Jerry Lewis, Actor and Filmmaker, Passes Away at 91

Jerry Lewis, Actor and Filmmaker, Passes Away at 91

Aug 21, 2017

Max Rose

Jerry Lewis, a comedian, actor and filmmaker whose career stretched from the 1940s into the current decade, has died, according to multiple news reports. He was 91.

His father was a vaudeville entertainer and his mother was a piano player for a radio station, so perhaps it was natural for Lewis to start performing at an early age. He teamed up with singer Dean Martin in 1946 and they became a hit on the nightclub circuit, leading to a radio show, television appearances and movies. They starred in At War With the Army (1950) and then starred in 14 more movies during the next six years before the team's partnership ended.

Lewis launched his solo career, showcasing his talents as a singer. He also began starring in his own movies, starting with The Delicate Delinquent. He found great success with his antic style of comedy in titles like Rock-a-Bye Baby and The Geisha Boy.

Stretching his wings, he began writing and directing his movies, in addition to starring in them, producing comedy classics such as The Ladies Man, The Errand Boy and The Nutty Professor.

He continued making comedies throughout the 1960s and then tried his hand at a very serious drama, The Day the Clown Cried, about a circus clown imprisoned by the Nazis during World War II. The movie did not turn out to Lewis' satisfaction and it has never been released publicly.

He returned to movies with 1980's Hardly Working and shortly thereafter made a big splash with his excellent performance in Martin Scorsese's acerbic and insightful drama The King of Comedy, portraying a prickly late-night television host.

Lewis made occasional screen appearances over the past 20 years, most notably in Max Rose, in which he played an aging jazz pianist who reevaluates his life.

Jerry Lewis will always be remembered for his series of memorable comic performances over the decades, as well as for his longtime charitable work. 

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