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Jerry Lewis, Comedy Legend, Dies at 91
http://variety.com ^ | 8/20/17 | Richard Natale, Carmel Dagan

Posted on 08/20/2017 12:32:47 PM PDT by Jim 0216

Jerry Lewis, the brash slapstick comic who teamed with Dean Martin in the 1950s and later starred in “The Nutty Professor” and “The Bellboy” before launching the Muscular Dystrophy telethon, has died in Las Vegas. He was 91.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes reported that he died at his home at 9:15 a.m. Sunday morning. Lewis’ agent has since confirmed the news to Variety.

Over the past ten years of his life, the cranky icon’s reputation soured slightly as he was forced to apologize for making a gay slur on camera during the 2007 telethon, continued to make racist and misogynistic jokes into his ’90s, and didn’t hesitate to share his right-wing political views.

In addition to his most famous films, Lewis also appeared in a number of notable works, such as Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” but was largely offscreen from the late ’60s on and was more active with his annual Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy telethon. Through the charity, he raised more than $2.45 billion before being relieved of his role as leader of the telethon in 2011. As late as 2016, Lewis continued to perform in Las Vegas, where he first debuted his comedy routine back in 1949.

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The high regard in which his comic abilities were held in France — he received the Legion of Honor award in 1983 — became a running joke in the U.S. long after Lewis’ style of broad physical comedy fell out of fashion. His final film, “Max Rose,” screened at France’s Cannes Film Festival in 2013.

The telethon, like other aspects of Lewis’ life, was beset by controversy. The comic’s offstage persona was anything but humorous. He was, by his own admission, an impatient man, and over the years battled numerous illnesses and a prescription drug dependency. His parting with Martin in 1956 after 10 years as a duo was acrimonious. And the telethons were awash in claims that there was a disparity between the money pledged and the money collected.

Lewis’ pairing with Martin, featuring their improvisatory backbiting and physical chicanery, was an instant hit in 1946. When producer Hal Wallis saw them performing at the Copacabana and at Slapsie Maxie’s in Hollywood, he saw the potential for a new Bob Hope and Bing Crosby and signed them to a Paramount Pictures contract.

For the next 10 years, Martin and Lewis turned out one silly film after the next starting with “My Friend Irma” in 1949 and including “The Caddy,” “The Stooge,” “Artists and Models” and “Pardners.” None of their films grossed less than $5 million, a handy sum in those days.

The premises of the films grew tired, and the more Martin and Lewis worked together, the more disparate they appeared. In 1956, after their film “Hollywood or Bust,” they made their last dual appearance at the Copacabana.

By the time of their breakup, Martin had a prosperous career as a recording artist and actor. And soon Lewis, too, was a hot solo ticket.

Shortly after they broke up, Lewis filled in for an ailing Judy Garland in Las Vegas. Over the next five years Lewis developed a slicker, more sophisticated stage persona and would continue to play Vegas until 2016.

Onscreen he made a go of it in such films as “The Delicate Delinquent” and “Rock-a-Bye Baby.” Lewis even had a million-selling single in the “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby” title track, which led to several albums on Decca Records.

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He then extended his efforts into writing, producing and directing films. The first two, 1961’s “The Ladies Man” and 1962’s “The Errand Boy,” showed him at his best. His talents also dovetailed with director Frank Tashlin’s style in films such as “Cinderfella” and “The Disorderly Orderly.”

“The Nutty Professor” (1963) was his biggest success ever, grossing $19 million. But by then his mugging and exaggerated body gyrations had become out of control, as had the syrupy moments in his films.

Lewis signed a nonexclusive deal with Columbia that resulted in several uninspired films such as “Three on a Couch,” “The Big Mouth” and “Don’t Raise the Bridge, Lower the River.” Even Lewis had to admit, “Jerry Lewis is never just OK or adequate; he’s either very funny or he’s awful.”

While Americans largely dismissed him, Lewis had developed a following at French film journals Cahiers du Cinema and Positif.

He was born Joseph Levitch in Newark, N.J. Both his parents were in show business and, at the age of 5, Lewis made his debut at a Borscht Belt hotel singing “Brother Can You Spare a Dime?”

Perhaps because his parents spent a great deal of time on the road, Lewis was demanding attention through humor by the time he was attending Irvington High School in New Jersey. By age 15 he was pantomiming operatic and popular songs and was booked into a burlesque house in Buffalo.

In 1942 he tried out his comic pantomiming at Brown’s Hotel in upstate New York, where he was also working the summer as a bellboy. Comic Irving Kaye was sufficiently impressed to land Lewis some bookings and became his road manager.

Lewis met the young singer Dean Martin at New York nightclub the Glass Hatt and was first paired with him in 1946. Afters years of rupture, Martin made a surprise appearance on the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon in 1976, and the pair reconciled after the death of Martin’s son in the late 1980s. (Martin died in 1995.)

In the early ’70s he continued to direct uninspired fare such as “Which Way to the Front?” and then tried a serious film, “The Day the Clown Cried,” though he famously shelved the completed work (some footage of it finally surfaced in 2013). He attempted a live TV variety show that failed, as did an attempt at a Broadway musical, “Feeling No Pain”; it was followed by the acrimonious “Hellzapoppin,” which was ditched out of town in Boston at a loss of $1.25 million.

In 1972 he lent his name to a string of 200 movie theaters for Network Cinema Corp., which led to bankruptcy proceedings in 1974. His heavy schedule also brought him to the verge of a nervous breakdown, serious ulcer problems and painkiller drug dependency. In 1982 he had double-bypass heart surgery and gave up his four pack-a-day smoking habit.

Lewis was offscreen until 1979’s low-budget “Hardly Working,” which he also directed; it did not reverse his fortunes. But in 1982, director Martin Scorsese harnessed the brash, cynical side of Lewis’ persona for the role of a kidnapped latenight talkshow host in “The King of Comedy.” Though he reportedly resented being upstaged by Robert De Niro and Sandra Bernhard, the film represented some of Lewis’ finest work. Another high point was a similarly caustic appearance as a lethal underworld figure on the TV series “Wiseguy.”

Most of his later film work, however, failed to impress, such as “Slapstick of Another Kind,” “Cookie” and 1992’s “American Dreamer.”

In 1995, he appeared in Peter Chelsom’s film “Funny Bones” and took over the role of the devil in a Broadway revival of “Damn Yankees,” which he took on tour in the U.S.; he then appeared in a London production of the musical.

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In 2003 he provided a guest voice on an episode of “The Simpsons”; in 2006 he did an episode of “Law and Order: SVU” in which he played the insane, morally befuddled but bizarrely benevolent uncle of Det. John Munch (Richard Belzer).

Lewis long sought to create a sequel to “The Nutty Professor”; eventually, Imagine Entertainment produced and Universal released the 1996 remake starring Eddie Murphy on which Lewis was credited for the screenplay to the 1963 version and as an executive producer.

Lewis also hoped to bring a musical adaptation of “The Nutty Professor” to Broadway. By summer 2012 an ailing but still enthusiastic Lewis made his stage helming debut with such a musical, with a score by Marvin Hamlisch and a book and lyrics by Rupert Holmes, in Nashville, where it played for seven weeks.

In 2013 Lewis starred in the long-gestating project “Max Rose,” written and directed by Daniel Noah and also starring Claire Bloom, Kevin Pollak, Kerry Bishe and Mort Sahl. Lewis played a jazz pianist who recently became a widower.

In 2009, Lewis received the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences’ Jean Hersholt Award for his charitable work. In May 2014, he added his footprints to those of other screen luminaries at the Chinese Theatre.

In 1944 Lewis married former band singer Patti Palmer, with whom he had six sons, Gary, Ronnie, Scott, Anthony, Christopher and Joseph, who died in 2009. Gary for a time had a rock career as the lead singer of Gary Lewis & the Playboys. The marriage ended in divorce.

He is survived by his second wife, SanDee Pitnick, with whom he adopted a daughter.


TOPICS: Breaking News; Culture/Society; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: braking; hollywood; jerrylewis; jerrylewisobit; searchworks
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1 posted on 08/20/2017 12:32:47 PM PDT by Jim 0216
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To: Jim 0216

RIP to one of the funniest guys ever.


2 posted on 08/20/2017 12:34:09 PM PDT by ealgeone
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To: Jim 0216

I couldn’t stand him.


3 posted on 08/20/2017 12:34:45 PM PDT by yarddog (Romans 8:38-39, For I am persuaded.)
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To: yarddog

He was the most polarizing guy in hollywood. I couldn’t stand him either.


4 posted on 08/20/2017 12:37:34 PM PDT by Celerity
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To: Jim 0216
Over the past ten years of his life, the cranky icon’s reputation soured slightly as he was forced to apologize for making a gay slur on camera during the 2007 telethon, continued to make racist and misogynistic jokes into his ’90s, and didn’t hesitate to share his right-wing political views.

It's nice to know that liberal moonbats aren't afraid to bully senior citizens to make themselves feel better about themselves.

5 posted on 08/20/2017 12:38:01 PM PDT by TigersEye (0bama. The Legacy is a lie. The lie is the Legacy.)
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To: Jim 0216

RIP

My wife grew up in Las Vegas across the street from Jerry.

Almost his is car when she was 16.


6 posted on 08/20/2017 12:38:16 PM PDT by Eddie01
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To: Jim 0216

RIP Mr. Lewis.


7 posted on 08/20/2017 12:39:13 PM PDT by Kickass Conservative ( THEY LIVE, and we're the only ones wearing the Sunglasses.)
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To: Jim 0216
Previously

8 posted on 08/20/2017 12:40:00 PM PDT by TangoLimaSierra (It's gonna be bloody.)
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To: yarddog

Really? His Buddy Love character was pretty good.

The telethons?


9 posted on 08/20/2017 12:40:29 PM PDT by Eddie01
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To: Eddie01

hit his car


10 posted on 08/20/2017 12:41:21 PM PDT by Eddie01
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To: Jim 0216
Image result

Image result for Jerry Lewis

Image result for Jerry Lewis

11 posted on 08/20/2017 12:42:15 PM PDT by ETL (See my FR Home page for a closer look at today's Communist/Anarchist protest groups)
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To: Jim 0216

A man from the golden age of Hollywood.

When the movies was full of people youngsters could genuinely look up to as role models. Gregory Peck, John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Charlton Heston and more.

We shall not see their likes again


12 posted on 08/20/2017 12:43:55 PM PDT by WashingtonFire (President Trump - it's like having your dad as President !)
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To: Jim 0216

If the investigations into election fraud had not taken place, would Jerry have been made into a Democrat voter now?


13 posted on 08/20/2017 12:44:28 PM PDT by OttawaFreeper ("If I had to go to war again, I'd bring lacrosse players" Conn Smythe)
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To: Jim 0216

14 posted on 08/20/2017 12:44:50 PM PDT by brianr10
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To: Jim 0216
Hey La-day!

Mitda Wolley!     Mitda Wolley!

15 posted on 08/20/2017 12:45:16 PM PDT by higgmeister ( In the Shadow of The Big Chicken)
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To: TigersEye

>>>Over the past ten years of his life, the cranky icon’s reputation soured slightly as he was forced to apologize for making a gay slur on camera during the 2007 telethon, continued to make racist and misogynistic jokes into his ’90s, and didn’t hesitate to share his right-wing political views<<<
>>>It’s nice to know that liberal moonbats aren’t afraid to bully senior citizens to make themselves feel better about themselves<<<

Because sharing your Right Wing Political Views is the same as making Racist and Misogynistic Jokes.

For his sake, I sure hope Don Rickles is a Liberal. LOL


16 posted on 08/20/2017 12:47:24 PM PDT by Kickass Conservative ( THEY LIVE, and we're the only ones wearing the Sunglasses.)
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To: Jim 0216

His prime was before I was born so I mostly knew him from the Labor Day telethons when I was a kid, but he did some great work for kids with those. RIP.


17 posted on 08/20/2017 12:48:52 PM PDT by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: Jim 0216

R.I.P. Jerry

When I was young I used to watch the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis show. I used to laugh until my belly ached.

He was one of the finest .


18 posted on 08/20/2017 12:50:07 PM PDT by Candor7 (Obama Fascism http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2009/05/barack_obama_the_quintessentia_1.html)
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To: Kickass Conservative

If he’s not liberal history will record Don Rickles as a more heinous barbarian than Attila the Hun or Ghengis Khan!


19 posted on 08/20/2017 12:51:23 PM PDT by TigersEye (0bama. The Legacy is a lie. The lie is the Legacy.)
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To: TigersEye

No kidding. I wonder when Meathead Rob Reiner will pass away, will he’ll be referred to as a polarizing leftist? Naw.


20 posted on 08/20/2017 12:52:13 PM PDT by Extremely Extreme Extremist (We're right, you're wrong - that's the end of the argument.)
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