American Icon Jerry Lewis Has Died

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Comedy pioneer, philanthropist, and an all-American original, Jerry Lewis has died at 91, friend and fellow performer Penn Jillette tweeted this morning.

Via The Hollywood Reporter:

He dominated show business with Dean Martin in the 1950s, starred in ‘The Bellboy’ and ‘The Nutty Professor,’ hosted the Labor Day telethon for decades and received the Hersholt award.

Jerry Lewis, whose irrepressible zaniness and frantic creativity vaulted him to stardom as a comic movie star who wielded unparalleled green-light power at Paramount in the 1960s, died Sunday. He was 91.

Lewis, who teamed with Dean Martin in the 1950s as one of the most successful tandems in the history of show business, died at 9:15 a.m. at his home in Las Vegas, John Katsilometes of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported, citing a statement from Lewis’ family.

Lewis’ health ailments over the years included open-heart surgery in 1983, surgery for prostate cancer in 1992, treatment for his dependence on prescription drugs in 2003, a heart attack in 2006 and a long bout with pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic lung disease for which he took Prednisone, causing his face and body to balloon.

At the peak of their popularity, Martin & Lewis ruled nightclubs, radio and then the box office with their breezy yet physical comedy act, reigning as the top draw at theaters from 1950-56.

After an especially acrimonious break-up with his partner, Lewis remained as the No. 1 movie draw through the mid-1960s on the strength of such classics as The Bellboy (1960) and The Nutty Professor (1963). As Paramount’s biggest star, he had the creative freedom to make the moves he wanted to make.

 

Jillette tweeted more about his friend, along with pictures of the two.

 

 

Read more about the life and times of Jerry Lewis here.

 

 

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