Comedian Jerry Lewis Dies At 91
Actor, comedian, and philanthropist, Jerry Lewis, died Sunday morning at the age of 91. Lewis’ publicist, Candi Cazau, reported that the legendary comedian and filmmaker passed away at his home in Las Vegas following a brief illness.
Lewis rose to fame as part of a comedy duo alongside Dean Martin, entertaining the crowd with his frenzied comedy antics while the composed and debonair Martin crooned. The duo appeared together in 16 comedy films from 1948 to 1956, including My Friend Irma, At War With The Army, and Scared Stiff. The pair, silently and without explanation, went their separate ways after making Hollywood or Bust in 1956. The famed duo was not seen together on screen or TV for another two decades.
Lewis’ passing comes just before Labor Day, when he hosted his annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon from 1966 to 2010. The actor and philanthropist raised more than $2.6 billion for muscular dystrophy research over the 46 years the annual telethon was hosted. Lewis and Martin eventually reunited during the telethon in 1976 in a surprise encounter arranged by Frank Sinatra. The famous comedic pair reconciled after the passing of Marin’s son and made their final appearance together at Martin’s final live show in Las Vegas in 1989.
Although exploding into fame through his pairing with Martin, Lewis also had a substantial solo career. The actor made his directorial debut in 1960 with The Bellboy, a plot-less film that starred him as Stanley, a hotel bellboy, who gets into a series of slapstick shenanigans. Lewis went on to direct 12 more films between 1961 and 1983, including The Nutty Professor, a 1963 parody of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Lewis even gained a large cult following in France which became the subject of a 2001 book by Rae Beth Gordon titled Why The French Love Jerry Lewis. The comedian’s accolades continued in 2005 when he received the Primetime Emmy’s Governor’s Award for his philanthropic work on the Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon and honors from the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals. Lewis was also inducted into France’s Legion d’Honneur in 2006 on his 80th birthday.
The actor, singer, director and philanthropist, who began his career nearly eight decades ago, will be remembered for his perfect comedic timing and charitable heart.