December 21: Happy Birthday, Paul Winchell
Paul Winchell was a talented radio ventriloquist, voice actor, and comedian whose career reached its peak in the 1950’s and 60’s. From 1950 to 1954 he hosted The Paul Winchell Show and from 1965 to 1968 he hosted Winchell-Mahoney Time.
Winchell’s initial dream was to become a doctor, but the lack of money in his family prevented him from initially pursuing that dream. At age 13, he happened upon a magazine advertising a ventriloquism set while recovering from polio. He decided, with guidance from his art teacher, Jerry Magon, to create his own dummy for class credit. When he finished, he dubbed it Jerry Mahoney in honor of the teacher who helped him. Winchell quickly developed a comedy routine with his creation, and he made an appearance on Major Bowes’ Amateur Hour, winning the program. This became his pathway into the entertainment world.
Winchell’s first show was on radio with Jerry Mahoney in 1943. The program, however, was short-lived. The duo eventually made the jump to television with several programs of their own. Winchell also had success doing voice work for Disney and Hanna-Barbera cartoons. He is best known as Tigger in the Winnie the Pooh movies.
In addition to Winchell’s talent for entertainment, he was also a prestigious inventor. His interest in medicine led him to become the first person to invent and patent an artificial heart.