(Reuters) Comedian Jonathan Winters, star of dozens of TV shows and movies like "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," has died at the age of 87, a family friend said on Friday.
Winters died on Thursday of natural causes at his home in Montecito, California, surrounded by family and friends, Joe Petro III, a long-time friend of the actor who runs his official website, told Reuters.
The burly, moon-faced Winters had an outlandish riffing style and repertoire of madcap characters that made him a leading stand-up performer in the late 1950 and 1960s.
He made regular appearances on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson, had his own TV show "The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters" in the early 1970s, and was also a major influence on contemporary comedians like Robin Williams and Steve Martin.
"Jon's a great man, a genius and we've lost a genius," Petro told Reuters. "How do you explain working with a genius who you grew up watching on Johnny Carson? Jon was Jon. He was the same way off screen as on screen."
Winters also starred in the 1966 movie "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming," and his comedy records, including routines titled "The Oldest Airline Stewardess" and "The Shy Guy Returns a Toaster," were big sellers.
In 1981 Winters was cast in the TV comedy series "Mork and Mindy," teaming him with Williams.