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Jonathan Winters, an improvisational comedy pioneer and actor who inspired comedians like Robin Williams, died at age 87, the Associated Press reported on Friday, April 12.
Longtime family friend Joe Petro III told the wire service that the Ohio native died of natural causes on Thursday evening at his home in Montecito, California.
Winters was a master of improv and some of his best known characters included Maude Frickert, a saucy old lady who Winters had based on a woman he knew in Ohio.
He was a regular panelist on "The Hollywood Squares" and he regularly appeared on "The Dean Martin Show," "Mork & Mindy," "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" and "Hee Haw."
In 1981, he began appearing as the son of Williams' goofball alien in the final season of ABC's "Mork & Mindy" named Mearth. He went on to become the voice of Papa Smurf on "The Smurfs" animated television series and reprised the role for the 2011 live-action "Smurfs" film.
Winters would go on to inspire the likes of Williams and Jim Carrey, as well as Billy Crystal, Tracey Ullman and Lily Tomlin, according to the AP. He won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the sitcom "Davis Rules" in 1991. He also won two Grammys, one for his "The Little Prince" album in 1975 and another for "Crank Calls" in 1996. In 1999, Winters was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
(Pictured: This May 6, 1997 file photo shows comedian Jonathan Winters posing at a hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif)
(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, file)