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Welcome to PaulWinchell.com

Fact Sheet


Birthday: December 21, 1922
Birth Place: New York, New York, USA
Birth Name: Paul Wilchin

Notes

· Famed ventriloquist with characters
"Jerry Mahoney" and "Knucklehead Smiff."

· Winchell was a medical inventor
who patented an artificial human heart.

· His puppet side-kicks Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff are now in the Smithsonian Institution.

· Skilled voice-over artist for many Disney films.


BIOGRAPHY OF PAUL WINCHELL

INTRODUCTION

If someone wanted to envision a dream career, they should possibly form a line in front of Paul Winchell. Although Paul’s career has had its ups and downs, it is probably one of the most fascinating examples of human diversity around. Yet despite his oft-times external success, Paul has been haunted by influences extending from his early childhood, forcing him to deal with many psychological and emotional challenges. Part of these challenges forced him to be an over-achiever. This is clear as one follows his career path from entertainer to inventor to theologian. When you understand Paul better, it also explains why he has spent so many years, in his theological writings, challenging the grips of fundamentalism on the human condition.

Born on December 21, 1922, Paul Winchell, born Paul Wilchin, the son of Sol and Clara Wilchin, was definitely not slated for a comfortable childhood. In fact, Paul was born on the first day of winter, the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the time when Earth is closest to the sun. The Solstice is also the most significant event in the origin of religion when early man feared the sun was leaving. Superstition and orthodox religious beliefs were, in fact, a starting point for a complex and difficult personal life, chronicled in depth in a recent autobiography and a screenplay based on this book.

Paul has been happily married for many happy years to the former Jean Freeman. They have two sons, Larry and Keith. He has several children, including Stacy and Stephanie from his first marriage to Dottie Morse and daughter, April Winchell, from his second marriage to actress Nina Russel. April Winchell is a prominent talk show host and voice over artist, with her own production company.

Paul’s amazing career was jumpstarted very early, in spite of personal speech handicaps and resistance from his family, when he became a regular listener of Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. He was driven to an early, but very rewarding start.

VENTRILOQUIST

Paul and the gang.

No doubt, in the 1950's and 60's Paul Winchell was an icon on American

Television. The “Paul Winchell Jerry Mahoney Show” and “Winchell -Mahoney Time” were watched by millions of dedicated fans each week. People throughout the country would tune in to see Paul's sidekicks, Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff. If Jerry weren’t playing jokes on Knucklehead, he’d be flirting with famous guest stars like Lucille Ball and Angela Lansbury.

Paul was inspired originally by Edgar Bergen’s Chase and Sanborn Hours, a radio show that was a kind of an ironic tribute to a ventriloquist who was so entertaining that his captive audience, for over twenty years, could forgive the fact that they could not actually see Bergen throw his voice. Overcoming incredible odds, considering Winchell was shy and a stutterer, and against the will of his dominating mother, who discouraged his efforts, he learned the art and lost his speech defects, becoming a master voice over artist, ventriloquist, singer and storyteller.

Promoting Paul's Movie "Stop! Look! And Laugh!" with the 3 Stooges.

Paul got his first break in 1936, when he appeared on the “Major Bowes Original Amateur Hour.” On that first show, he presented his puppet, Terry, and did an imitation of Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. For those lucky enough to hear it, it is an amazing performance, with Paul’s dummy singing a striking bittersweet parady of “The Moon Got in My Eyes” from the Bing Crosby Film, “Double or Nothing.”

If one examines the history of early television, Paul Winchell will be amply represented. One might say he was into television before television broadcasting became a reality, because his first television show was in John Wannamaker’s, a department store, and was broadcast only within the store itself, since TV had not yet made it to the American home. Later, Paul was given a big plug by Ed Sullivan. His occasional appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show” made him known to a large national audience and helped spearhead his growth as an entertainer in demand.

Paul's TV Show "Winchell Mahoney Time"

But when Paul arrived in people’s homes, he arrived in a big way- for more than two decades, starring and hosting in his own shows and appearing on many others. The first show was an odd hybrid, called “The Bigelow Show,” which began in 1948 on CBS, and starred world famous mentalist, Dunninger, and Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney, in two entirely separated fifteen-minute segments. The segments were so segregated, the two performers hardly even came to know each other. This was the first year that CBS had regular programming seven days a week, inaugurating the era of today’s omniscient television. A move to NBC a year later resulted in the cancellation of the show.

But in 1950, a brand new show, originally called “The Spiedel Show,” but later on called “What’s My Name?” was aired on Monday nights and was on the air for five years. It was during this period that Winchell introduced the amazingly popular Knucklehead Smiff. If Winchell had been the straight man for his dummy, Jerry Mahoney, Jerry now became the straight man for the deliciously goofy Knucklehead. When Paul began to air the legendary, “Winchell Mahoney Time” on Saturday mornings, it soon conquered the children’s show audience, featuring Milton DeLugg, the bandleader, a large, highly energized audience of kids, a clubhouse motif and theme songs that these children would never completely forget. For the first year of “Winchell Mahoney Time,” Carol Burnett made her first television appearance as a stable character in the show.


Ronald Reagan meets Mahoney

Besides ventriloquism, Paul starred in many dramatic cameos. These cameos, written by his producer, Sherman Marks, matched him on prime time with many Hollywood superstars. They largely took place on “The Spiedel Show,” also called “What’s My Name,” and the “Paul Winchell Show,” in which Paul, who lived in “Funville,” worked in the Make Believe Theater. There is no doubt that these skits that focused on Paul Winchell starring opposite superstars like Angela Lansbury, Peter Lorre, Sir Cedric Hardwicke placed Paul Winchell on an enviable escalator to bigger and better things in the entertainment world. In fact, Margaret Truman, the President’s daughter, made her first dramatic appearance on that show. This route was tragically interrupted by problems that occurred after the death of his mother, which are described in his autobiography.

But Paul Winchell no sooner was off the air, then he went back onto the air big-time under the big top in a new show called, “Circus Time, “ which debuted in 1956 on ABC. Paul and Jerry hosted a show with combined various circus and musical acts only to be reformatted as a variety show as “The Paul Winchell Show,” which continued to 1960. In 1963, Cartoonies was hosted for about 6 months with the dynamic duo with “Winchell Mahoney Time” returning to the air in syndication for about 1 year in 1965. In the 1970’s, Paul, Knucklehead and Jerry hosted a children’s game show called “Runaround,” which lasted a year.

VOICE-OVER ARTIST

Winchell has one of the most recognized voices throughout the world. Paul created the voice of "Tigger" for Disney's "Winnie The Pooh" motion pictures and TV series. In 1974 he won the Grammy Award for the best children’s recording, “The Most Wonderful Things About Tiggers” from the film “Winnie The Pooh And Tigger Too”. Paul has played Tigger in Disney films and also supplied the voice for Boomer in “The Fox and The Hound”-the Siamese cat in “The Aristocats” and a number of incidental voices. For Hanna-Barbera he was Dick Dastardly of the Wacky Races, Fleagle 0f the Banana Splits, Zummi of the Gimmi Bears and Gargamel of The Smurfs, Paul gained the admiration of millions of animation fans and won the prestigious title of “A Disney Icon”. Married to a British lady named Jean, he inserted the phrase “Ta-Ta For Now” (TTFN) into the script against Disney’s orders and it caught on with the youngsters. When the film appeared in England it created a sensation. A national survey was taken recently where over a thousand children were asked, "If you could meet any cartoon character, which one would it be?" Well, it wasn't Mickey Mouse. Believe it or not, the majority of the children said "Tigger".

INVENTOR

Inventing the Artificial Heart - Click to Enlarge

Although largely self-taught, Paul Winchell pursued several educational avenues that inspired him as an inventor, hypnotist and acupuncture practitioner. Paul attended Columbia University in 1959 and became a Doctor of Acupuncture after graduating from The Acupuncture Research College of Los Angeles in 1974. Dr. Winchell worked at the Gibbs Institute in Hollywood as a medical hypnotist, creating new innovations in the field of hypnotherapy. He was honored by The National Christian University with an honorary doctorate in Science for his invention and patent of the artificial heart. Paul Winchell is the original patent holder of the artificial heart, which he donated to the University of Utah and spent time with Robert Jarvik and heart surgeon Dr. William Devries. The rest is history.

Very few people know that “Winch”-as he is called-was the first person to present the disposable razor to the public. Skeptics thought his disposable idea was crazy. "No one would buy a product and then throw it away", they said but how wrong they were. Unfortunately, at the time Paul put too much stock in the views of others and dropped the project. Another company applied the same concept and made billions on a product that is used worldwide today.

Congressional Record -
Click to Enlarge

Other inventions include the flameless cigarette lighter, illuminated pen- ballpoint (behind cartridge), the freezer interrupt indicator (which allowed people to see if their food had gone bad when their electricity was interrupted), battery heated gloves, a battery lighted key case, a portable blood plasma defroster, a sectional garment for hypothermia, a piezo-electric diaphragm, an aluminum electrical generator, novelty phonograph records, novelty upside down mask and mirror, a reversible alphabet that could be seen normally when shown in a mirror, rubber sand that allowed for the sturdy attachment of pictures to frames, an invisible garter belt and a retractable fountain pen.

THEOLOGIAN

A very pious mother-who believed every word in the Bible-raised him and using God as a threatening weapon with to keep her children obedient. As Paul grew and set out to make his mark in show business, he thought he had put all that behind him but instead he had deeply repressed most of his childhood. When his mother died it all erupted and he began to believe he was being haunted by her ghost and terrorized by her god. He read and re-read the Bible from cover to cover and discovered that the frightening portrait of God that mama had imposed on the family was indeed present in Scripture. This ultimately led him to formulate the theology that he presents in www.protectgod.com. See also Paul, Winchell, theologian.

To many, it might seem odd that a ventriloquist would pursue a career in theology, but, then again, many people are surprised to hear that Paul Winchell developed the artificial heart and many other inventions. Although the public might circumscribe a man’s limitations by his public identity, Paul has always been very careful not to limit his aspirations in any way and has been largely motivated, particularly for the last three decades, by what he considers pressing needs for addressing fundamental questions about the human condition.

Given his upbringing and some profound psychological problems that haunted the early and middle part of his adult life, Paul is concerned with the effect of fundamentalist religious belief on the human psyche, causing not only unnecessary fears and inner turmoil, but a kind of alienation of the human spirit from God as a fountain of love, hope and wisdom, as opposed to a God of fundamentalism which offers only torture and pain if one does not submit to irrational belief. For this reason, Paul has written and published a number of books on his own, as well as developing the amazing website, www.protectgod.com. In this website, Paul seeks to expose the irrational and dangerous portrait of God painted by scripture, undoubtedly influenced by hundreds of years of editing by a priesthood influenced by its own varying agendas, utilizing the holy books as a profound form of hypnotism and mind control.