Every time I write about a dead person I say, “no more.” And yet, so many interesting people continue to die. Maybe it’s something about being interesting that hastens death? In any event, I read about Paul Winchell’s death this afternoon.
As a kid I knew him as a ventriloquist; the straight man for Jerry Mahoney. The generation following mine knew him more as the voice of “Tigger” from Winney the Poo or numerous Saturday morning cartoons¹. Paul Winchell is the guy who first said, “TTFN – ta ta for now” – an ad lib during a Poo audio session!
I also knew he had something to do with a few medical inventions, including heart valves and an artificial heart!
Today, I decided to read about what he had done. Who knew there was a Paul Winchell website? They’ll have to change the slogan, “A living legend.”
I read his story of the artificial heart and there’s something about it that makes me uneasy. Maybe it’s his participating in his own son’s tonsillectomy or surgeries at a research hospital in Utah… I don’t know, I’m just uneasy.
I’ve been an observer in operating rooms in the past. It’s not that he was there, but that he was involved. And yet, if my current attitude would have prevailed, his inventions wouldn’t have gotten out.
Anyway, let’s leave it with me being uneasy and calling it a day.
The bigger story with Paul Winchell has to do with typecasting. Sometimes it’s easy to look at someone who has defined himself to the public with his work and forget that what you know might only be a small subset of the total person.
¹ – This is similar to the Anne B. Davis method of age estimation. If you look at a picture of Anne B. Davis and say, “Alice,” you’re under 50. If you look at a picture of Anne B. Davis and say “Schultzy,” you’re over 50. Simple. This can also be done with Bob Denver and Ron Howard.