Not long after the comedy world lost a legend and pioneer when Dick Gregory passed away over the weekend, it lost another star. Yesterday it was confirmed that comedian, filmmaker, and philanthropist Jerry Lewis died at his home in Las Vegas. Lewis was 91 years old.
While in recent years Lewis has become best known for his 40+ years hosting the annual Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon (Lewis raised over $2.5 billion for the cause), Lewis’s career as a performer spans back to his childhood, when he performed comedy at Catskills clubs and on tour with his parents, who also worked as professional entertainers. In the late ‘40s he met Dean Martin, and soon after the two teamed up and rose to fame performing together in clubs, radio, television, and films until the late ‘50s.
After Lewis and Martin parted ways in 1956, Lewis embarked on a solo career as a writer, producer, director, and actor, starting with The Delicate Delinquent in 1957 and following with films like The Bellboy (1960), The Ladies Man (1961), The Nutty Professor (1963), and the now-infamous 1972 film The Day the Clown Cried, which Lewis never publicly released (“You will never see it, no-one will ever see it, because I am embarrassed at the poor work,” he said in 2013). He also starred in films like The King of Comedy in 1982, Funny Bones in 1995, and more recently The Trust last year, and he’s written several books including his 1982 autobiography Jerry Lewis: In Person and 2006’s Dean and Me: (A Love Story).
Lewis most recently made headlines last year when The Hollywood Reporter released its new interview with the comedian, which THR accurately described as “the most painfully awkward interview of 2016.” It would be his final public interview, and it serves as great insight into a figure who made comedy history as much as he courted controversy. Watch the full interview below:
Read Lewis’s full obituary at The New York Times here.