US Comedian Jerry Lewis Dead At 91
Veteran American entertainer Jerry Lewis, whose slapstick comedies like “The Nutty Professor” endeared him to millions, died on Sunday aged 91, Variety reported.
‘Sadly I can confirm that today the world lost one of the most significant human beings of the 20th century,’ his representative Mark Rozzano said.
One of the most popular comic actors of the 1950s and ’60s, Lewis perfected the role of the quirky clown but also won acclaim as a writer, actor and philanthropist in a career spanning six decades.
Over his long career in showbiz, Lewis starred in several hit movies including Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy and The Nutty Professor.
But arguably his most famous achievement is founding the annual Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy telethon in the 1960s, which raised more than $2.45 billion over the decades, led by Lewis until he was relieved as host in 2011.
Lewis’s 10-year partnership with Dean Martin saw them star in 16 films and achieve huge box office success.
He became the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, chalking up hits such as The Bell Boy, Cinderfella and The Nutty Professor.
Other notable successes included The King of Comedy in 1983, in which he played a talk show host stalked by Robert de Niro.
“Famed comedian, actor and legendary entertainer Jerry Lewis passed away peacefully today of natural causes at 91 at his home in Las Vegas with his family by his side,” the family statement said.
Lewis was born Joseph Levitch in Newark, New Jersey, to Russian-Jewish parents who were both in showbusiness.
He started performing on stage at the age of five alongside his parents.
In an interview, Lewis once said the key to his success had been in maintaining a certain child-like quality, but added: “I’ve had great success being a total idiot.”
“I look at the world through a child’s eyes because I’m nine,” he told Reuters in 2002.
“I stayed that way. I made a career out of it. It’s a wonderful place to be.”
Lewis also achieved great popularity in France where he was hailed as “le Roi du Crazy” (“the King of Crazy”). He was inducted into the Legion of Honor, France’s highest award, in 1984.
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