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#TheUnknownHustle: Paul Winchell

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Paul Winchell was a Hollywood fixture for most of his life. He was a master ventriloquist who made multiple appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show before hosting his own shows with his dummy sidekicks Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff.

 

Winchell was also the voice actor behind Dick Dastardly, Gargamel, and Boomer from The Fox and The Hound, but is best known as the original voice of "Tigger" from Disney's Winnie the Pooh.

 

After rising to the top of Hollywood, Winchell took a left turn and attended Columbia University in 1970 as a pre-med student. He later studied acupuncture, hypnotism, and theology, according to his obituary in The New York Times. Winchell was also an inventor with over 30 patents to his name. Some of his inventions include a flameless lighter, battery-heated gloves, and one of the first artificial hearts.

 

The Atlantic notes that after pitching his idea to Dr. Henry Heimlich, the creator of the Heimlich maneuver, Winchell built and patented an early mechanical heart in 1963. The device had an external motor that would connect to the artificial heart inside the body with a "drive shaft." Winchell's version was never implanted on a human, though he maintains that his work influenced Dr. Robert Jarvik, the creator of the style artificial heart most commonly used today.

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