This Brady Bunch character actor invented an artificial heart

Originally published at:


Luckily most cases of Bradycardia can be treated with less invasive procedures.


He’s also father to voice actor and radio personality April Winchell.


Although their cavalier attitude toward STDs such as Mumps remains problematic!


You must be showing your young age.

Paul Winchell is well known to those of us in our 60s or 50s. He was one of the three most famous ventriloquists in the 1950s and 1960s along with Edgar Bergen and Sherry Lewis. His main vent dummies were Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff. They were a fixture on Saturday kids TV.


When you want to talk about those figures who’ve truly Made America Great, it’s people like Paul Winchell. I had no idea he played this character on “The Brady Bunch”, which only ups the Greatness by several orders of magnitude.


I remember him mainly for the voice work he did for Saturday morning cartoons. Had no idea he was an inventor as well. Though I suppose the idea that anyone who made a living as a ventriloquist was also a nerd shouldn’t be too surprising.


A true mutant’s mutant.


Here is one of the reviews of his autobiography on Amazon. I have no way of assessing its veracity, but the content is pretty disturbing:
The post claiming “A certain relation” (His ONLY DAUGHTER- who was not even MENTIONED in the book) inspired non-readers to write reviews is completely false. I happen to know the “relation” and I know for a fact she did not “ask her listeners” to write reviews, and as for his claim she did nothing about it- exactly what would she do to stop them? Call Amazon? That people wrote in with venom is not a reflection of his daughter, but rather of Paul himself. It’s the fear of this sort of thing that keeps most people from abusing their children- the fear of having it blow up in your face. It is unfortunate that Paul did not think of this before writing this fictional biography- but alas, he did not. Payback sucks, no matter who you are. I also know the ex-wife he literally trashes in this book. I know she is a wonderful, funny and very talented woman who certainly did nothing to deserve to be portrayed as a shrew. Her only mistake was to marry Paul. I assure you- I read the book. It was awful, and very, very sad.
While he’s accomplished many, many wonderful things- writing honestly about his life is NOT one of them. For that, I believe this book is bad.
As a work of fantasy, it certainly captivates. But as a biography, it leaves far too many chunks MIA. I wish I could simply re-write my life- but the words do not change reality.
Paul battled many demons, and unfortunately lost. I feel sorry for him- such a comic genius, yet such a failure in life as a father and as a husband, but rather than helping to heal the pain and perhaps inspire someone somewhere to maybe NOT torment their children with horrible mental games like telling their young daughter that her mother was not actually shopping, but that she was dead. DEAD! What kind of children’s entertainer does something like that? A mentally insane one, that’s who. One who really needs to stop taking the drugs. Or at least switch drugs.
So read the book- have plenty of salt on hand- and you will witness a sad attempt at redemption through denial.
I for one do not forgive child abuse so easily. In fact, not at all. If there was any indication that he was sorry in this book, this review would be very different.
Since there is no apology- or even an acknowledgement- this book deserves a fat thumb down.
Paul, please- before it’s too late- face up to your mistakes, make some amends, ask for forgiveness- then, and only then- you will feel better. Don’t put it off- don’t die with this hanging over you!
I’d love to respect you again. I have hope…

1 Like

For those interested, here’s a short history of the artificial heart. Winchell may have invented and patented an artificial heart, but his device was not the first, nor did Jarvik really steal his design. Vladimir Petrovich Demikhov invented a primitive artificial heart back in 1938, which was implanted into a dog. It used diaphragms to pump blood, like Winchell’s and Jarvik’s design (though Demikhov’s were apparently powered by an electric motor). The diaphragm idea is rather natural as it mimics the squeezing action of the heart, thus providing a more or less natural pulsatile flow.

One person the history often leaves out is Clifford Kwan-Gett, who predated Jarvik as a surgeon working with Wilhem Kolff at the University of Utah. Kwan-Gett proceeded Jarvik by a number of years, and introduced a number of advances, such as using a pneumatic driving system that used passive filling to adjust the heart’s output depending on input, thus balancing the heart’s two ventricles automatically (Starling’s Law). Jarvik’s main contribution was adapting the heart to a smaller size, that could more easily fit in the chest of average people (not just calves, sheep, and really big men). Jarvik was a master of self-promotion and managed to get his name attached to the idea of “inventing the artificial heart;” but it took a lot of other advances to make it work; e.g., blood-compatible materials, control equipment that didn’t bang the hell out of blood, not to mention the previous development of artificial heart valves.

But it’s interesting to find out that Winchell was such a renaissance man.


Learning this about somebody that is dead is interesting, but in meeting people you often find weird super beings that have done so many things. It pays to talk to people, if they are willing.

Throughout my life I have met some amazing people. Much of that has been luck, and a lot of it has been asking people about themselves when stuck while waiting. My spouse is notorious for ending up in kitchens talking to cooks and chefs, often ending up with hard to find spices after we have eaten- unasked. (We are quite a pair.) Talking to people is hard, but wow, there are almost always neat people out there who have done amazing things. Even the people I don’t see eye-to-eye to have things to offer.

I’ve met people you things wouldn’t believe. Cinephiles on fire, shouldering attacks on Orion Pictures. I’ve met engineers that explained C-beams are another name for channel beams and lit. majors who think Tannhäuser Opera could be a metaphorical gate. All those moments will be lost … because they are unimportant and so am I. Time to cry.


Came to post this, but IMO her most excellent contribution to our culture is simply maintaining this collection:

1 Like

I went to Costco this week. :disappointed:


She’s also the founder of the delightful regretsy satirical website. People who don’t know her name and work might best recognize her as the voice of the main talking cow in the “Happy cows come come from California” milk campaign.


Then there is the episode “The Fender Benders” and the appearance of Jackie Coogan as Harry Duggan. Of course he was Uncle Fester in ‘The Addams Family’ but he was also the first certified Hollywood child superstar after appearing in Charlie Chaplin’s “The Kid” in 1921. And he was briefly married to Betty Grable.

David texted me a photo of the director of the commercial, a middle-age faux-hipster dressed in cartoonish psychedelic clothes.

I believe the word you are looking for is hippy, not faux-hipster. it was a faux-hippy, per Hollywood’s portrayal of them.

1 Like

Just loved Paul Winchell when I was a kid. Interesting that it was a small cameo on the Brady Bunch that’s getting more people in touch with his much greater accomplishments.

Portrayals of hippies and all young people on TV shows at the time (excepting the bold Smothers Brothers show) were tremendously, wincingly lame.

Saw the headline and thought Feh, Paul Winchell did it probably first, so, you know, sort of been there, done that. I was underwhelmed.
Then I read the piece and, well, stand corrected, sort of.

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.