Jerry Lewis: Life In A Three-Ring Circus

Jerry Lewis: Life In A Three-Ring Circus

Few can say they lived life to the fullest when they leave this earth. One man who could, just did. Jerry Lewis was half of the comedic juggernaut of Martin & Lewis in the 1950s. The most successful comedy duo in history, the team ran the nightclub circuit throughout the 1950s, drawing top billing at theaters and in movies like 3 Ring Circus, then breaking up in the 1960s.

Lewis found himself an even more pronounced draw as a zany, hyper, loud and accomplished star with classic films, such as The Bellboy in 1960 and The Nutty Professor in 1963. He was declared to be the biggest moneymaker in Paramount Studio’s history, to that point, though his stage antics was far from what made him “The King of Comedy.” It was in his blood, from the day he was born, March 16, 1926, in New Jersey.

His father was said to be an exceptional arranger for music and his mother had the knack for playing piano. Lewis was a singer and was so enamored with theater that he left school just to be an usher in theater. Much like Martin Short, Lewis mimicked comedy albums in his room, setting up his own shows for no one but himself.

In his lifetime, the humanitarian side of Lewis outshone even his legendary act as a comedian.
Lewis raised more money for those who suffered disease than any individual ever could. Lewis spent more than half a century hosting the Labor Day telethon for The Muscular Dystrophy Association raising $2.5 billion to find a cure. Lewis was even a nominee for The Nobel Peace Price in 1977.

Jerry Lewis, pencil drawing by Duane Maddy

Lewis was a working actor, even in 2016 in Max Rose. He directed television programs, joined the Broadway stage play of Damn Yankees in 1995 and was a part of one of the best transformations from comedic actor to dramatic with Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy in 1982. He even taught, giving lectures for The Division of Cinema. Lewis was an actor in more than 70 different television programs and movies, directed more than 20, credited with writing 20 and produced 17.

Lewis had been married to second wife, SanDee Pitnick since 1983. He leaves behind a legacy of brilliance on the screen and a legacy of humanitarian behavior in the world.