Jerry Lewis, the legendary comic who teamed with Dean Martin in the 1950s and later starred in his own films before launching the Muscular Dystrophy telethon, has died in Las Vegas, his talent agency said Sunday. He was 91.
At the peak of their popularity, Martin & Lewis ruled nightclubs, radio and then the box office with their breezy yet physical comedy act, reigning as the top draw at theaters from 1950 until their highly publicised split in 1956.
But the popular entertainer also enjoyed a long film and stage career after he split with Martin in 1956, writing and directing as well as acting in many hit movies through the 1950s, 60s and 70s, including “The Nutty Professor,” “The Bellboy” and “The Ladies Man.”
His death was confirmed by John Katsilometes, a columnist for The Las Vegas Review Journal, who spoke to family members.
Lewis’ health ailments over the years included open-heart surgery in 1983, surgery for prostate cancer in 1992, treatment for his dependence on prescription drugs in 2003, a heart attack in 2006 and a long bout with pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic lung disease for which he took Prednisone, causing his face and body to balloon.
Condolences and fond memories of Lewis poured in from around the entertainment world.
The French were right about him all along. RIP Jerry Lewis pic.twitter.com/jNLRPQeS4G
— Gilbert Gottfried (@RealGilbert) August 20, 2017
How did my life get good enough that Jerry Lewis would smile at me? And how sad to lose him. pic.twitter.com/taPhl1utzO
— Penn Jillette (@pennjillette) August 20, 2017
I realize I may be late with all this but all know is,losing Dick Gregory & Jerry Lewis is a gain 4 heaven, but big loss for comedy
— Whoopi Goldberg (@WhoopiGoldberg) August 20, 2017
— Jamie Lee Curtis (@jamieleecurtis) August 20, 2017