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Paul Winchell, voice of Tigger, dead at 82

Discussion in 'In Memoriam...' started by eminovitz, Nov 7, 2013.

  1. eminovitz

    eminovitz Research Guru / Moderator Emeritus

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    Jun 26, 2005

    Ventriloquist, children's TV show host and inventor Paul Winchell, who gave voice to Tigger in animated versions of Winnie the Pooh for over three decades, died early Friday morning at 82.

    Winchell died in his sleep at his home in Moorpark, California, TV producer and close family friend WinBurt Du Brow told the Los Angeles Times.

    For six decades, Winchell created countless voices. His best-known was probably that of Tigger, the tiger created by A.A. Milne as a friend of Pooh.

    Winchell first provided the voice of the lovable Tigger in 1968 for Disney's Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, which received an Oscar for best animated short film. He continued to voice the little tiger on the big and little screen through 1999's Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving. Jim Cummings has voiced both Tigger and Pooh in recent years.

    In 1974, Winchell won a Grammy in 1974 for the best children's recording with "The Most Wonderful Things About Tiggers," from the animated feature film Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too. He was also nominated for an Annie for animated feature film Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin (1998).

    Winchell gave his British-born wife credit for creating Tigger's signature phrase "TTFN" ("Ta-ta for now").

    Winchell's other cartoon voices included Gargamel in The Smurfs, Dick Dastardly in such Hanna-Barbera cartoons as Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, Boomer in Disney's The Fox and the Hound, and a Siamese cat in The Aristocats.

    Other H-B characters included Fleagle (The Banana Splits) and Zummi (The Gummi Bears).

    He was born Paul Wilchin in New York on December 21, 1922.

    Winchell began his career as a ventriloquist, gaining fame for bringing dummies Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff to TV. He started in 1948 on the CBS program The Bigelow Show, What's My Name? (originally called The Spiedel Show) in 1950, and finally, starred in Winchell Mahoney Time.

    But the developing medium also proved to be a liability for ventriloquists, Winchell observed.

    "Television and its use of computers can make everything talk, so there's no need for the art of ventriloquism any more. I don't think young kids today would even understand it," he told the Los Angeles Times in 1998.

    He was also an inventor. His over 30 patents included one for an early artificial heart that he built in 1963 and donated to the University of Utah for research. Later, Dr. Robert Jarvik and other researchers from the university became well-known for the Jarvik-7, which was implanted into patients after 1982.

    Winchell also invented a flameless cigarette lighter, an early disposable razor, an invisible garter belt, and a device indicating when frozen food had gone bad after a blackout.

    He attended Columbia University in 1959 and became a doctor of acupuncture after graduating from The Acupuncture Research College of Los Angeles in 1974.

    His puppet sidekicks Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff are now in the Smithsonian.

    In 1997, he received the Winsor McCay Award for lifetime achievement in animation. Recently, he wrote an autobiography, Winch.

    Paul Winchell is survived by his wife, the former Jean Freeman; their two sons, Larry and Keith; son Stacy and daughter Stephanie, from his first marriage to Dottie Morse; and daughter April Winchell, from his second marriage to actress Nina Russel. April Winchell is a prominent talk show host and voiceover artist with her own production company.

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