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Paul Winchell, TTFE, Ta Ta Forever

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Today's Los Angeles Times reports that famed ventriloquist and kid TV vet, Paul Winchell, died at his home in Moorpark on Friday.The Times obit says:

Although he was a legendary ventriloquist and built a career attracting legions of followers of that dwindling art, Winchell's most durable legacy may be his rich voice as Tigger and other animated characters on television and in motion pictures. He became the lovable Tigger in 1968 for Disney's "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day," which earned an Academy Award for best animated short film. Winchell continued to voice A.A. Milne's imaginative little tiger on television and the big screen through "Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving" in 1999.

It was Winchell, crediting his British-born wife, who came up with Tigger's signature phrase "TTFN," or "Ta-ta for now."

LAist has fond memories of Winchell's kid's TV show 'Winchell Mahoney Time",
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broadcast each week on Metromedia Channel 11; therefore, it's disheartening to learn that Metromedia erased all the tapes of those shows, the last remanants of Winchell's live ventriloquist act, in a syndication dispute with Winchell. That act of spite cost the station a lot of money in 1986 when a jury awarded Winchell $17.8-million in his subsequent lawsuit against Metromedia Inc.

We loved Winchell so much we immediately recognized his voice. We loved his laugh as Fleegle on the "Banana Splits Adventure Hour" and held our own in spirited debates with our older sister about whether he was the true owner of the Winchells Donut chain. We hate to admit it but it looks like we were wrong about that one. O well, Winchell did invent the prototype for the first artificial heart...