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The entertainment world has lost a legend in Jonathan Winters, a veteran actor and comic who passed away at the age of 87, according to his website.

Longtime family friend Joe Petro III says Winters, who inspired so many comedians, died Thursday night at his Montecito, Calif., home of natural causes.

A note on his website adds, “Rest in Peace, Mr. Winters.”

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Winters’ career began when he won a talent contest in Ohio, which led to radio gigs and appearances at comedy clubs, along with comedy albums.


His originality made him a favorite guest on the late night TV circuit for decades, often appearing with Jack Paar, Johnny Carson and Steve Allen.

Winters often performed in character, too, including old standby Maude Frickert, a lady with a quick and acid wit. He had his own TV show in the 1950s.

Winters also appeared in nearly 50 movies and TV programs, 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. R.I.P.