With a career spanning more than six decades, Winters appeared in hundreds of television show episodes/series and films combined, including eccentric characters on The Steve Allen Show, The Garry Moore Show, The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters (1972–74), Mork & Mindy, Hee Haw, and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
After voicing Grandpa Smurf on The Smurfs (1986–89) and Papa Smurf in The Smurfs (2011 film), Winters’s final feature film was The Smurfs 2 in 2013, which is dedicated in his memory.
A pioneer of improvisational stand-up comedy with a gift for mimicry, impersonations, various personalities, and a seemingly bottomless reservoir of creative energy, Winters was one of the first celebrities to go public with a personal mental illness issue and felt stigmatized as a result. According to Jack Paar, “If you were to ask me the funniest 25 people I’ve ever known, I’d say, ‘Here they are—Jonathan Winters.’” He also said of Winters, “Pound for pound, the funniest man alive.”
In 1991 Winters earned an Emmy Award for his supporting role in Davis Rules. In 1999 Winters was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. In 2002 he earned an Emmy nomination as a guest star in a comedy series for Life With Bonnie. In 2008 Winters was presented with a Pioneer TV Land Award by Robin Williams. Winters also spent time painting and presenting his artwork, including silkscreens and sketches, in many gallery shows. Additionally, he authored several books. His book of short stories, titled Winters’ Tales (1988), made the bestseller lists.