maude’s Nursery
John Wayne

Old Folks
Déjà vu CD single (no number) (2006)

The Ghost Brigade
Déjà vu CD single (no number ) (2008)

Final Approach
Uproar CD UP 3904-2 (2011)
100 Year Old Man
Animal Trainer
Country Western Singer
English Poet
700lb Man
French Movie Director
Maude Frickert
Pope’s Haberdasher
Swedish Bowler
Leading Terrorists
Test Pilot
Mountain Climber

 

the following releases feature previously issued material

Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
Verve LP V 15041
Oldest Airline Stewardess – Maudie Frickert
Moby Dick And Captain Arnold
Football Game
Chief Running Fox
Hip Robin Hood
Marine Corps
Used Pet Shop
Great White Hunter
My School Days
Prison Scene

Great Moments Of Comedy With Jonathan Winters
Verve LP V 15047
New Flying Saucer
Hip Robin Hood
Prison Scene
 Oldest Airline Stewardess
Super Service Station
Broadway Musical
Football Game
Great White Hunter
Western

The Best Of Maudie Frickert And Elwood P. Suggins
Verve LP V 15052
New Flying Saucer (Maude and Elwood)
Old Age Speaks Out (Maude)
The Oldest Airline Stewardess (Maude)
Elwood P. Suggins Automobile
The American Farmer (Elwood)
Flying Saucer (Elwood)

Movies Are Better Than Ever
Verve LP V 15057
Horror Movies
The Lost Island
Scratchy
Great White Hunter
Prison Scene
Moby Dick And Captain Arnold
Hip Robin Hood
Igor And The Monster

Jonathan Winters And Friends Laugh … Live
Columbia 2LP KG 31985 (1973)
reissue of Jonathan Winters Wings It and Stuff ‘N Nonsense

 

 

TELEVISION

The Jonathan Winters Show
NBC October 2 1956 to June 25 1957 (15 min)

Jonathan Winters specials
NBC November 9 1964, February 1 1965, May 10 1965, February 1 1968

The Jonathan Winters Show
CBS December 27 1967 to May 1 1969 (45 x 1 hour)

The Wacky World Of Jonathan Winters
syndicated 1972 (52 x 30 min)

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