Jerry Lewis, the slapstick-loving comedian, innovative filmmaker and generous fundraiser who became famous with classics like “The Nutty Professor” and “The Bellboy,” has died. He was 91.
Lewis died on Sunday after a brief illness in Las Vegas, said his publicist, Candi Cazau, CNN reported. Cazau has not elaborated on Lewis’ illness.
Lewis first gained fame for his frenzied comedy-and-music act with singer Dean Martin.
When that ended in the mid-1950s, Lewis went solo. By early 1960s, he had become a top draw in movies such as “The Bellboy”, “The Nutty Professor” and “The Patsy”.
Along the way, he pioneered the use of videotape and closed-circuit monitors in filmmaking, a now-standard technique called video assist.
Lewis first helped raise money for muscular dystrophy in a telethon in 1956. He was so successful, and so devoted to the cause, that children affected by the disease became known as “Jerry’s kids”.
The telethon, long known as “The Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon”, began airing on Labour Day weekend in 1966, and Lewis served as host until 2011.
Lewis is survived by his second wife, SanDee Pitnick, with whom he adopted a daughter.