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Monday 21 August 2017

Jerry Lewis Dies, age 91

Jerry Lewis, the American comedian and filmmaker died on Sunday morning (US time) at his home in Las Vegas. He was 91.

His birth name was Joseph Levitch, but Shawn Levy, author of the exhaustive 1996 biography “King of Comedy: The Life and Art of Jerry Lewis,” unearthed a birth record that gave his first name as Jerome.

Here is a show reel of his life:

Lewis was an active spokesman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and raised vast sums for charity. He was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for raising over $2 billion dollars for the charity.

Few may know he was a force as a filmmaker with renowned technical skill, and that he made many contributions to the industry, including the invention in 1960 of a device — the video assist, which allowed directors to review their work immediately on the set — which is still in common use.

Josie's Juice recalls a particular era of Jerry Lewis: his unique comedy style, his slapstick routines with Dean Martin, and their fun duets. This, the most famous... 'That's Amore':

In 1944 he met Patti Palmer, a 23-year-old singer. Three months later they were married, and on July 31, 1945, she gave birth to the first of the couple’s six sons, Gary, The couple divorced in 1980.

It was between his first date with Palmer and the birth of his first son, Lewis had met Dean Martin, a young crooner from Steubenville, Ohio. Appearing on the same bill at the Glass Hat nightclub in Manhattan, they soon found themselves on the same bill again at another Manhattan nightclub, the Havana-Madrid, in March 1946.

It was here they started fooling around with their impromptu sessions after the evening’s last show, and were being noticed, first by a Billboard magazine reviewer.

Booked at the 500 Club in Atlantic City, Lewis convinced the club’s owner to hire Dean Martin to fill a spot, and they cobbled together a routine based on their Havana-Madrid skit, and the phenomenon was born.

Jerry Lewis described their relationship as “sex and slapstick.” Among the audience members at the Copacabana was the producer Hal Wallis, who had a distribution deal through Paramount Pictures, and soon Wallis signed them to a five-year contract.

“My Friend Irma” (1949) evolved with Martin and Lewis providing comic support, then “My Friend Irma Goes West” (1950), but it was not until “At War With the Army” (1951) that the duo were front and centre.

Here is more of their antics. Whoops, Josie's Juice has uncovered a full length movie, 'Hollywood Or Bust':

'The Nutty Professor' is the still the most talked about of Jerry Lewis’s films:

RIP Jerry Lewis. Thank you for the lasting memories of fun Saturday afternoon movies watching you and Dean Martin. Such good times.

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