Ohio farmboy. Ex-Marine. Comic genius and certified nut-case. I am reminded of Buk's criticism of Hemingway: he was at war all the time. Jonathan Winters was never at war. In fact, he treated his characters with real warmth. That's why his portrayals of bumbling hicks and quaint eccentrics left no bad aftertaste.
I think that he played, like Johnny Cash, to the folks back home and not to his intellectual superiors in NYC or wherever. Jonathan Winters was a "clean" comic who had an edge. That edge was the line between sanity and insanity. He crossed it. He didn't make a "thing" of it. He was very old school and didn't put his problems on his sleeve like a sensitive guy, a whore for publicity and blah, blah, blah. In other words, Winters didn't pimp his own craziness. He played it down like a true madman, afraid of his own interior.
In any case, Winters is the exact opposite of the writers and comedians I generally favor. I love the vulgar. I love the little guy with a great big agenda. I love the over-sized chip on the shoulder of a frail and howling man. I even loved Hemingway's constant state of war until I heard Gore Vidal criticize him as prissy and "impeccable". Bukowski never had a problem with sanitized prose. I love Buk's raw grace and brewing rupture. Winters also had brewing rupture but in an apparently benign and "normal" package. He was a real comic genius and a real nut-case. Embarrassed by the volatility of his talent. Afraid of his own wild imagination.