82 (passed away Jun. 24th, 2005)
Dec. 21st, 1922
New York City, New York, USA
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Born Paul Wilchin, on December 21, 1922, the son of Sol and Clara Wilchin, Paul Winchell grew up to be the most beloved ventriloquist of the children of the USA. Ironically, as famous as Paul is, his dummy, Jerry Mahoney, may be even more famous. Not since Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy in the previous two decades had a ventriloquist and his dummy known equal celebrity.
Entering the spotlight on the Edward Bowes _"Original Amateur Hour" (1948)_, he began working soon after in a review show in which Major Bowes would showcase the winners of his radio program. He started his television career on the CBS program "The Bigelow Show" (1948) in 1948; _"What's My Name?" (1950)_ originally called "The Spiedel Show," in 1950; and finally the best known of his shows "Winchell-Mahoney Time" (1965). With a clubhouse premise, his dummies Jerry Mahoney, and Knucklehead Smiff, another of Paul's characters, as the clubhouse leaders and the music of the bandleader Milton Delugg. A new innovation of Paul Winchell was to replace the dummy's hands with those of puppeteers who were hidden behind the dummies in a crate. Winch also played many serous dramatic roles on television without his dummy sidekicks.
What may be even more famous is that he created the voice of Tigger for the Walt Disney Company's "Winnie The Pooh" motion picture series, based on the famous books by A.A. Milne, a role he played behind the scenes until 1999, when he was replaced by Jim Cummings (I), who also played Pooh from the time that Sterling Holloway died. He was also the voice of many other cartoon characters that are famous all over the world.
A little know fact about Winchell is he is one of the original inventors of an artificial heart - years before the first successful transplant with such of a device, an automobile that runs on battery power, a method for breeding tilapia fish, and many other inventions that are still around today.
- Credits his British born third wife Jean who came up with Tigger's signature phrase "TTFN," or "Ta-ta-for now."
- Recounts, in his autobiography, "Winch," about overcoming a severe childhood stutter, and tells about being severely abused by his mother. He had horrendous relationships with all of his children, according to his daughter, April, as told on her website (www.aprilwinchell.com) and book.
- Was extremely shy as a youth and had a stuttering problem. Awed by famed ventriloquist 'Edgar Bergen' (qv) (who became his idol) and his monocled dummy Charlie McCarthy as a youth, Paul learned to throw his own voice and gradually overcame his speech impediment.
- His puppet side-kicks, Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff, are now in the Smithsonian Institution.
- He won a $17.8-million jury verdict in his lawsuit against Metromedia Inc. over Metromedia's destruction of the only remaining tapes of his _"Winchell-Mahoney Time" (1965)_ (qv) children's television series. Metromedia, which produced the show from 1964 to 1968, erased the 288 tapes in a dispute with Winchell over the syndication rights.
- Attended Columbia University, then studied and practiced acupuncture and hypnosis, the latter of which he used on his son Stacy when he underwent a tonsillectomy.
- Was the voice for the "scrubbing bubbles" mascot for Dow Bathroom Cleaner, and after Dow sold its consumer products line to S.C. Johnson, the product was renamed to Scrubbing Bubbles.
- Died one day before the death of 'John Fiedler (I)' (qv), who was the voice of Piglet in the animated Winnie the Pooh specials and films.
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