Paul Winchell was an American ventriloquist, comedian, actor, voice actor, humanitarian, and inventor, who voiced Tigger in the Winnie the Pooh franchise, Sam-I-Am, Guy-Am-I, and some of the Sneetches in Dr Seuss on the Loose, Shun Gon the Chinese Cat in The Aristocats, Boomer in The Fox and the Hound, Gargamel from The Smurfs, and Zummi Gummi in the first five seasons of Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears.
In Paul Winchell's earlier years, he worked as a hypnotist helping people undergo surgery. He also had been an inventor, with some of his ideas being an artificial heart and a flameless cigar lighter. A patent for one of his ideas, a disposable razor, was disapproved on the basis it was considered ridiculous for people to buy razors to throw them away after a single-use. Ironically, that concept would soon become hugely popular.
Paul Winchell got into show business as a ventriloquist and had his own show called The Paul Winchell Show. He operated multiple puppets, two of his best-known ventriloquist dummies were named Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff. The Jerry Mahoney puppet now resides in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C..
During Paul Winchell's time on Winnie the Pooh and Gummi Bears in the latter part of the 1980s, he had taken an interest in famine and malnutrition. With actor Ed Asner, Paul Winchell lobbied Congress to appropriate foreign aid for landlocked nations to encourage the breeding of the tilapia fish, which was a source of protein and could survive in different types of waters. Although well researched, their idea was ultimately disapproved as it was felt aquaculture in Third World nations that lacked access to the ocean was inadvisable.
Paul Winchell was married three times, fathering five children. Through his second marriage to British actress Nina Russel, he had a daughter, April Winchell, who later became a voice actress herself.
- Paul Winchell's co-star, John Fiedler (voice of Piglet) passed away at the age of 80 on June 25, 2005, one day after Paul Winchell's death.
- Paul Winchell and his puppet Jerry Mahoney masqueraded as Romeo and Juliet in the short-lived game show, Storybook Squares.
- Paul Winchell was considered to voice Little John in Robin Hood.
- Paul Winchell was also considered to voice Luke in The Rescuers.