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April 12, 2013 at 05:14 PM EDT

Comedian Jonathan Winters, whose breakneck improvisations inspired Robin Williams, Jim Carrey and many others, has died at age 87.

Longtime family friend Joe Petro III says the Ohio native died Thursday evening at his Montecito, Calif., home of natural causes.

Winters was a master of improvisational comedy, with a grab bag of eccentric personalities and facial expressions. Characters such as the dirty old lady Maude Frickert were based on people Winters knew growing up in Ohio.

In the mid-1950s, The Jonathan Winters Show pioneered the then-new videotape technology on to do stunts like showing up as two characters on screen together.

He was introduced to millions of new fans in 1981 as the son of Williams’ goofball alien in the final season of ABC’s Mork and Mindy.


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