Comedy legend, telethon host Jerry Lewis dead at 91

Jenna Warner
August 21, 2017

"Jerry's solo films were also an instant success, drawing in crowds of dedicated fans with hits including "Rock A Bye Baby", The Delicate Delinquent", Cinderfella", and The Nutty Professor".

Jerry Lewis, the comic actor who become one of Hollywood's most popular stars of the 1950s and 60s, died Sunday at the age of 91, his publicist said.

Lewis, at right, joined late singer and actor Dean Martin to become a comic duo of worldwide fame early in their careers.

Lewis was best known for classic films like The Nutty Professor and The Bellboy, though he also made appearances in modern shows like Law & Order and The Simpsons.

In 1966, Lewis began hosting the annual Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon.

Longtime actor and comedian Jerry Lewis has died at the age of 91, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Lewis was born Joseph Levitch in 1926 in Newark, New Jersey, into a family of Russian Jewish emigres. Their meteoric rise hinged on their chemistry as performers - 'sex and slapstick, ' Lewis would call it: Martin's unstoppable cool, Lewis's uncontainable comedy. Despite a decade-long run of hits, however, Lewis' career as screeched to a halt in 1972 with his notorious, never-released drama The Day the Clown Cried (1972), about a circus clown imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. Lewis went on to make 30 more movies, did a stint on Broadway and maintained a stand-up comedy career. Lewis leaves behind wife SanDee Pitnick and his seven children. But there's no denying the influence he's had on American comedy, starting with his days as one half of the legendary comedy duo Martin and Lewis.

Fellow celebrities paid tribute as news of his death broke. He followed in his parents' footsteps as soon as he turned 5 with his debut at New York's "Borscht Belt" nightclubs in the Catskill Mountains.

"I mean you got some very, very amusing people that do lovely work-but I have a problem with the lady up there that's going to give birth to a child-which is a miracle", he added.

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