Paul Winchell (with Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff)
December 21, 1922 - June 24, 2005
Groundbreaking TV ventriloquist, voice of Tigger and Dick Dastardly (and Muttley), inventor of an early artificial heart, Paul Winchell certainly led an interesting life, although according to his daughter April, not an entirely happy one. I have an old black and white tape of a '50s Winchell/Mahoney show, and it's easy to detect his joy of performing, although there's a weird adult sensibility buried in the material that occasionally seems creepy (although you could say the same thing about a lot of early Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy routines). But I guess the creepiness is probably why I find that old kinescope so compelling.
John Fiedler 1925-2005
By a weird coincidence, character actor John Fiedler, one of the original 12 Angry Men, also died on the weekend. Known by millions as the voice of Piglet in the Disney Winnie the Pooh cartoons, I knew him best as milquetoast patient Mr. Peterson on The Bob Newhart Show, although he had a long career that also included roles in The Odd Couple, Kiss Me Stupid, True Grit and, of course, Honky.