Jonathan was born in 1925. His father, also Jonathan, was a banker who became an alcoholic after being crushed in the Great Depression. His parents divorced in 1932. Jonathan and his mother then moved to Springfield to live with his grandmother. There his mother remarried and became a radio personality. Jonathan joined the Marines during his senior year of high school. Upon his discharge, he entered Kenyon College & later transferred to Dayton Art Institute. He met his wife, Eileen Schauder, in 1948 and married a month later. They remain married until her death in January of 2009. They have a son, Jay, who is a contractor, and a daughter, Lucinda, who is a talent scout for movies.Jonathan got his start in show business by winning a talent contest. This led to a children's TV show in Dayton in 1950. This led to a game show and a talk show. Denied a requested raise, he moved the family to New York with only $56 in their pocket. Within two months, he was getting night club bookings.Jonathan suffered two nervous breakdowns, one in 1959 and another in 1961. He made ten Grammy-nominated comedy recordings and won once.