Tube City Almanac

June 29, 2005

All Winchell, All The Time

Category: default || By jt3y

Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. United States, and all the ships at sea. Let's go to press.

Oops! Wrong Winchell.

Continuing our efforts to be the Mon-Yough area's leading source of Paul Winchell information, I bopped over to Mark Evanier's "Point of View" last night. Evanier is a writer who's worked on a number of animated cartoons, and he's written extensively about June Foray, Daws Butler, and a number of the other great people who provide the voices for them.

Evanier pointed to a website from Winchell's daughter, April, who as it turns out is a radio talent and a voice-over artist in Los Angeles. She has a very funny (and very cynical) website, and you could spend hours wasting time there. (If it has a flaw, it's that it's too Hollywood-centric, but you could say that about a certain McKeesport-based blog, I suppose.)

Anyway, yesterday I wrote about Paul Winchell's fascinating life. April Winchell wrote that behind the funny voices and the brilliant mind lurked a very troubled and unhappy soul:

My father was an extremely gifted man. He did amazing things with his intellect. He contributed not only to television, but to medicine, society and technology. Some of you have even said that he was infinitely more talented than I will ever be. You're probably right. But I was never in competition with him, nor am I jealous of his accomplishments. I am very, very proud of them. I can honestly say that he left this world a better place than he found it.

I sometimes wish I too, could have had the experience others had of him. If I could have known only his public persona, I'm sure I would have had nothing but warm and happy memories of him. I envy you that.

But you must be fair and understand that he was my father. And even in the best of circumstances, no one has an idyllic, uncomplicated, painless relationship with a parent.

And these were not the best of circumstances. This was a terrible situation for all concerned. Every one of my siblings suffered more than you will ever know.

I'm sorry if you're disappointed, but it was not "Winchell Mahoney Time" at my house. It was dark and frightening and very, very sad. (...)

Imagine that your father writes a book depicting your loving and generous mother as a whore. Imagine him laying waste to your entire family, under the guise of "getting well." Imagine too, that all his memories are filtered through years of self-admitted drug abuse and mental illness, and bear no relation to the real events.

What would you do with that?

Others have said this more eloquently, so I'm hardly breaking any new ground here, but the Web has democratized communications in ways that we never thought possible, for better and for worse.

Now, despite what the editors of Wired magazine may think, it still doesn't have one-tenth of the reach of network TV, and there's a lot of dross on the 'net. Yet the good stuff is 10 times deeper and more emotionally powerful than anything on television.

While reading through April Winchell's site --- particularly if you go back to her entries in June 2004, when her father's book was released --- you can practically see this woman's heart break. It's remarkable and touching, and a little bit creepily voyueristic, all at the same time.

And before the Web, April Winchell would have had to let her father's book be the last word on their family situation. Maybe she could have sold her story to the National Enquirer. But would she have had the same credibility? Particularly because in the age of instant web publishing, we have third-parties who are able to corroborate her stories, like Evanier:

I obviously don't want to get in the middle of a family matter but people are writing me to ask if what she says is true or exaggerated or wacko or what. I'll just say that I don't think anyone who knew Paul well will think that any of her comments are out of line, and some might be surprised at the amount of compassion shown. ...

A little after 7:00 Saturday evening, April posted on her site that she had just received a call from someone telling her that her father had died. So I heard about it around 21 hours before she did, and I posted it on my site more than an hour before anyone thought to call and inform the man's daughter. That ought to tell you something.

Indeed it does. Meanwhile, someone sent me a great line from a Slashdot interview with Wil Wheaton, best remembered as "Wesley Crusher" on TV's Star Trek: The Next Generation:

Q. It seems that most child actors end up growing up to be crack-heads, drug-dealers, low class porn actors/actresses, and/or dead from bullets or drugs. How did you avoid all that mess? Was it easy or hard to avoid? Was there a point in your life where you had to make a conscious choice? What would you say to other child actors to help them avoid the pitfalls of early fame?

WW: I think not being on Diff'rent Strokes had a lot to do with it.


Wait a second ... when did this turn into a celebrity site, for crying out loud? I couldn't care less about celebrities. (Although I suppose we're really stretching if Wil Wheaton and Paul Winchell are falling into the category of "celebrities.")

Well, since we're on a Hollywood/entertainment kick all of a sudden, you may recall that I mentioned the cartoon "Underdog" a while back. Several sources are reporting that our friends at Team Rodent are bringing out a movie based on "Underdog."

And they're planning to use live dogs.

With computer graphics to make the dogs "talk."

Pardon me while I go retch.

David Germain of the AP calls it "a debacle in the making." Yeah, having seen the way Hollywood destroyed "Rocky and Bullwinkle" a few years ago (turning the charming old cartoon show into a live-action box office bomb) that sounds about right.

Tomorrow, we get out of this entertainment pop-culture sewer and back to important things, like 30-year-old news you can't possibly use from Our Fair City and vicinity. Thanks for your patience.

Your Comments are Welcome!

UPDATE: If anyone cares, and I strongly doubt that, a second perusal of April Winchell’s website reveals a large amount of not-safe-for-work content. Suffice to say, it’s rated PG-13 and maybe R in a few places.

Sorry about that; and not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I thought you deserved fair warning. I know some of you have delicate constitutions.
Webmaster (URL) - June 29, 2005

I’ll send her $3 if she gets my cr***y windows media player to work…

(wish I could dig up that review of ‘Winch’, I’ll bet it’s a doozy….)
heather - June 30, 2005

I want to send an email to APril Winchell. What is her email address? Thanks!
H Rubin - July 14, 2005

I know; and a donation too! The way she’s got her web-shite structured makes it hard to penetrate her fortress of sardonicism. And you just want to say: “I want a copy of that review!” “We think you’re amazing!” “Is the butcher the only one who gets to see your ta-ta’s?!”

oops. This is pennsylvania.

As you were….....
heather - July 29, 2005

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