Paul Winchell: T.T.F.N.

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.


Rob said...

I notice the still is from "12 Angry Men", still my favorite performance of his. He was one of the most distinctive actors ever, with no one quite like him. The quintessential supporting man. He was a good Ripper, too. ;-)


swac said...

Someone reminded me of his Star Trek guest appearance shortly after I posted this...easily one of my favorite episodes of the original series (and one of the few, if not the only one, to centre on Scotty.

"Rejak! Rejak!"

sleepybomb said...

bummer, the 50's are dropping like flies. paul always will remind me of growing up watching t.v., his shit was always bent... now we just watch old movies and reruns on dvd. there are no tv shows nowadays that have such actors.
they may have been creepy then, but now i find the 21st century very creepy ...

Brooklyn Blowhard said...

Scotty wotty doo-dah to all!

birtch said...

Old though this post may be, I feel compelled to reply. As a child I was frightened and disturbed by Paul Winchell's show in a way I never felt with Shari Lewis. I loved it.

A friend owned a large, thick and dense book written by Mr. Winchell wherein he dissected the Bible's depiction of God. You can find similar writings on his official site,

My favorite John Fiedler role was Woody on the excellent 80s sitcom Buffalo Bill starring Dabney Coleman. A very well-written show with a great ensemble, among whom not the least was Mr. Fiedler.