Jonathan Winters, the legendary and inspirational comic actor, died on Thursday evening at his home in Montecito, Calif., of natural causes. He was 87.

Winters got his start when he won a local talent contest in Dayton, Ohio. After that bit of recognition, he landed gigs on the radio, at comedy clubs and was given the opportunity to record his own comedy album. As his reputation grew, Winters was invited to appear on the late night shows hosted by Johnny Carson, Jack Paar and Steve Allen, respectively.

Eventually, Winters took roles on the big screen. His 50 film credits include 1963’s It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and The Flintstones. In 1967, Winters got his own TV show, The Jonathan Winters Show, which ran for three seasons.

Reflecting on his illustrious career in comedy in 2011, Winters told Weekend Edition Saturday, "I have always classified [myself] as an actor/comedian, a humorist.. I started out as an artist and what I do is verbal paintings. I paint a picture. Hopefully you'll see the characters and what they're doing and what they're saying."

Winters’ wife, Eileen Schauder Winters, whom he had been married to for over 60 years, died in 2009. Winters is survived by his two children and his five grandchildren.