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Paul Winchell, Voice of Tigger, Dies at 82

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Paul Winchell, Voice of Tigger, Dies at 82

Old 06-26-05, 12:28 PM
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Paul Winchell, Voice of Tigger, Dies at 82

Didn't know for sure where this should go, so I chose Movie Talk.



LOS ANGELES - Paul Winchell, a ventriloquist, inventor and children's TV show host best known for creating the lispy voice of Winnie the Pooh's animated friend Tigger, has died. He was 82.

Winchell died Friday morning in his sleep at his Moorpark home, Burt Du Brow, a television producer and close family friend, told the Los Angeles Times.

Over six decades, Winchell was a master ventriloquist bringing dummies Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff to life on television and an inventor who held 30 patents, including one for an early artificial heart he built in 1963.

But he was perhaps best known for his work as the voice of the lovable tiger in animated versions of A.A. Milne's "Winnie the Pooh" with his trademark "T-I-double grrrr-R."

Winchell first voiced Tigger in 1968 for Disney's "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day," which won an Academy Award for best animated short film, and continued to do so through 1999's "Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving."

"I first met Walt Disney 25 or 30 years ago," Winchell recalled in a 1988 interview with The Associated Press. "He said, 'We're both in the same business. I use cartoons and you use dummies and we both entertain children.' That was long before I started working here. Walt gave me a VIP tour of the studio. I remember people doing voices. I said, 'Gee, that must be fun.' And here I am."

Winchell voiced memorable characters in numerous animated features over the years for Disney and Hanna Barbera. He was Gargamel in "The Smurfs," and Boomer in "The Fox and the Hound."

Winchell said he always tried to look for characteristics and idiosyncrasies in the voices he created. For Tigger, he created a slight lisp and a laugh. He credited his wife, who is British, for giving him the inspiration for Tigger's signature phrase: TTFN. TA-TA for now.

In 1974, he earned a Grammy for best children's recording with "The Most Wonderful Things About Tiggers" from the feature "Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too."

At the age of 13, Winchell was a winner on radio's "Amateur Hour" for doing his imitation of Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. Ventriloquist Bergen was his childhood hero, and Winchell said one of the greatest thrills of his life was a joint appearance with Bergen on the game show "Masquerade Party."

Winchell made his television debut in 1947 with a smart-mouthed puppet he had invented in his early teens, and within a year was host of "The Bigelow Show." He was also host of a number of children's shows, including "The Paul Winchell-Jerry Mahoney Show" and "Circus Time."

In 1950, Winchell created Knucklehead Smiff and introduced him on "The Spiedel Show," which later became "What's My Name?"

Despite his success in television, Winchell felt the medium did not do justice to his beloved craft.

"Ventriloquism today is in a slump," he told the AP. "I think television defeats ventriloquism. Children are so used to seeing puppets that when they see a real ventriloquist they don't understand it. On television, everyone talks and they don't care about the mechanics."

Winchell's dummies are now at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

Winchell was born in New York City on Dec. 21, 1922. He contracted polio at age six and overcame speech impediments as he learned to throw his own voice.

Winchell attended Columbia University and also studied and practiced acupuncture and hypnosis and became a prolific inventor.

He donated his early artificial heart to the University of Utah for research. Dr. Robert Jarvik and other researchers at the university went on to build an artificial heart, dubbed the Jarvik-7, which was implanted into patients after 1982.

Among Winchell's other patents: a disposable razor, a flameless cigarette lighter and an invisible garter belt.

Winchell is survived by his wife of 31 years, the former Jean Freeman; five children and three grandchildren.
Old 06-26-05, 12:48 PM
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Sad news I didnt know he was that old, I remember him most as Tigger of course but he did other voice work as well.
Don't forget his trademark Tigger laugh.

RIP
Old 06-26-05, 03:04 PM
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Old 06-26-05, 03:41 PM
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As a kid growing up, I always loved his work on television in the various shows he himself had or guest starred on. Also, enjoyed his work in that Three Stooges compilation film Stop! Look! and Laugh!. He always seemed liked such a nice, likeable guy, but I guess there was a much darker side to his life because I know he became estranged from his children later in life.

This is from his daughter's (April) website:

I got a phone call a few minutes ago, telling me that my father passed away yesterday.

A source close to my dad, or at least, closer than I was, decided to tell me himself, instead of letting me find out on the news, which I appreciate. Apparently a decision had been made not to tell me, or my father's other children.

My father was a very troubled and unhappy man. If there is another place after this one, it is my hope that he now has the peace that eluded him on earth.
http://www.aprilwinchell.com/

Rest in peace, Paul. You gave me and my friends lots of laughs.
Old 06-26-05, 03:50 PM
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Long Live Tigger!
Old 06-26-05, 04:21 PM
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I wonder why he was so unhappy?
Old 06-26-05, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Franchot
As a kid growing up, I always loved his work on television in the various shows he himself had or guest starred on. Also, enjoyed his work in that Three Stooges compilation film Stop! Look! and Laugh!. He always seemed liked such a nice, likeable guy, but I guess there was a much darker side to his life because I know he became estranged from his children later in life.

This is from his daughter's (April) website:



http://www.aprilwinchell.com/

Rest in peace, Paul. You gave me and my friends lots of laughs.

Holy smokes. I didn't know this was the same Paul Winchell. I thought Paul had died years ago. His daughter April is also VERY talented.

Last edited by Giantrobo; 06-27-05 at 05:25 AM.
Old 06-26-05, 06:38 PM
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Didn't know he was that old. He did some good characters, he will be missed.
Old 06-27-05, 10:06 AM
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I just heard that John Fiedler, the voice of Piglet, died on Saturday. That's a little spooky.
Old 06-27-05, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Second Guest
I just heard that John Fiedler, the voice of Piglet, died on Saturday. That's a little spooky.
Whoa! He was just on my mind! I was just thinking about which actors from "12 Angry Men" were still alive.
Old 06-27-05, 10:12 AM
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Tigger was always my favorite. Thanks for the memories.
Old 06-27-05, 02:38 PM
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Two Pooh voices dead in a week. Is Sterling Holloway still alive?
Old 06-27-05, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by devilpants
Two Pooh voices dead in a week. Is Sterling Holloway still alive?
Uhh...no. He passed away over ten years ago.
Old 06-27-05, 03:59 PM
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Winchell did voices you could instantly recall, sort of like Daws Butler. If what his daughter says is accurate, it's too bad he was unhappy. However, if they were estranged, then how could she know his frame of mind?
Old 06-27-05, 04:10 PM
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Sad News

Rest in Peace

Old 06-27-05, 05:00 PM
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That's Paul on the extreme right with his young charge, Jerry Mahoney.
Old 06-27-05, 07:15 PM
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I think I remember Paul Winchell best from his Hollywood Squares days. He was the first ventriloquist/dummy act I ever saw...


John Fiedler I remember from a million movies and TV shows.


Two of the biggest voice talents of their era. Sad to see them go. Tigger and Piglet.
Old 06-27-05, 07:23 PM
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RIP guys.... thanks for the joy you gave so many kids and adults

Old 06-27-05, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Charlie Goose
Winchell did voices you could instantly recall, sort of like Daws Butler. If what his daughter says is accurate, it's too bad he was unhappy. However, if they were estranged, then how could she know his frame of mind?
From what I can piece together (I've listened sporatically to April's radio show), her father (Paul) got into theology and religion late in life and somehow he had a falling out with his family (including his wife.) Not wanting to communicate with his children would indicate a troubled frame of mind to me, but who knows? I'm just hearing one side of the story. Regardless of what was going on in his personal life, I've always enjoyed his appearances in whatever medium he appeared. He was a guy who proved he was talented in whatever field he explored.

EDIT: Checking IMDB, Paul was married three times and April is his daughter from his second marriage. (Seems he had seven children altogether. I think the falling out had something to do with his first and second wife and the children he had with them.)

Last edited by Franchot; 06-27-05 at 09:07 PM.
Old 06-27-05, 07:59 PM
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Man, That sucks. =(
Old 06-28-05, 02:33 AM
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Wow, Tigger is one of my favorite characters. I've got tons of Tigger stuff, and am wearing his boxers right now.

TTFN, and say hello to Pig-el-et.
Old 06-28-05, 02:51 AM
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saw this on the news last night..sad indeed
Old 06-28-05, 06:42 AM
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This is why I read this site. I missed that John Fiedler died. RIP both.
Old 06-28-05, 09:01 AM
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Oh bother...


Old 06-28-05, 09:03 AM
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This is how I remember him from my childhood. I never saw any of the Winnie the Pooh films and didn't know he was one of the voices.

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