Legendary comedian JERRY LEWIS died of natural causes yesterday at his home in Las Vegas. He was 91. According to a CNN report, he’d been “slightly ill,” and had spent some time in the hospital. But he’d recently been released, and was making plans for future appearances.
Jerry was famous for his slapstick style of humor . . . and his career launched in 1946 when he and DEAN MARTIN formed the comedy duo Martin and Lewis.
They started out in nightclubs, but eventually did a little of EVERYTHING . . . including radio, TV, over a dozen movies, and a DC comic series, all within about 10 years. But they had a falling out in 1956 that lasted 20 years.
Jerry then launched a big-time solo career, which included the original “Nutty Professor”, “The Bellboy”, “Cinderfella”, “The Patsy”, and “The Disorderly Orderly”. He didn’t do many movies later in his career. One of his last notable roles was the 1982 Martin Scorsese movie “The King of Comedy”.
He was probably just as well-known for hosting the annual telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. He did telethons for them from 1952 to 1959, and then hosted one EVERY Labor Day weekend from 1966 to 2010.
Over the years, he raised over $2.6 BILLION for MDA . . . but in 2011, he was pushed out, and no longer did the telethons or was associated with the organization. And the telethon was discontinued in 2015.
It’s unclear exactly what went down between Jerry and the MDA, but they apparently made up, because he filmed a video statement for their website last year. The MDA says Jerry “retired,” but it was clearly a forced split.
Jerry also made up with Dean on one of those telethons. Frank Sinatra surprised him by bringing Dean out onstage, and they basically made up right then and there, after not talking for two decades.
Jerry has TWO stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for TV and another for film . . . and in 2009, he got a humanitarian award at the Oscars.
It was about a failed circus clown who’s hired to entertain and distract children as they are led into a Nazi gas chamber during the Holocaust. Jerry was so embarrassed about how it came out, he has vowed that no one will ever see it.
(Here are some random scenes from “The Nutty Professor”, here’s a video with Martin and Lewis clips, here’s them doing “That’s Amore“, here’s video of Sinatra reuniting Jerry and Dean, and here’s a clip from his final stand-up performance from earlier this year.)