Saturday, June 25, 2005

The not-so-wonderful news about Tigger

Mark Evanier is reporting on his blog (which you should be reading daily, like clockwork) the death of ventriloquist and voice actor Paul Winchell at the age of 83.

For those of us of a certain age (and we know who we are, don't we?), Paul Winchell's unmistakable voice left an indelible stamp on our childhood memories. Mr. Winchell was the larynx behind such familiar characters as:
  • Tigger in Disney's various Winnie the Pooh projects.
  • Dick Dastardly in Wacky Races and Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines (also known as Stop That Pigeon!).
  • Fleegle in the never-to-be-forgotten Banana Splits.
  • The villainous wizard Gargamel in The Smurfs.
  • Bubi Bear in Help! It's the Hair Bear Bunch!
  • Goober in Goober and the Ghost Chasers.
Before he was one of the most recognizable voices in cartoons, Winchell was a fixture on TV variety shows as a ventriloquist, probably the most famous practitioner of that dying art after Edgar Bergen. Winchell's figures Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff were, at one time, as famous as he was.

An inventor as well as an entertainer, Winchell held the patent on the original prototype for an artificial heart, which he developed in conjunction with Dr. Henry Heimlich of maneuver fame.

A rare talent, indeed. He'll be missed.

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