The late Jonathan Winters, 87, who died on April 11, has a Culver connection. He attended the Culver Summer Schools & Camps during the summer of 1941 and participated in the Horsemanship program.
Winters is a member of the inaugural class of the Culver Academies Arts & Letters Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 2004. Born in Dayton, Ohio, on Nov. 11, 1925, he attended public school in Springfield until he dropped out at age 17 to join the Marine Corps.
Serving through the rest of World War II, he returned to Ohio and attended Kenyon College, then transferred to the Dayton Art Institute. Winning a talent competition, which gave him a chance as a radio disc jockey in Dayton, led to television job in Columbus. In the 1953, with $56.46 in his pocket, Winters moved to New York City, and there his comedic career took off while performing at the Blue Angel nightclub.
Winters appeared on dozens of comedy programs, specials, and television series, beginning in 1954. In the mid-1960s he appeared on The Jack Paar Show, The Steve Allen Show, and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He also had his own shows, The Jonathan Winters Special and The Jonathan Winters Show. He appeared with such comedic greats as Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Steve Allen, and spanned generations, appearing with Robin Williams and on Late Night with David Letterman.
He also was the voice for many children cartoon characters, including as Papa Smurf in The Smurfs and in The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley. Winters received an best supporting actor Emmy Award in 1991 for his role in the comedy Davis Rules.
Winters also found success on the big screen, appearing in such films as It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World; The Loved One; The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming; Moon Over Parador; The Shadow; and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.
He was inducted into the Comedy Hall of Fame and received the Mark Twain Prize in Humor.