AUGUST 21, 2017 – The 91-year-old comic actor, Jerry Lewis, who has featured on big screens and charity telethons for decades, is dead.
His death was first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and confirmed by NPR with his publicist and spokeswoman Candi Cazau.
The son of small-time entertainers who were always on the road, Lewis spent a lot of time with a rotating cast of relatives.
As he told TV interviewer David Susskind in 1965: “I was a rent-a kid-a-day club, you know? Who wants Jerry this week?”
When he got a bit older, he stepped on stage himself and gradually developed his own act.
In 1945, he met the suave singer Dean Martin, and he found broad stardom.
Lewis was just 19; Martin was 28. Together as an odd-couple team over the next decade, Martin and Lewis went on to become the highest-paid comedy act in the U.S., earn their own radio and TV shows, and delight audiences with 16 films.
“They were paying for two men to let an audience see how much fun they were having, and the love that went on between the older guy and the younger guy,” Lewis told Fresh Air’s Terry Gross in 2005.
“When we were able to project that to an audience, we had them in our pockets from Day 1.”
The partnership fell apart in 1956, and Martin and Lewis hardly spoke to each other for decades after — but, Lewis said, “we never, ever fell out of love.”