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Jerry Lewis

  • Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey
  • Birthday: March 16
Date of passing: 
August 20, 2017

Jerry Lewis was an actor, comedian, writer, director, producer, singer, humanitarian and philanthropist who was widely regarded as one of the iconic entertainment figures of the 20th century and a major influence on countless others who followed him.

Jerry Lewis was an actor, comedian, writer, director, producer, singer, humanitarian and philanthropist who was widely regarded as one of the iconic entertainment figures of the 20th century and a major influence on countless others who followed him.

The son of vaudeville entertainers, Lewis began performing professionally in his teens and achieved early success in nightclubs, first as a solo performer and later, on a massive scale, as a duo with singer Dean Martin. The two men, who delighted audiences with the contrast between Lewis' frantic slapstick and Martin's nonchalant sex appeal, quickly segued from nightclubs to theaters to the motion picture screen.

At their peak, they were among the top box-office draws in the industry as stars of a string of popular films, which included My Friend Irma, At War with the Army, That's My Boy, The Stooge, The Caddy, Artists and Models and Hollywood or Bust.

They also headlined their own television program, The Colgate Comedy Hour, which aired from 1950 to 1955. In 1952 they won an Emmy Award for Best Comedian or Comedienne.

After the pair parted ways in 1956, after 10 years together, both enjoyed successful solo careers. Lewis garnered acclaim for writing, producing and directing many of his own films, which included The Bellboy, The Ladies Man, The Errand Boy and The Nutty Professor. He also made countless live appearances, television specials and guest spots, recorded popular albums and much more. In 1982 he garnered widespread critical acclaim for his performance as a late-night talk-show host in the film The King of Comedy, starring Robert DeNiro and directed by Martin Scorsese.

Lewis also served as national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which he and Martin had supported for years, and he hosted the live Labor Day broadcast of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon for 44 years. 

In addition to an Emmy, the Television Academy honored Lewis with its Governors Award in 2005, for his prodigious body of work and his formidable humanitarian works. His other professional accolades included lifetime achievement honors from the American Comedy Awards, Los Angeles Film Critics Association and Venice Film Festival, as well as the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He also received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Lewis died on August 20, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was 91.

 

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Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis

Photo credit: 
AP Photo

AWARDS & NOMINATIONS

0 Wins1 Nominations

BEST COMEDIAN OR COMEDIENNE - 1952

  • Nominee
  • Jerry Lewis, as
  • n/a
  • NBC