Jerry Lewis. Date unknown.
 
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Jerry Lewis
Forecourt Ceremony held on Saturday, April 12, 2014
 
Born: Joseph Levitch, March 16, 1926, in Newark, New Jersey
Age at the timeof the ceremony: 88
Died: August 20, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada, age 91
 
Jerry Lewis was a comedian, a director, writer, teacher, singer and advocate. He did a lot of things, and whether you liked him or not, liked his comedy schtik or not, you have to hand it to the man: he kept busy!

Jerry's parents were both Russian Jews, born in this country and were working in vaudeville using the last name of Lewis. Young Jerry at the age of five would be working in his parent's act on the Catskills Circuit. Always a pain-in-the-tuchus kid, Jerry dropped out of high school in the tenth grade. Trying to get hired to perform, he didn't get far, becoming an usher at the Brooklyn Paramount to make ends meet.

People advised Lewis to "keep at it." Before long, a comic named Irving Kaye became Lewis' manager. He was 4-F for World War II because of a heart murmer. Just at the end of the war, Lewis met singer Dean Martin at the Glass Hat Club in New York City. On July 25, 1946, Lewis suggested that Martin go on for an ailing no-show singer. Dino sang, while Lewis, dressed as a busboy, dropped plates and generally caused wildly improvised havoc. They had found a formula for an act.

Martin and Lewis' appearance on the very first The Ed Sullivan Show aired over CBS in June 1948 led to producer Hal B. Wallis to add the team as extra comedy to the film My Friend Irma (released in October 1949), with John Lund, where they stole the show. Wallis was quick to shove the duo into the own vehicles, the first of which was At War with the Army (released in December 1950) with Polly Bergen. They also had a radio program, which lasted until 1953.

The Martin and Lewis team was kept very busy indeed. Key Martin and Lewis films are: The Stooge (released in December 1952), with Polly Bergen, Jumping Jacks (released in June 1952), with Mona Freeman, The Caddy (released in August 1953), with Donna Reed, Living It Up (released in July 1954), with Janet Leigh, You're Never Too Young (released in July 1955), with Diana Lynn. Most of these films were directed by Norman Taurog. Frank Tashlin directed Artists and Models (released in November 1955), with Dean and Shirley MacLaine.

At this point, Martin and Lewis were fighting about money, credit and so on. They broke up the act, with Lewis playing at the Sands in Las Vegas, and opening on Broadway in his show Jerry Lewis at the Palace with Eydie Gormé in the cast, from February to March 1957. This was followed by his first film as a headliner: The Delicate Delinquent (released in May 1957), with Martha Hyer.

His second headlining film was the independently made Rock-a-Bye Baby (released in July 1958), with Marilyn Maxwell. Returning to Frank Tashlin, Lewis starred in The Geisha Boy (released in December 1958), with Marie McDonald.

Lewis made a stunning directing debut playing a mute character in The Bellboy (released in July 1960), with Alex Gerry, which allowed for much visual comedy. Tashlin directed him in his take on Cinderfella (released in December 1960), with Ed Wynn (as the Fairy Godfather, which is fine by us!).

The penultimate Jerry Lewis movie is his dual role of Professor Julius Kelp, who invents a potion which turns him into playboy Buddy Love in The Nutty Professor (released in June 1963), with Stella Stevens. Lewis directed The Patsy (released in July 1964), with Ina Balin, and The Family Jewels (released in July 1965), with Sebastian Cabot.

Tony Curtis playes a happy-go-fucky guy screwing three different "stewardessess" in Boeing, Boeing (released in December 1965). Believe it or not, Lewis comes in and tries to get all the stews away from him!

Leaving Paramount, Lewis had veteran Gordon Douglas direct him in Way. . . Way Out (released in October 1966), where, with Connie Stevens, they both become the first couple in space. Continuing with more high-concept comedies, Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River (released in July 1968), with Terry-Thomas, was a bit of a mess, but it made money nonetheless.

In a really bizarre turn, Lewis plays a millionaire calssified 4-F, who starts his own army and tries to assassinate Hitler in Which Way to the Front? (released in July 1970), with Jan Murray. Lewis reportedly tried to do a film about the Holocaust, but the film got bogged down with financing and other problems, after which Lewis put it on the shelf and stopped making movies.

Everyone knows about the Jerry Lewis Muscular Distrophy Telethon. Begun in 1965, during the 1976 edition, Frank Sinatra brought Dean Martin onstage, and the two had a reconcilliation which also raised a lot of money.

Lewis returned to the big screen with Hardly Working (released in January 1980), with Susan Oliver, but his most interesting late-career performance is found in director Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy (released in December 1982), with Robert De Niro. It flopped.

Lewis has a small role in Cookie (released in August 1989), with Peter Falk. He plays himself in a walk-on in Mr. Saturday Night (released in September 1992), with Billy Crystal. He appears in Arizona Dream (released in September 1994), with Johnny Depp.

Lewis took over the role of Applegate in a Broadway revival of Damn Yankees, from March 1994 to January 1995 and from March to August 1995. He also played the role in the West End. His last film credit is in The Trust (released in May 2016), with Nicolas Cage.

Lewis had been in gradually worsening helth since falling off a piano at the Sands in 1965. But the time of his Forecourt ceremony, he had been treated for hypoglycemia. He had suffered four heart attacks over the years and was diabetic and had been treated for prostate cancer. Lewis finally succumbed from end-stage cardiac disease at his home in Las Vegas on August 20, 2017 at the age of 91.
 
 
Caption TK
TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX®, Hollywood, California. Jerry Lewis Forecourt ceremony, Saturday, April 12, 2014. Jerry Lewis, having done the deed, shows his hand off for the cameras.
 
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