For the 2013 Primetime Emmy Awards, the In Memoriam segment was done with five special tributes to those we lost in the past year. Robin Williams was on hand to speak about Jonathan Winters, the legendary comedian with whom Williams worked on “Mork and Mindy” in the early 1980s.
Williams says of Winters:
Jonathan Winters was my mentor. I once told him that and he said, ‘Please. I prefer ‘idol.” But I knew it was true. I knew the moment I saw him on ‘The Tonight Show’ when Jack Parr handed him a stick. What happened next was a genius at play. John and that stick transformed into a dozen different characters, complete with sound effects — a fly-fisherman, a matador, Bing Crosby playing a round of golf … he was comedy at the speed of thought and I was hooked.
20 years later I got to play Jonathan’s dad on ‘Mork and Mindy.’ His riffs on our show were like epic mini-movies. … sometimes I would join in and jamming with Jonathan was like dancing with Fred Astaire. He always brought out your best. …
The beauty of Jonathan was that he was a big, brilliant kid that never grew up and the world was his playground. In April, Johnny turned out the lights, but he sure burned bright while he was here. Thanks for the spark, big guy.
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. RIP, Jonathan Winters. The infamous “stick” bit from “The Tonight Show” in 1964 is below.