Comedian Mike Winters dies at 82
- 27 August 2013
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
Mike Winters, who became a household name in a comedy double-act with his brother Bernie, has died in Gloucestershire aged 82.
The duo rose to fame in the mid-1950s with Mike playing the straight man to his goofy brother.
They worked together for two decades, touring and appearing on TV shows such as Sunday Night At The Palladium.
The brothers fell out in 1978 but, despite later reconciling, never performed together again.
Born Michael Weinstein in 1930 in north London, the elder Winters brother won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied the clarinet.
He formed a trio, with Bernie on drums, and gained experience at the Stage Door Canteen in London - an entertainment venue for wartime servicemen - before working comedy into the act.
After winning a talent contest with the prize of three-day engagements in UK coastal resorts, the pair quickly developed their routines and went on to entertain US troops across Europe.
They were noticed by a BBC producer while touring on the variety circuit with Tommy Steele in 1957. He offered them a spot as resident comics on The 6.5 Special, which made them household names.
Bernie played the loveable idiot, coining catchphrases such as "choochie face" and "shut up or I'll smash your face", while Mike set up the gags.
In the 1960s, the duo appeared on both the big and small screen.
As well as starring in three Royal Variety Shows and Big Night Out, they also appeared alongside Frankie Howerd and Tommy Cooper in the Michael Winner film The Cool Mikado in 1963.
By 1965 they were fronting their own ITV programme - Mike and Bernie's Show - which ran until 1973.
However, the pair split up acrimoniously five years later, with Bernie pursuing a successful solo career with his St Bernard dog, Schnorbitz, until his death in 1991.
Mike moved to Miami where he embarked in various business ventures and also wrote thriller novels.
He published a memoir in 2010, The Sunny Side of Winters, and later returned to the UK to settle in Gloucestershire.
His wife of 57 years, Cassie, told The Daily Mirror: "He was funny right up until the end. He would be in bed and very quiet - and then he would say something that would make everyone laugh.
Winters is survived by his wife and two children.