HOLLYWOOD—Comedian, actor and filmmaker Jerry Lewis died at his Las Vegas, Nevada home on Sunday, August 20. John Katsilometes of the Las Vegas Review-Journal first reported the news, which was later confirmed by publicist Candi Cazau.
The comedian was 91. According to reports, Lewis died of natural causes. He was born on March 16, 1926 in Newark, New Jersey. He changed his name from Joey to Jerry to establish his career. Lewis became pals with Dean Martin in the 1940s to capitalize on their comedic abilities. Lewis and Martin’s careers flourished under Paramount Pictures with roles in the films like “My Friend Irma,” “At War with the Army,” “The Stooge,” “The Cady” and “Pardners,” to name a few.
Martin and Lewis partnership came to an end in the mid-1950s as both actors pursued solo careers. He had a breakout role in the 1963 comedy “The Nutty Professor.” He starred in “The Jerry Lewis Show” in 1963, which ran 13 episodes. He last appeared in the 2016 film “Max Rose.” Lewis has been an advocate for research in muscular dystrophy, and served as the national chairman and spokesperson for the Muscular Dystrophy Association until 2011.
He hosted the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon from 1966 to 2010, where he raised over $2.6 billion from donations. Lewis was married twice during his life, first to Patti Palmer in 1944 where they had 6 children. He divorced Palmer in 1980. He married SanDee Patrick in February 1983 where they adopted a daughter. He suffered from prostate cancer, pulmonary fibrosis and diabetes and a history of heart-disease. The comedian was recently hospitalized in June 2017 after suffering from a urinary tract infection.
Hollywood took to Twitter to send their condolences honoring the comedian. Jimmy Kimmel tweeted, “Jerry Lewis was a genius comedian, actor, director, inventor, humanitarian and, as a Las Vegan what I miss…”
“Jerry Lewis was a comic and philanthropic icon. I sent love to his family today,” tweeted Ellen DeGeneres. “Car Reiner tweeted, “So saddened to learn of the passing of Jerry Lewis, a true comic icon. In Boston 1947, I roared at his and Dean’s first ever performance,” tweeted Carl Reiner.