Friday, September 16, 2011

Paul Winchell...

I wrote a review of Paul's book, Winch, in the spring of 2004. The book is an autobiography and it comes to terms with past experiences, offers forgiveness for earlier mistakes he made in his personal life, and there's what I consider some heavy commentary about the afterlife and other spiritual curiosities. Not to be missed is the description of his feelings while inside a morgue aiding in an autopsy. Prior to purchasing the book I had somewhat of an idea what the book would be about based upon earlier reviews but one never knows until one purchases it for themselves. The only thing I will say is the book is candid and it tells the story of a man who had faults and flaws (just like we all do) but I have seen several reviews balk at the idea that he shouldn't have been so honest or so tell-all. The idea that he shouldn't write a book about his personal demons and what he went through in his life would be like evading reality and so it was necessary to include this information.

This kind of book, filled with one-sided recollections, was bound to create a stir from those who are in the book and the best a lot of us can do is just judge for ourselves. There are many sides to stories...Paul told how he felt, which it's his life story and who are we to say he's right or wrong?

The book is a fascinating story even though it jumps around from decade to decade without a lot of focus on any particular aspect of his career which enables the book to not necessarily be a career-oriented story. There's a lot of recollections about the pressures of show business and how fickle fame can be but this is a life story in every sense of the word in that it deals with his life's experiences and there's a lot of discussion about his trips to see psychiatrists and there's memorable recollections of outright rage and torment stemming from insecurities, paranoia, and his struggles with what I'd consider to be a dominating mother. Those who are wanting to read a career life story of Paul Winchell will just have to wait until someone comes along and writes a book about Paul which focuses on his stage life and voice work in cartoons. I'd be in line to buy such a book if it were to come into print. I grew up hearing his voice long before I knew of his career and his impact on children's programming. Tigger...Gargamel...Dick Dastardly...are what I call the "big 3". I remember watching an episode of Dick Van Dyke on TV and Paul Winchell was a guest star. It was the first time I had seen Winchell on TV. I was born in 1976 and so i'm more familiar with Paul's cartoon work. Anyway, after reading the book I do have a better picture of Paul, the man, but that in no way shape or form makes me not like his work given his life's experiences and mistakes. I still get a kick out of his voice work in animation and seeing his TV clips on-line with his puppet's. As I said at the start, it's a fascinating story...and there are plenty of pictures as well!

Paul Winchell passed away on June 24, 2005 at the age of 82. In one of the most ironic scenarios in all of Hollywood happened the next day on June 25 when John Fielder passed away at the age of 80. Fielder had long been the voice of Piglet on the Winnie the Pooh cartoons. Paul, mentioned earlier, was the voice of Tigger in those same cartoons and it was truly bizarre that the two of them would pass away a day apart from each other. A month earlier, in May 2005, Howard Morris had passed away. In addition to being a face actor and director, Morris was the voice of the Gopher in the Winnie the Pooh cartoons from the beginning through 1988 when he retired from the role.