Jonathan Winters, the comic actor whose career spanned more than five decades, has passed away at his home in Encino, Los Angeles, surrounded by family and friends at the age of 87. His death was confirmed by to press by Gary Owens, his good friend, who said this of Winters; “He was one of the great comedy talents in the history of the United States. Just brilliant."

Jonathan Winters
Jonathan Winters brought laughter to millions for half a century

Winters was one of the most inspirational and well-known faces in comedy from the 1950's onwards, working until the very end with his last performance coming as the voice of Papa Smurf in 2011's movie adaptation of The Smurfs. He was due to resume his role in the upcoming sequel and also had another role scheduled for the film Big Finish alongside Jerry Lewis and Bob Newhart. Of course, Winters had a sizeable back catalogue of material and is perhaps best known for his roles in It's A Mad, Mad, Mad World and The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! as well as the 1994 version of The Flintstones on screen, but it is his television work he will be best remembered for.

Winters was the original voice of Grandpa Smurf in the original television series and appeared in many other animated series, but is perhaps known best of all for his role as Mearth, aka Dave McConnell, in Mork and Mindy. His co-star in Mork and Mindy, Robin Williams has cited Winters as one of his major influences that made him want to get into comedy, as have many others over the years. Winters was also the host of his own comedy variety series in the '50s, '60s and '70s.

Winters was born in Dayton, Ohio on November 11 1925 and despite his fame he continued to live a humble, ordinary life. He was married to Eileen Schauder for 60 years, until her death in 2009 and leaves behind two children from his marriage to Eileen.

Jonathan Winters
Jonathan Winters kept on working until the end.