Jonathan Winters

Comedian


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his nearly two-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Jonathan Winters (1925-2013) reminisces about his early days in Ohio and New York and recalls some of his first television appearances on The Garry Moore Show and The Tonight Show, hosted by Steve Allen. Winters talks about the evolution of some of his well-known characters, including "Maude Frickert", "Elwood P. Suggins", and "King Kwasi", and discusses many of the well-known television personalities with whom he's worked during his career: Jack Paar, Andy Williams, Dean Martin, Bob Hope, and Johnny Carson. He discusses his roles on Mork & Mindy, Hee Haw, and Davis Rules and offers advice to those starting out in comedy. Dan Pasternack conducted the interview on October 11, 2002 in Santa Barbara, CA.

"You've got to study people. If you go to Actor's Studio, fine. If you take lessons from someone, fine. There are all kinds of workshops and comedy stores and dramatic workshops... but you must be an observer. You must look at everything around you."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Jonathan Winters on his "Maude Frickert" character
Jonathan Winters on advice to those starting out in comedy
Jonathan Winters on the special quality Johnny Carson brought to The Tonight Show
Jonathan Winters on what is "funny" and what the word means to him.
Jonathan Winters on the format of his first show, the 15-minute Jonathan Winters Show on NBC - which introduced his famous characters "Maude Frickert" and "Elwood P. Suggins"
Jonathan Winters on advice for creating characters
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early interests; on joining the Marines and serving in World War II; on his first comedic performance in the service
On life after the Marines; on going to art school and being asked to DJ at WING

Chapter 2

On his first job as a DJ at WING radio; on his troubled relationship with his father; on inventing characters for his radio show
On his next job at WBNS television in Columbus Ohio; on his first impressions of television and going to the 1940 World's Fair; on moving to New York and performing in clubs
On his first television show, the 15-minute Jonathan Winters Show on NBC - which introduced his famous characters "Maude Frickert" and "Elwood P. Suggins"

Chapter 3

On characters "Elwood P. Suggins," "Willard Crachlow," and "King Kwasi;" on The Jonathan Winters Show; on his early appearances on The Garry Moore Show; on The Tonight Show with Steve Allen
On appearances on The Jack Paar Show; On his time on Broadway; On Rod Serling and playing a dramatic role on The Twilight Zone

Chapter 4

On his nervous breakdown in 1961 and being diagnosed as manic depressive; On It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and his co-stars in the film
On working with Andy Williams, Dean Martin and Bob Hope; on the special quality Johnny Carson brought to The Tonight Show

Chapter 5

On joining the cast of Mork & Mindy; on his appearance on Hee Haw; on winning an Emmy for Davis Rules
On advice to those starting out in comedy; on advice for creating characters
Shows

Andy Williams Show, The

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Jonathan Winters on working with Andy Williams on The Andy Williams Show

Garry Moore Show, The

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Jonathan Winters on his early appearances on The Garry Moore Show  

Hee Haw

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Jonathan Winters on his appearances on Hee Haw

Jack Paar Show, The (1954)

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Jonathan Winters on his appearances on the Jack Paar Show; on guest-hosting the show; on different talk-show hosts' styles

Jonathan Winters Show, The (1956-57)

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Jonathan Winters on the format of his first show, the 15-minute Jonathan Winters Show on NBC - which introduced his famous characters "Maude Frickert" and "Elwood P. Suggins"
Jonathan Winters on putting together the characters for the first Jonathan Winters Show on NBC which was just 15 minutes long; on how his improvisation style worked on live TV

Mork & Mindy

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Jonathan Winters on joining the cast of Mork & Mindy

Omnibus

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Jonathan Winters on how he got offered a part on Omnibus after Alistair Cooke discovered him performing his Custer's Last Stand routine at the Ruban Blue nightclub

Tonight

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Jonathan Winters on working with Steve Allen on The Tonight Show with Steve Allen and his team: Louis Nye, Tom Poston, Pat Harrington

Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The

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Jonathan Winters on the special quality Johnny Carson brought to The Tonight Show

Twilight Zone, The

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Jonathan Winters on appearing on Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone; on why he wanted to take a dramatic role
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

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Jonathan Winters on his famous granny character Maude Frickert, first introduced on the Jonathan Winters Show on NBC
Jonathan Winters on his famous granny character "Elwood P. Suggins", first introduced on the Jonathan Winters Show on NBC
Jonathan Winters on his characters "Elwood P. Suggins", "General Pershing", and "King Kwasi"

Emmy Awards

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Jonathan Winters on winning an Emmy for his role on Davis Rules

Technological Innovation

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Jonathan Winters on doing the first color TV show in the U.S.
Professions

Comedian

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Jonathan Winters on advice for creating characters
Jonathan Winters on advice to those starting out in comedy

Performer

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Jonathan Winters on his admiration for actors on stage

Performers

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Jonathan Winters on his admiration for actors on stage
Jonathan Winters on advice for creating characters
Jonathan Winters on advice to those starting out in comedy
Genres

Comedy Series

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Jonathan Winters on joining the cast of Mork & Mindy

Talk Shows

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Jonathan Winters on the special quality Johnny Carson brought to The Tonight Show
People

Spiro T. Agnew

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Jonathan Winters on a dinner party at Bob Hope's house which Vice President Spiro Agnew attended

Steve Allen

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Jonathan Winters on working with Steve Allen on The Tonight Show with Steve Allen and his team: Louis Nye, Tom Poston, Pat Harrington

Johnny Carson

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Jonathan Winters on the special quality Johnny Carson brought to The Tonight Show

Pam Dawber

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Jonathan Winters on joining the cast of Mork & Mindy

Pat Harrington, Jr.

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Jonathan Winters on his friendship with Pat Harrington whom he met when appearing on the Steve Allen Tonight Show; on "Guido Panzini"

Bob Hope

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Jonathan Winters on Bob Hope

Bonnie Hunt

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Jonathan Winters on winning an Emmy for his role on Davis Rules and having great chemistry with Bonnie Hunt

Stanley Kramer

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Jonathan Winters on Stanley Kramer wanting him to be in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Dean Martin

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Jonathan Winters on working with Dean Martin

Audrey Meadows

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Jonathan Winters on winning an Emmy for his role on Davis Rules

Jack Paar

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Jonathan Winters on Jack Paar and appearances on the Jack Paar Show

Rod Serling

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Jonathan Winters, who appeared on an episode of The Twilight Zone, on Rod Serling

Phil Silvers

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Jonathan Winters on Phil Silvers and a scene with Phil Silvers in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Arnold Stang

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Jonathan Winters on the gas station scene of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Barbara Walters

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Jonathan Winters on Barbara Walters interviewing Bob Hope

Andy Williams

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Jonathan Winters on working with Andy Williams on The Andy Williams Show

Robin Williams

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Jonathan Winters on joining the cast of Mork & Mindy

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