American ventriloquist and inventor PAUL WINCHELL, the voice of TIGGER in Disney's Winnie The Pooh films, died in his Los Angeles home on Friday (24JUN05). He was 82.

The New Yorker led an extraordinary life, after contracting polio at the young age of six and fighting a speech impediment, he went on to be a huge success in all three of his chosen careers - in inventing, TV hosting and as an ventriloquist.

As an inventor, he patented over 30 ideas, including ones for an artificial heart, a disposable razor, a flameless cigarette lighter and an invisible garter belt.

After hosting children's TV shows in the 1950s and 1960s, he landed the voiceover role as the bouncing tiger in the Disney adaptations of Aa Milne's Winnie The Pooh stories in 1968 and provided Tigger's vocals until 1999.

His first outing as Tigger in WINNIE THE POOH AND THE BLUSTERY DAY contributed to the movie picking up an OSCAR for Best Short Film, and he went on to win a Grammy for Best Children's Recording for the song THE MOST WONDERFUL THINGS ABOUT TIGGERS from the film WINNIE THE POOH AND TIGGER TOO in 1974.

Winchell is survived by wife Jean, five children and three grandchildren.

26/06/2005 09:30