Sunday, August 20, 2017

Jerry Lewis, 1926-2017

Jerry Lewis in The Bellboy (1960)

The death has been announced of actor Jerry Lewis, who died this morning at his home in Las Vegas at the age of 91.

Lewis is known for a lot, which is unsurprising considering his career lasted close to seven decades. The first big thing was the pairing with Dean Martin that led to a series of comedic films in the 1950s until their acrimonious breakup. Lewis continued to act in zany comedies such as the pictured The Bellboy as well as The Nutty Professor.

But of course, he also became the spokesman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, hosting their annual Labor Day telethon which ran for decades, lasting 21 hours from Sunday night through the dinner hour on Monday. I think it was only after Lewis was let go that they started to truncate the broadcast since telethons are really part of another era; a few years ago the telethon was finally discontinued. But for those of us born after Lewis' string of comedic successes, it's probably with the Labor Day telethon that we first remember him. (And he was famously reunited with Dean Martin on the telethon.)

Of course, Lewis continued to act, with one of his memorable turns being as a late-night talk show host who gets kidnapped by Robert de Niro in The King of Comedy.

I don't know if TCM has planned a tribute, and to be honest it might be a bit tough considering that a lot of the movies he made were at Paramount. And besides, I doubt they've had time to announce it considering how recent the news is.


Dell said...

Sad news, indeed. I spent a lot of my childhood in front of the TV while something or another starring Jerry Lewis was playing, not to mention the hours I spent watching his telethons. He will be missed.

Ted S. (Just a Cineast) said...

Of course, Lewis' comedy can be an acquired taste, a lot like Red Skelton in that regard. Lewis showed he could really act, though, when he did The King of Comedy.