Jerry Lewis
American comedian, actor, film producer, writer and film director
Jerry Lewis
Jerry Lewis is an American comedian, actor, singer, film producer, screenwriter and film director. He is best known for his slapstick humor in film, television, stage and radio. He was originally paired up with Dean Martin in 1946, forming the famed comedy team of Martin and Lewis. In addition to the duo's popular nightclub work, they starred in a successful series of comedy films for Paramount Pictures.
Biography
Jerry Lewis's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Jerry Lewis from around the web
Melissa Errico Looks To the Rainbow
Huffington Post - about 1 month
Broadway star Melissa Errico is caught up these days in a juggling act. She's starring in Finian's Rainbow at the Irish Repertory Theatre in New York. She's also a regular performer on the national cabaret and concert circuits. There's even Oscar buzz for her rendition of "Hurry Home" a song she sings for the Jerry Lewis film, Max Rose. If her professional life sounds busy, she says it's nothing compared to her most fulfilling job---being mother to three young daughters, Victoria, 10, and 8-year-old twins Diana and Juliette. "Every day my life is like a talk show," Errico says. "I talk to everybody. You don't know how many friends I've met on planes. I just moved to another town---a small town in Westchester---and I love getting to know everybody. I had the whole town over for Christmas Eve." But after a day of running errands or to school functions, when the evening comes this Tony nominee steps out of her mom role and transitions to stage star. This past fall Errico re ...
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Huffington Post article
Celebrity Worship And The American Mind
Huffington Post - about 1 month
We, as the viewing audience, are drawn to celebrities and famous people in ways we are not even aware. Within the lives of the celebrated lie the hopes and dreams of the rest of us. As sitting ducks, if you will, or sitting persons, our minds are like sponges for incoming data and information, because the mind by its very nature is curious. If not for that, it would be difficult to survive. So the mind, and the brain activity that comprises what we have come to consider as "the mind," rapidly assesses, absorbs, and decides most things in milliseconds. With the process so swift, oftentimes we haven't a clue as to why we decide what we decide when we decide it. Our minds are swept away by deluded assumptions, as we bet all we have on our "rightness" when, in fact, in that very instance we are wrong. I know because I have been guilty of it countless times myself. Therefore, our minds, so to speak, often have minds of their own. There is research pointing to the extent to which the vi ...
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Huffington Post article
Martin Scorsese's Silence: An Interview with Producer Gaston Pavlovich
Huffington Post - 2 months
When I met with Gaston Pavlovich at the Ritz Carlton to talk about his work on Martin Scorsese's Silence, the film's producer expressed doubt: would movie goers come to this two hour plus film set in 17th century Japan about the persecution of Christians? I had just seen Silence the night before with an awe-struck audience; a panel followed, including producers Emma Koskoff and Irwin Winkler, and the Japanese actor Issey Ogata who plays The Inquisitor. From an opening procession in a shimmering mist, the film feels special. Scorsese told the rapt crowd, it was Ang Lee who suggested he shoot in Taiwan. Andrew Garfield was cast as Rodrigues because he read well for the part, but more, he wanted it so much. Scorsese wanted to film this book, Silence by Shusaku Endo, for 28 years. Many came away believing, as I did, that Silence was a game changer. The Critics' Choice Awards and Golden Globe nominations just out, maybe Gaston Pavlovich's fear is warranted. Silence was snubbed; the favori ...
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Shecky Trump
Huffington Post - 4 months
Last night's Al Smith dinner in NYC revealed the final piece of the puzzle about Donald Trump. He has no sense of humor. As a comedy writer by trade who has made his entire career out of making people laugh,  like most other comedy writers I take the job very seriously. There are all kinds of humor, both high and low and you pretty much get what you pay for.  There is no accounting for personal taste and I think what we gravitate towards, comedically reflects the things that made us laugh right out the gate. Growing up, my parent's comedy was mine too.  I grew up adoring Chaplin, Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, W.C. Fields, Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, The Three Stooges, Jerry Lewis, Bob and Ray, the parade of swaggering comics on Ed Sullivan like Alan King and Henny Youngman until I went my own way when youth co-opted comedy and suddenly comics were rock stars in arenas, from Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Garry Shandling to Dice Clay and man the first year of SNL- ...
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Huffington Post article
Artwork Gets Thrown into the Mix When Artists Divorce
Huffington Post - 4 months
How much more enjoyable it is to speak of love and marriage than of splitting up, but divorce happens, and it happens to artists at probably the same rate as for everyone else. Marital property - everything acquired during the marriage - needs to be divided in some way: the cars, the house, the bank account, the furniture. So, too, the artwork created by the artist-spouse, and along with the physical objects are current and future revenues from licensing as well as the copyright. Does any of this come as a surprise? "Artists tend not to think of the artwork they create as property, marital or otherwise," said Barbara J. Gislason, a lawyer in Minneapolis who specializes in both family law and intellectual property. Artists often look at their unsold creations, which may be placed in storage, stacked somewhere in the studio, decorating the house or on consignment to a gallery, as theirs by right. The courts, however, view any artwork created during a marriage as community or marital pr ...
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Huffington Post article
Indie Focus: Getting wild with Toronto, Jerry Lewis and 'White Girl'
LATimes - 5 months
Hello! I’m Mark Olsen, and welcome to your weekly field guide to a world of Only Good Movies. The fall movie season now feels in full swing. I’m writing this week’s newsletter from Toronto, where I’m covering the film festival with the rest of the Los Angeles Times team. To keep up with all our...
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LATimes article
At Home With: At 90, Jerry Lewis’s Mouth Runneth Over
NYTimes - 5 months
On the occasion of a new movie, the actor talks about the trials of age, the perks of wealth and a sexy encounter with Marilyn Monroe.
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NYTimes article
Jerry Lewis shows quiet, sensitive side in drama 'Max Rose'
Yahoo News - 5 months
LOS ANGELES (AP) — If Jerry Lewis is known for being caustic and cantankerous, he left that side of him behind for "Max Rose."
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Yahoo News article
Nothing in the woeful drama 'Max Rose' will make the Jerry Lewis career-highlight reel
LATimes - 6 months
Given that 90-year-old show biz legend Jerry Lewis hasn’t been seen in a starring role since 1995’s “Funny Bones,” his lead turn in the drama “Max Rose” should be something of a big-screen event. Unfortunately, the movie, written and directed by Daniel Noah, is such a maudlin, ham-fisted dud, it...
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LATimes article
Muscular Dystrophy Association seeks post-telethon identity
Yahoo News - 6 months
NEW YORK (AP) — For 45 years, many Americans identified the Muscular Dystrophy Association with one man and one event — comedian Jerry Lewis and his annual Labor Day telethon.
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Yahoo News article
Indie Focus: Coming of age with 'Morris From America,' Frederick Wiseman and Jerry Lewis
LATimes - 6 months
Hello! I’m Mark Olsen, and welcome to your weekly field guide to a world of Only Good Movies. Last week we mentioned the movie “Hell or High Water,” and since then I published a piece looking at the film as a modern-day Western and how it fits within the context of the career of actor Jeff Bridges. ...
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LATimes article
Murrow: A Dramatic Masterpiece About A More Wonderful than Weird Broadcasting Giant
Huffington Post - 10 months
In order to fully appreciate, both intellectually and emotionally, that and how broadcast news reached its present nadir - and also how glorious it was during its peak -- spend an hour and forty-five minutes with a fine facsimile of Edward R. Murrow, the man who turned reporting the news into "a powerful weapon for truth." If you (sob!) don't know who Murrow was, and (sob! sob!) suffer from the delusion that information about what's happening on the planet should be dispersed as it is presently by (ugh!) Wolf Blitzer or (ugh! ugh!) Lyin' Brian Williams, Murrow, the play, will set your records straight. Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965) was a CBS radio and television news giant (1940-1961), renowned for his honesty and integrity, who first attracted notice during World War II when he broadcast live communiques from London rooftops, accompanied by the cacophony of Nazi bombers decimating the city. Murrow, the man, furnishes the frame for Murrow, the reporter. Both are magnificently bro ...
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Huffington Post article
Friars Club hosts 90th birthday tribute for Jerry Lewis
Yahoo News - 11 months
NEW YORK (AP) — At the Friars Club tribute for Jerry Lewis' 90th birthday, many of the jokes were not about Jerry Lewis.
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Yahoo News article
The Fellowship Of The Film
Huffington Post - about 1 year
The team behind the movie "The Greasy Strangler" came up with a brilliant marketing scheme. Speckled throughout the Sundance Film Festival were bright pink "Greasy" hats emblazoned with the iconic, bubbly letters featured in the title of the hit 1978 movie-musical, "Grease." The cast and crew members may or may not have known "Grease: Live" would be airing a week later, but hey, the head gear got a lot of attention, as did their movie.  This bizarre comedy probably never would've been made if it wasn't for SpectreVision, a production company run by filmmakers Elijah Wood, Daniel Noah and Josh C. Waller. The group's goal is to tell "heartfelt, character driven stories tackling real emotional and social issues that test the boundaries of the genre space," and boy, do they do that. From "Cooties" and "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night" to "Open Windows," SpectreVision has produced an array of films, with "The Greasy Strangler" premiering in the midnight section at Sundance.  The fi ...
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Huffington Post article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Jerry Lewis
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2016
    Age 89
    In early 2016, Lewis made an online video statement for the organization on its website, in honor of its rebranding, marking his first appearance and comeback in support of the Muscular Dystrophy Association since his final Labor Day Telethon in 2010 and the ending of his tenure as national chairman in 2011.
    More Details Hide Details In 1969, Lewis agreed to lend his name to "Jerry Lewis Cinemas", offered by National Cinema Corporation as a franchise business opportunity for those interested in theatrical movie exhibition. Jerry Lewis Cinemas stated that their theaters could be operated by a staff of as few as two with the aid of automation and support provided by the franchiser in booking films and in other aspects of film exhibition. A forerunner of the smaller rooms typical of later multi-screen complexes, a Jerry Lewis Cinema was billed in franchising ads as a "mini-theatre" with a seating capacity of between 200 and 350. In addition to Lewis's name, each Jerry Lewis Cinema bore a sign with a cartoon logo of Lewis in profile. Initially 158 territories were franchised, with a buy-in fee of $10,000 or $15,000 depending on the territory, for what was called an "individual exhibitor". For $50,000, the Jerry Lewis Cinemas offered an opportunity known as an "area directorship", in which investors controlled franchising opportunities in a territory as well as their own cinemas. The success of the chain was hampered by a policy of only booking second-run, family-friendly films. Eventually the policy was changed, and the Jerry Lewis Cinemas were allowed to show more competitive films, but after a decade the chain failed. Both Lewis and National Cinema Corp. declared bankruptcy in 1980.
  • 2011
    Age 84
    On August 3, 2011, it was announced that Lewis would no longer host telethons and is no longer associated with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
    More Details Hide Details Then on May 1, 2015, it was also announced that in view of "the new realities of television viewing and philanthropic giving", the telethon was being discontinued.
    Throughout his entire lifetime and prolific career, Lewis was a world renowned humanitarian who has supported fundraising for research into muscular dystrophy. Until 2011, he served as national chairman of and spokesman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) (formerly, the Muscular Dystrophy Associations of America).
    More Details Hide Details Lewis began hosting telethons to benefit the company from 1952 to 1959; after that, every Labor Day weekend from 1966 to 2010 he hosted the live annual Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. Over nearly half a century he raised over $2.6 billion in donations for the cause.
    In the 2011 documentary Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis, Lewis said he suffered his first heart attack while filming Cinderfella in 1960.
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  • 2006
    Age 79
    En route to San Diego from New York City on a cross-country commercial airline flight on on June 11, 2006, he sustained a minor heart attack.
    More Details Hide Details It was discovered that he had pneumonia as well as a severely damaged heart. He underwent a cardiac catheterization and two stents were inserted into one of his coronary arteries, which was 90% blocked. The surgery resulted in increased blood flow to his heart and has allowed him to continue his rebound from earlier lung problems. Having the cardiac catheterization meant canceling several major events from his schedule, but Lewis fully recuperated in a matter of weeks.
  • 2001
    Age 74
    In September 2001, Lewis was unable to perform at a planned London charity event at the London Palladium.
    More Details Hide Details He was the headlining act, and he was introduced, but did not appear. He had suddenly become unwell, apparently with heart problems. He was subsequently taken to the hospital. Some months thereafter, Lewis began an arduous, months-long therapy that weaned him off prednisone and enabled him to return to work. On June 12, 2012, he was treated and released from a hospital after collapsing from hypoglycemia at a New York Friars' Club event. This latest health issue forced him to cancel a show in Sydney.
  • 1999
    Age 72
    In 1999, his Australian tour was cut short when he had to be hospitalized in Darwin with viral meningitis.
    More Details Hide Details He was ill for more than five months. It was reported in the Australian press that he had failed to pay his medical bills. However, Lewis maintained that the payment confusion was the fault of his health insurer. The resulting negative publicity caused him to sue his insurer for US$100 million. Lewis has had prostate cancer, diabetes, pulmonary fibrosis, and a decades-long history of heart disease. Prednisone treatment in the late 1990s for pulmonary fibrosis resulted in weight gain and a noticeable change in his appearance.
  • 1989
    Age 62
    The two men were seen together on stage for the last time when Martin was making what would be his final live performance at Bally's Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Lewis pushed out a birthday cake for Martin's 72nd birthday in 1989 and sang "Happy Birthday" to him, and joking, "why we broke up, I'll never know."
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  • FIFTIES
  • 1982
    Age 55
    In December 1982, Lewis suffered another heart attack.
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  • FORTIES
  • 1976
    Age 49
    In 1976, Lewis appeared in a revival of Hellzapoppin' with Lynn Redgrave, but it closed on the road before reaching Broadway.
    More Details Hide Details After an absence of 11 years, Lewis returned to film in Hardly Working (1981), a movie which he both directed and starred in. Despite being panned by critics, the movie eventually earned $50 million. Lewis next appeared in Martin Scorsese's film The King of Comedy (1983), in which he plays a late-night television host plagued by obsessive fans, played by Robert De Niro and Sandra Bernhard. A few more movies Lewis appeared in included Cracking Up (1983) and Slapstick (Of Another Kind) (1984). In France, Lewis starred in both To Catch a Cop a.k.a. "The Defective Detective" (1984) and How Did You Get In?, We Didn't See You Leave (1984). Lewis states as long as he has control over distribution to those movies, they will never have an American release. Meanwhile, a syndicated talk show Lewis hosted for Metromedia in 1984 was not continued beyond the scheduled five shows. Lewis starred in the ABC televised drama movie Fight For Life (1987) with Patty Duke, then went on to appear in Cookie (1989).
  • 1968
    Age 41
    Lewis taught a film directing class at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles for a number of years; his students included Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. In 1968, he screened Spielberg's early film, Amblin' and told his students, "That's what filmmaking is all about."
    More Details Hide Details Lewis directed and made his first offscreen voice performance as a bandleader in One More Time (1970). He then produced, directed and starred in Which Way to the Front? (1970), his final released movie. He would then make and star in the unreleased The Day the Clown Cried (1972), which was a drama set in a Nazi concentration camp. Lewis rarely discusses the experience, but once explained why the film has not been released, suggesting litigation over post-production financial difficulties. However, he admitted during his book tour for Dean and Me that a major factor for the film's burial is that he is not proud of the effort.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1966
    Age 39
    By 1966, Lewis, then 40, was no longer an angular juvenile, his routines seemed more labored and his box office appeal waned to the point where Paramount Pictures new executives felt no further need for the Lewis comedies and did not wish to renew his 1959 profit sharing contract.
    More Details Hide Details Undaunted, Lewis packed up and went to Columbia Pictures, where he made Three On A Couch (1966), then appeared in Way Way Out (1966) for 20th Century Fox followed by The Big Mouth (1967), Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River (1968) and Hook, Line & Sinker (1969).
  • 1960
    Age 33
    In 1960, Lewis finished his contract with Wallis with Visit to a Small Planet (1960), and wrapped up work on his own production, Cinderfella, which was postponed for a Christmas 1960 release, and Paramount, needing a quickie feature film for its summer 1960 schedule, held Lewis to his contract to produce one.
    More Details Hide Details Lewis came up with The Bellboy (1960). Using the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami as his setting—and on a small budget, with a very tight shooting schedule, and no script—Lewis shot the film by day and performed at the hotel in the evenings. Bill Richmond collaborated with him on the many sight gags. Lewis later revealed that Paramount was not happy financing a 'silent movie' and withdrew backing. Lewis used his own funds to cover the $950,000 budget. During production Lewis developed the technique of using video cameras and multiple closed circuit monitors, which allowed him to review his performance instantly. His techniques and methods, documented in his book and his USC class, enabled him to complete most of his films on time and under budget. Lewis followed The Bellboy by directing several more films that he co-wrote with Richmond while some were directed by Tashlin, including The Ladies Man (1961), The Errand Boy (1961), It's Only Money (1962) and The Nutty Professor (1963). Lewis did a cameo in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). Further Lewis films were Who's Minding the Store? (1963), The Patsy (1964) and The Disorderly Orderly (1964).
  • 1959
    Age 32
    In 1959, a contract between Paramount Pictures and Jerry Lewis Productions was signed specifying a payment of $10 million plus 60% of the profits for 14 films over a seven-year period.
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  • 1958
    Age 31
    Lewis tried his hand at releasing music during the 1950s, having a chart hit with the song "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody" (a song largely associated with Al Jolson and later re-popularized by Judy Garland) as well as the song, "It All Depends on You" in 1958.
    More Details Hide Details He eventually released his own album titled, Jerry Lewis Just Sings. By the end of his contract with producer Hal B. Wallis, Lewis had several productions of his own under his belt.
  • 1957
    Age 30
    Meanwhile, DC Comics published a new comic book series The Adventures of Jerry Lewis from 1957 to 1971.
    More Details Hide Details Teaming with director Frank Tashlin, whose background as a Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon director suited Lewis's brand of humor, he starred in five more films, The Sad Sack (1957), Rock-A-Bye Baby (1958), The Geisha Boy (1958), Don't Give Up The Ship (1959) and even appeared uncredited as Itchy McRabbitt in Li'l Abner (1959).
  • TWENTIES
  • 1952
    Age 25
    All sixteen movies were produced by Hal B. Wallis. Attesting the comedy team's popularity, DC Comics published the best-selling The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comics from 1952 to 1957.
    More Details Hide Details As Martin's roles in their films became less important over time the partnership came under strain. Martin's participation became an embarrassment in 1954 when Look magazine used a publicity photo of the team for the magazine cover but cropped Martin out of the photo. The partnership ended on July 24, 1956. While both Martin and Lewis went on to successful solo careers, neither would comment on the split nor consider a reunion. They did however make occasional public appearances together up until 1961, but were not seen together again until a surprise television appearance by Martin on a Muscular Dystrophy Telethon in 1976, arranged by Frank Sinatra. The pair eventually reconciled in the late 1980s after the death of Martin's son, Dean Paul Martin, in 1987.
  • 1948
    Age 21
    The two men made many appearances on early live television, their first on the June 20, 1948, debut broadcast of Toast of the Town on CBS (later as The Ed Sullivan Show).
    More Details Hide Details This was followed on October 3, 1948, by an appearance on the NBC series Welcome Aboard, then a stint as the first of a series of hosts of The Colgate Comedy Hour in 1950. The duo began their Paramount film careers as ensemble players in My Friend Irma (1949), based on the popular radio series of the same name. This was followed by a sequel My Friend Irma Goes West (1950). Starting with At War with the Army (1950), Martin and Lewis were the stars of their own vehicles in fourteen additional titles, That's My Boy (1951), Sailor Beware (1952), Jumping Jacks (1952), (plus appearing in the Crosby and Hope film, Road to Bali (1952) as cameos) The Stooge (1952), Scared Stiff (1953), The Caddy (1953), Money from Home (1953), Living It Up (1954), 3 Ring Circus (1954), You're Never Too Young (1955), Artists and Models (1955) and Pardners (1956) at Paramount, ending with Hollywood or Bust (1956).
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1926
    Born
    Lewis was born on March 16, 1926 in Newark, New Jersey to Russian Jewish parents.
    More Details Hide Details His father, Daniel Levitch (1902–80), was a master of ceremonies and vaudeville entertainer who used the professional name Danny Lewis. His mother, Rachel ("Rae") Levitch (Brodsky), was a piano player for a radio station. Lewis started performing at age five and would often perform alongside his parents in the Catskill Mountains in New York State. By 15, he had developed his "Record Act" in which he exaggeratedly mimed the lyrics to songs on a phonograph. He used the professional name Joey Lewis but soon changed it to Jerry Lewis to avoid confusion with comedian Joe E. Lewis and heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis. Lewis then dropped out of Irvington High School in the tenth grade. He was a "character" even in his teenage years pulling pranks in his neighborhood including sneaking into kitchens to steal fried chicken and pies. During World War II, he was rejected for military service because of a heart murmur.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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