Jonathan Winters, Getty Images
The world of comedy has lost a legend.
Jonathan Winters, who was known for his improv work that inspired many a contemporary stand-up comic including Robin Williams, Jim Carrey and others, has died. He was 87.
Longtime family friend Joe Petro III says Winters died Thursday evening at his Montecito, Calif., home of natural causes, reports AP.
A note on his website adds, "Rest in Peace, Mr. Winters."
Winters' career began when he won a talent contest in Dayton, Ohio, which led to radio gigs and appearances at comedy clubs, along with comedy albums.
He was a favorite guest on the late night TV circuit for decades, often appearing with Jack Paar, Johnny Carson and Steve Allen. And he often performed in character. One one of his best known was Maude Frickert, an old lady with a quick and acid wit. He had his own TV show in the 1950s.
Winters also appeared in nearly 50 movies, including a particularly notable role in the 1963 film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
Eileen Schauder Winters, his wife of more than 60 years, died on Jan. 11, 2009. Jonathan is survived by two children and five grandchildren.