Chuck D, Questlove and More Salute Late Comedian and Philanthropist Jerry Lewis
The world is less funny today. Legendary comedian and philanthropist Jerry Lewis has passed away at the age of 91. Reps for Mr. Lewis confirmed the sad news to EW. The funnyman died of natural causes at his home in Las Vegas on Sunday (Aug. 20).
A native of Newark of N.J., Mr. Lewis, whose real name is Jerome Levitch, was born into show business. His father, Daniel Levitch, was a vaudeville entertainer and his mother, Rachel Levitch, was a piano player on the radio. Encouraged by his parents to become an entertainer, Lewis was onstage performing in the Catskills resorts alongside his mom and dad at the age of five.
Mr. Lewis would rise to showbiz fame as Dean Martin’s comedy partner. The comedian was famous for being the hilarious foil next to the debonair Martin in their nightclub acts in Atlantic City and later on radio. They grew to national prominence when they appeared on television variety shows such as The Colgate Comedy Hour and Toast of the Town, which was later renamed to The Ed Sullivan Show in 1948.
Their tag-team success led them to Hollywood with a run of popular buddy comedy films in the late 1940s and early 1950s. They appeared together in such films as My Friend Irma, At War with the Army, The Caddy and Pardners. The duo split up in 1956. But their professional divorce prove to be a blessing for Lewis as he went on to a major solo career with films like The Bellboy, The Nutty Professor and the Martin Scorsese-directed cult classic, The King of Comedy.
Outside of the making people laugh, Mr. Lewis was also a philanthropist. In 1953, he got involved with the Muscular Dystrophy Association and launched the MDA telethon. He soon he became the public face of the neuromuscular disorder, and help raised over $2 billion for the foundation during his annual Labor Day telethons. At the 2009 Academy Awards, Lewis received the Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his charitable endeavors.
"Jerry Lewis passes today. HipHop had a dance named after him. Last time I performed on @jimmyfallon He was there. Earth is less funny today," tweeted Chuck D.
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