This morning David and I were texting each other about the Brady Bunch, which we often do because we love the show and so does every member of our families. We got to talking about the episode where the Bradys star in a laundry soap commercial. David texted me a photo of the director of the commercial, a middle-age faux-hipster dressed in cartoonish psychedelic clothes.
I got curious about who this actor was so I googled and learned his name was Paul Winchell (1922-2005). Boy, did he lead an interesting life! Here are some highlights (found on emmys.com):
- He got polio at the age of six. His legs atrophied but through weight training he was able to build the muscles to full strength
- He stuttered as a child. He learned ventriloquism as a way to get over his stuttering, and became an accomplished professional entertainer. He had his own variety show in 1950 and his wife on the show was played by Carol Burnett.
- He was the voice of Tigger in Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. He also lent his voice talents to The Jetsons, Wacky Races, The Flintstones, and Yogi Bear.
- As an actor he appeared on The Lucy Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, Perry Mason, The Brady Bunch, and Nanny and the Professor.
- In 1963 he invented an artificial heart, which was the prototype for the mechanical heart Robert K. Jarvik used in a successful transplant in the early 1980s.
- He held 30 patents for inventions including a fountain pen with a retractable tip, a flameless cigarette lighter, and an invisible garter belt.
- In 1989, Winchell was awarded $17.8 million when he successfully sued Metromedia Inc. for destroying the archival copies of his children's shows.
- His out-of-print autobiography, Winch (Foreword by Dr. Henry Heimlich, creator of the Heimlich Maneuver), sells for a small fortune on Amazon. His book Ventriloquism for Fun and Profit is available on Kindle for a few bucks. He also illustrated a book called Do-It-Yourself Acupuncture Without Needles, and wrote a book called God 2000: Religion Without the Bible.
An interesting person!