Jonathan Winters (born November 11, 1925 in Dayton, Ohio) is an American comedic actor. His full birth name is Jonathan Harshman Winters III. He's descended from Valentine Winters, founder of the Winters National Bank in Dayton, Ohio, now part of JPMorgan Chase. After attending public school in Springfield, Ohio, Jonathan enlisted in the Marines at age 17 and served in the South Pacific during World War II. After his discharge he studied cartooning at Dayton Art Institute, where he met Eileen Schauder, whom he married in 1948. He began comedy routines and acting while studying at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.
Beginning as a stand-up comic with a madcap wildness, Winters recorded many classic comedy albums. Probably the best known of his characters from this period is Maudie Frickert, the seemingly sweet old lady with the barbed tongue. He was a favorite of Jack Paar and appeared frequently on his television programs.
Winters has now appeared in nearly 50 movies and several television shows, including particularly notable roles in the film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and dual roles of Henry Glenworthy and his dark, scheming brother, Rev. Wilbur Glenworthy, in the film adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One. His fellow comedians that starred with him in "Mad World", such as Arnold Stang, claimed that, in the long periods while they waited between scenes, Winters would entertain them for hours in their trailer by becoming any character that they would suggest to him.
In his "Archive of American Television Interview," Winters reported that he suffered a nervous breakdown and spent 8 months in a private mental hospital. Although he was not given a diagnosis while in the hospital he was later diagnosed with manic depression, or as it is known today, Bipolar disorder.
On television, he appeared in his own show The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters (1972-1974) and as Robin Williams's infant son in the television program Mork & Mindy. Robin Williams calls Jonathan Winters his idol and greatest influence. Winters has also done some wonderful dramatic work, as evidenced in the Twilight Zone episode "A Game of Pool" (episode # 3.5) 13 October 1961.
He was also the narrator in Frosty Returns and recorded Ogden Nash's The Carnival of the Animals poems to Camille Saint-SaĆ«ns' classical opus.
In 1999 he was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
Winters now lives near Santa Barbara, California, and is often seen browsing and hamming to the crowd at the antique show at the Ventura County fairgrounds. He spends time painting and has been presented in one-man shows of his art. In 1997 he published Winters' Tales: Stories and Observations for the Unusual. Other writings have followed, and he is said to be working on his autobiography.
In a 2005 interview on XM radio Bill Cosby called Mr. Winters "The King".