Jonathan Winters, the legendary comedian who died Friday at the age of 87, had a strong connection to Springfield and Dayton. Andrew McGinn of the Springfield News-Sun had a revealing interview with Winters before his death.
Andrew McGinn says Winters loved growing up in Springfield and his roots can be traced to the Clark County city at a very young age.
"Jonathan was born in Dayton. He moved to Springfield when he was only seven and pretty much spent his formative years in Springfield. And while most of the obituaries credited him with being a Dayton native, he really considered Springfield to be his hometown. This is where all of his childhood friend were and he would come back to visit Springfield well into his later years and his mom was a well known radio personality here in Springfield," McGinn said.
Winters was known for creating a cast of wacky characters and McGinn says the comedian developed those interesting personalities from his time growing up in the area.
"So much of his act he drew from his experience growing up in Springfield. You know, Maude Frickert, Elwood P. Suggins those everyday simpleton like characters. He admitted that they were from places like Urbana, Enon and Bellefontaine, places that he had been to as a kid. Little villages like Pitchin in Clark County. These characters became so beloved that it is sort of like he owes everything to this area, to Ohio, to this part of Ohio in particular," McGinn said.
Winters told McGinn that he felt like his life was in overtime because he had outlived his wife Eileen and most of the comedic legends he used to perform with.
McGinn says that Winters was not bitter about life but more reflective on how many wonderful times he had and how successful his career was.
Posing for a photograph with the Springfield News-Sun, Winters can be seen wearing a Springfield High School letter jacket and according to McGinn, Winters had so much pride in being from Ohio that he always carried a buckeye in his pocket.