Thursday, September 16, 2010

Jonathan Winters

I was told a story decades ago by a psychologist who had worked at one of those expensive private mental-health retreats where celebrities and the wealthy got whisked away out of sight when they started getting in trouble. I now believe the story is likely exaggerated, or sadly, even entirely apocryphal. Still, it is a good story, and I have hopes there may be some truth behind it. It is in fact true that the subject was in a private psych hospital in the 1950's and suffered from what we would now call Bipolar Affective Disorder. So maybe.

Jonathan Winters had left the retreat on pass one week in order to meet a contractual obligation at a Las Vegas hotel. Somewhere during the visit, he had gotten in trouble, reportedly being half-naked in a fountain and picked up. Upon return, his group psychologist, in true Northern California fashion, stroked his beard and asked "Well Jonathan, have learned anything from this experience?"

"Yes," replied Winters, "I learned that we should never land on this planet one at a time."

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