During his life, Jonathan Winters was an iconic American comedian, actor, author and artist He was a regular on Hee Haw, Mork & Mindy, The Tonight Show and many others. He was even the voice of Papa Smurf!

Jonathan Winters

Jonathan Winters

Robin Williams calls him his mentor. Comedy Central ranks him as the 18th best comic of all time. His accolades are vast — 11 Grammy nominations and a Grammy Award for the Best Spoken Comedy Album.

But did you know that Winters also had a passion for a local youth music nonprofit?

“In 1990, I met Jonathan Winters and invited him over for dinner,” Star Jasmine Music Foundation Executive Director Nancy Earle said. “He wanted two desserts, but his wife said, ‘Only one!’ Of course, he had me sneak him another piece. He was witty and funny with every breath.” 

Over dinner, Earle told Winters about a CD they were producing to raise money for music outreach and to gift instruments to those in need.

“After dinner Jonathan pulled out a piece of stationary and penned an incredible endorsement letter for the Star Jasmine Foundation,” sh said. “The icing on the cake was that he also accepted the position as honorary chairman of the foundation.”

With Winters’ help, the Star Jasmine Music Foundation produced a great album featuring Van Morrison, Ginger Baker, Kenny Logins, Dave Mason and Jackson Browne, to name just a few.

“While we mourn the death of Jonathan Winters, we celebrate the laughter he brought to the world and the goodwill he brought to our organization,” said Luke Archer, board member of the Star Jasmine Music Foundation. “Jonathan’s support allowed us to produce the Star Jasmine CD; 100 percent of the revenues from CD sales go to funding for our youth music program JAMS.”

JAMS is a volunteer-run music school at 631½ N. Milpas St. that gifts instruments and lessons to at-risk youths in the Santa Barbara area.

“We are very grateful to Mr. Winters, and we would like to recognize his extraordinary generosity and kindness,” Archer said. “He will be sorely missed.”

Winters’ endorsement letter and the Star Jasmine CD are available online by clicking here.

— Luke Archer is a board member for the Star Jasmine Music Foundation.