An excerpt from the upcoming book by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary: The Santa Barbara Writers Conference Scrapbook — Words of Wisdom from Thirty Years of Literary Excellence 1973 – 2003
In 1981 new Santa Barbara resident and international funny man Jonathan Winters joined the speakers at the SBWC. While well-known for his antics as a comedian, Jonathan was also an accomplished artist and writer. His autobiography, I Couldn’t Wait for Success, So I went on Without It deals with his life in Ohio, the Marines, and show business. Jonathan said he thought it was something that boys like him from Ohio could make good. He addressed the audience attired in military camouflage, wearing a jaunty beret.
“I suppose you are wondering why I am dressed like this,” he said. “We are living in violent times. Many of us are begging to get paranoid. I’ve always been paranoid. I was in the Marines.”
His love for his home and Ohio was very real. At age seven he shook hands with Orville Wright, and forty years later he shook hands with Neil Armstrong—both born in Ohio. “To me,” Jonathan said, “that’s America—the fact that a man from a little tiny town in the Middle West was the first man to step on the moon. I think its much chic-er than for someone from New York, Chicago, St. Louis or San Francisco to do it.”