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Old 08-31-12, 06:51 PM   #1
Stealthammer
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Paul Winchell - 12/21/19226/24/2005 - ventriloquist, voice actor, comedian, inventor

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No real reason for posting this except that I made a very elegant Tilapia dinner for some friends last night, and when I bought up his name and described some of his achievements I was met with blank stares. Not only did my friends not know whoe he was, but they laughed at me when I described just how influencial and forward-thinking this man was, and now that they have had a chance to look him up, they are astonished at how this man could have lived and yet not be remembered.

Paul Winchell (12/21/1922–6/24/2005) - An American ventriloquist, voice actor, comedian, inventor, and humanitarian.....and many of us may remember him from his radio and tv shows in the late-'40s and throughout the '50s where his puppets Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff entertained and educated many of us early on.



Please check out his bio on Wiki if you are not familiar with this person's history. He is truely an American genius that has disappeared into obscurity and has never really been credited for his amazing intellect.

A few excerpts from his Wiki bio:

"Paul Wilchinsky was born in New York City, New York, the son of Solomon and Clara (Fuchs) Wilchinsky. His father was a tailor; his grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Poland and Austria-Hungary. Winchell's initial ambition was to become a doctor, but the Depression wiped out any chance of his family's ability to afford medical school tuition. At age 13, he contracted polio; while recovering, he happened upon a magazine advertisement offering a ventriloquism kit for ten cents. Back at school, he asked his art teacher, Jerry Magon, if he could receive class credit for creating a ventriloquist's dummy. Mr. Magon was agreeable, and Winchell named his creation Jerry Mahoney, by way of thanks."

"Winchell, who had medical training, was also an inventor, becoming the first person to build and patent a mechanical artificial heart, implantable in the chest cavity (US Patent #3097366)."

"He invented an artificial heart with the assistance of Dr. Henry Heimlich, the inventor of the Heimlich Maneuver, and held the first patent for such a device. The University of Utah developed a similar apparatus around the same time, but when they tried to patent it, Winchell's heart was cited as prior art. The university requested that Winchell donate the heart to the University of Utah, which he did."

"There is some debate as to how much of Winchell's design Dr. Robert Jarvik used in creating Jarvik's artificial heart. Dr. Heimlich states, "I saw the heart, I saw the patent and I saw the letters. The basic principle used in Winchell's heart and Jarvik's heart is exactly the same." Jarvik denies that any of Winchell's design elements were incorporated into the device he fabricated for humans — the Jarvik-7, which was successfully implanted into Barney Clark in 1982."


"In the 1980s Winchell, concerned about the starvation in Africa, developed a method to cultivate tilapia fish in tribal villages and small communities. The fish thrives in brackish waters, which made it particularly well suited for sub-Saharan Africa. Winchell appeared before a Congressional Committee with several other celebrities, including actors Richard Dreyfuss and Ed Asner, and Dr. Henry Heimlich. The Committee declined to finance a pilot program for the tilapia aquaculture project (in Africa) because it required digging a well into non-potable water, which the Committee deemed to be inadvisable."

Here is another link to a Washington Post article that was pubilshed upon his death.

Truely an amazing intellect and an amazing individual that does not deserve to be forgotten.......
>>>>>

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Old 08-31-12, 07:03 PM   #2
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I dealt with him briefly at the turn of the century. He was looking for someone to help him create a website so he could package some of his old shows. It was done via email even though he lived just a few miles away in Palm Desert. He was always a hero to me. As a kid I had two Jerry Mahoney vent dolls. So it was nice to be able to try and help him.

Back then that area was a hotbed of retired puppeteers. Shari Lewis lived up at the top of Highway 74.
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Old 08-31-12, 07:10 PM   #3
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I dealt with him briefly at the turn of the century. He was looking for someone to help him create a website so he could package some of his old shows. .....
Why do we let these true heros amongst us die and then we just forget them as though they never lived, as we let other far less honorable men who lived on with us be remembered and revered regardless of their tyranny?
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Old 08-31-12, 08:04 PM   #4
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I remember the show well. My high school biology teacher told us Paul Winchell's story. Thanks for the reminder.
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Old 08-31-12, 09:28 PM   #5
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It's Winchell-Mahoney time! Scotty-watty-doo-doo!

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