Remembering Jonathan Winters, 1925-2013

BY Murrey Jacobson  April 12, 2013 at 4:00 PM EST


Jonathan Winters, who ascended to fame in the late 1950s as one of the great stand-up comedians, died Thursday at his home in Montecito, Calif., at age 87.

Winters was well-known for his frequent appearances on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” and “The Steve Allen Show,” as well as in movies, such as “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” He also served as inspiration to other comics like Robin Williams because of the characters he created, his ability to ad-lib and his sometimes surreal jokes. One of his best-known characters was the sarcastic and sometimes grandmother he played in drag, Maude Frickert.

Several comedians paid tribute to Winters on Friday after the news broke:

In 1999, he sat down with Jim Lehrer and discussed his career, how he first started loving comedy as a child, his time in the Marines and why he loved improvising. Watch the video above, and you can read the transcript here.