Legendary film and TV funnyman Jonathan Winters has passed away at his Montecito, California, home at the age of 87. Winters died of natural causes Thursday night and was surrounded by friends and family, according to TMZ.com.
The actor was born in Dayton, Ohio, on November 11, 1925. He quit school at 17 and joined the Marine Corps, serving during World War II. When he returned home after the war he went to college and attended art school, where he met his wife, Eileen Schauder. The couple married in 1948 and spent the next 60 years together before Eileen's death in 2009.
Winters's career began by chance, fatefully landing a radio deejaying job after losing his wristwatch. Since he wasn't able to afford a new one, Eileen encouraged him to enter a local talent contest she heard about. The first prize in the contest? A new watch.
In 1953 Winters moved to New York City and began working in stand-up comedy, eventually becoming a regular on late-night shows like The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
The star was best known for ad-libbing while in the guise of one of his many wacky characters, like Maude Frickert, the sweet old lady with oft an innuendo-laced comment, and Princess Leilani-nani -- the world's oldest hula dancer.
Winters released nearly 20 comedy albums and his most notable film roles include the classic "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," and "Eight On The Lam." He also starred alongside Robin Williams in the fourth season of 80s sci-fi comedy Mork and Mindy. Winters was Williams' idol.
In 1999, Winters was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
Winters as Maude Frickert