Comic legend Jonathan Winters died Thursday. A spokesman for the comic and actor said Winters died of natural causes at his home in Montecito, California, surrounded by family and friends. He was 87.
Winters started his career after winning a talent contest in his home state of Ohio. That led to a number of local radio gigs, and in 1953 he headed to New York in the hopes of making it big. After performing at Manhattan's Blue Angel nightclub, his star was on the rise. He became a regular on the late night talk show circuit, appearing on Jack Paar's, Johnny Carson's and Steve Allen's hit shows.
One of his most famous roles was in 1963's "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World," playing Lennie Pike. He also had a recurring role on "Mork & Mindy" in the 1980s as Robin Williams' son Mearth, who aged in reverse. He recorded 12 classic comedy records, and was an inspiration for modern-day comedians like Williams and Jim Carrey.
Winters was also a noted painter and author. His 1987 book "Winters' Tales: Stories and Observations for the Unusual" was a national best-seller.
He is survived by his two children and five grandchildren. His wife of 60 years, the woman who encouraged him to enter that Ohio talent contest that began his career, died in 2009 after a long battle with breast cancer.