Fans of the “Police Academy” franchise may have noticed a familiar face in the audition round of this season of “America’s Got Talent.” Michael Winslow starred in all seven films and was admired for his work in the movie “The Gremlins,” on the show “Love Boat” and more. But Winslow seemingly walked away from it all right at the peak of his career.
“I had become a widower at that time,” Winslow revealed. “I pretty much had chosen to raise the kids, I pretty much had walked with the movie industry. I was still doing live and stand-up things, but I pretty much just walked away from all of it because there was just no way to do that, and have to choose between my children or the business. And you know what the answer is,” Winslow said.
Though some took his absence as the end of his career, contrary to appearances, Winslow actually never stopped working. Instead of television and movies, he toured the world making appearances, doing commercials and more
“Even though I wasn’t in California, I got to go to everywhere else, ‘cause travel-wise, you’re there and then you’re home,” Winslow said. “People were making productions outside of California anyway, so turns out I was making potato chip commercials in Australia for Arnott Snack Foods. Turned out I was doing Pioneer Stereo in New Zealand,” he said. “So my production experience continued, but thank goodness [for] this thing called people, called fans, called the folks that simply liked what I did, and they continued to support me.”
With his kids grown up, and with their encouragement, Winslow decided to return to TV in his own way. Arguably the most recognizable name to ever do so, Winslow auditioned for season 16 of “America’s Got Talent.”
“The first thing I noticed about AGT is you can pretty much go on there as is, as yourself,” Winslow said. “You can walk in there with what’s in your mind as opposed to what someone tried to make you think.” Winslow’s act included noises and sound effects for which he is well-known.
He admitted that as an army kid it was hard to make friends growing up and he developed his talent as what he calls a ‘voicetramentalist’ while on his own. “I basically created my own soundtrack — a wall of sound. An audio tapestry. Thank goodness there was an outlet for that,” he said.
On the AGT stage, Winslow was adored by the judges, with judge Simon Cowell turning out to be a longtime fan.
“I was glad to see the fact that he was a fan, that they’re all receptive and open. This makes a performer feel so much better,” Winslow said. “And I hope that I’m going to be able to help other performers as well because part of the reason why I also came back was to be able to, you know, spread a little bit of knowledge and leave a couple of gifts behind as my way of saying thank you to everybody. And, hopefully, the young ones will pick it up and run with it,” he added.
Winslow was given full votes to go to the next round and will be seen in the upcoming live episodes of “America’s Got Talent.”