Paul Winchell

On this date in 1922, Paul Winchell (né Wilchinsky) was born to Jewish parents in New York City. He contracted polio at age 13 and became interested in ventriloquism, a field in which he showed considerable talent, appearing on popular children’s television shows “The Paul Winchell Show” (1950-54) and “Winchell-Mahoney Time” (1965-68). He was also a voice actor, most notably providing the voice of Tigger for the television show “Winnie the Pooh” (1968-99).

Winchell’s voice was also used in “The Fox and the Hound” (1981) and “The Smurfs” (1984-86) and he appeared as a guest on shows such as “The Beverly Hillbillies” (1962) and “The Brady Bunch” (1971). In 1974 he won a Grammy for best children’s recording for his voice acting in “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too.”

Winchell was also an inventor with 30 patents, including a prototype of the first artificial heart in 1963, which was used for research at the University of Utah. His books include Ventriloquism for Fun and Profit (1954) and his autobiography Winch (2004). He was married three times and had three children.

In 1982 he published God 2000: Religion Without the Bible, which discussed bible contradictions and disputed the existence of a biblical god. He wrote, “It is essential to understand that true freedom of Religion must include freedom from Religion.” But he also expressed deist views in his 2004 book Protect God, published the year before his death at age 82. (D. 2005)

PHOTO: Winchell with puppet Jerry Mahoney in 1951; James Kriegsmann public domain photo.

Freedom From Religion Foundation