Saturday, June 25, 2005

Puppetmaster Passes

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Paul Winchell, a ventriloquist,
inventor and children's TV show host best known for creating the
lispy voice of Winnie the Pooh's animated friend Tigger, has died.
He was 82.

Winchell died Friday morning in his sleep at his Moorpark home,
Burt Du Brow, a television producer and close family friend,
told the Los Angeles Times.

Over six decades, Winchell was a master ventriloquist --
bringing dummies Jerry Mahoney and
Knucklehead Smiff to life on television -- and an inventor who
held 30 patents, including one for an
early artificial heart he built in 1963. Unfortunately, the
heart wouldn't work unless Winchell had his
hand in the patient's back.

(Thanks a lot to my pal Randy in NZ.)