Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Jerry Lewis at 90

Tomorrow is going to be the 90th birthday of comic actor Jerry Lewis. Of course, I'm of the age where my first exposure to Lewis would have been the annual Labor Day telethon that he emceed to raise support for research into the fight against muscular dystrophy, this back in the day when telethons were a thing in the US. The MDA telethon was probably the biggest of them all, running 21-1/2 hours from 9:00 PM Sunday night to 6:30 PM the next day, although there were breaks for Jerry and his assorted guests out in Las Vegas when the local stations would run segments. In the age of the Internet and the 500-channel cable universe, there just doesn't seem to be a place for telethons any longer, and the MDA onsistently shortened its own telethon to the point where it was just in the evening hours, finally cancelling it altogether after 2014. Lewis had been replaced as host several years before all that. But it was on the telethon back in 1976 where Jerry Lewis was reunited with his old comedy partner Dean Martin, courtesy of their mutual friend Frank Sinatra. (Being Jerry Lewis and working out of Vegas, he apparently had considerable pull.)

Anyhow, TCM is celebrating Lewis with two nights of his movies, and the TCM website says the Jerry himself is actually co-hosting. Tonight's first night of the salute will see a night of Lewis' films with Dean Martin, while tomorrow will see some of the movies Lewis made after the split. (The Day the Clown Cried is not on the schedule.)

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