Remembering Jonathan Winters and Our Encounter
by Tricia Spencer on 04/12/13
It is with sadness that today we learn of the passing of the great Jonathan Winters. He was one of the naturally funniest people to ever grace the planet, and we, his fans, are better for having been the recipients of his amazing work in the entertainment industry.
My husband and I have always been huge admirers of Mr. Winters, always making sure to check out anything he was involved in. And we even had the opportunity to meet him...sort of.
It was in the 1980s, a time when my husband and I owned and operated our unique fleet of limousines. We had been asked to provide limousine service for a ChildHelp event at the home of Milton Bradley in Montecito, CA. Jane Seymour (who I met when working on the miniseries, The Awakening Land), was Childhelp's national spokesperson at the time, and she invited my husband and I to attend the festivities.
Well, we aren't exactly "Hollywood types" so it was mighty overwhelming to say the least. The staggering number of celebrities just milling around on the gorgeous grounds where the luncheon and events were taking place, made our heads spin. But not wanting to offend, we didn't try to engage anyone. We also didn't take a camera for fear of looking out of place. Alas, almost all of the attendees, including the celebrities, had cameras and were snapping away.
We found ourselves standing on a grassy hill just "star-gazing", taking it all in, when out of the blue, Jonathan Winters, resplendent in his military-style afternoon attire, walked right up to us. He stood just before us, hands behind his back, slightly rocked back on his heels, and said, "What do you think they're serving for lunch?"
It was such a simple question, but gremlins had apparently stolen our ability to speak, for both my husband and I just stood there, mute. We didn't utter a word. We were completely, utterly, stupidly, star-struck. After an awkward moment of silence, Mr. Winters said, "O...kay", turned, and wandered off. How embarrassing. Yet it was one of our most memorable moments. Jonathan Winters, the JONATHAN WINTERS, had walked up to us to begin a conversation. Too bad we couldn't participate. Oh my. What dolts we were.
Mr. Winters was an extraordinary comedian and a very fine human, and his larger-than-life presence will be missed. But for my husband and I, we'll always have that certain, one-sided conversation to hold dear to our hearts. We can only hope that we returned the favor and that our wide-eyed, deer-in-the-headlights, silent greeting that day gave the funny man a little something to laugh about.