Tributes roll in for the filmstar, philanthropist and comic legend.
It's official: the world has become a little less funny with the death of comic genius Jerry Lewis, who passed away at the grand old age of 91 last week at his Las Vegas home. Tributes are now pouring in in honour of this remarkable man.
Jerry Lewis at the 2015 NAB Show
Legendary comic actor and filmmaker Jerry Lewis died yesterday morning (August 20th 2017) at his home in Las Vegas. His publicist, Candi Cazau, confirmed the news to the media. While no cause of death has been announced, he had suffered health problems for a number of years ranging from heart disease and pulmonary fibrosis to meningitis, prostate cancer and diabetes. Just earlier this year he was hospitalised after suffering a urinary tract infection.
Heartbreakingly, he gave an interview with Inside Edition less than a year ago about his thoughts on his future. 'If you're real to yourself, you recognise there's not a lot of time left. I don't like that part. I don't like that part at all', he said tearfully, confessing that he was scared of dying because he didn't want to leave behind his wife and daughter.
Jerry Lewis first gained fame from his work with Dean Martin as the comedy duo Martin and Lewis, with home he appeared in a number of films including 'At War with the Army', 'That's My Boy' and 'Sailor Beware'. Jerry later went solo and embarked on a singing career before starring in several blockbuster comedies like Martin Scorsese's 'The King of Comedy', 'The Delicate Delinquent', 'The Bellboy' and 'The Nutty Professor' - the latter two of which he also wrote and directed. His last movie role was in Nicolas Cage thriller 'The Trust' in 2016.
'That fool was no dummy', Jim Carrey wrote on Twitter, crediting the comedian for his own success. 'Jerry Lewis was an undeniable genius an unfathomable blessing, comedy's absolute! I am because he was!'
That fool was no dummy. Jerry Lewis was an undeniable genius an unfathomable blessing, comedy's absolute! I am because he was! ;^D pic.twitter.com/3Zdq9xhXlE— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) August 20, 2017
Neil Patrick Harris confessed that he was one of his all-time favourite comic actors. 'Watching Jerry Lewis onscreen makes me laugh harder than almost anyone', he said. 'His great contribution to cinema is undeniable.'
Ellen DeGeneres paid tribute to a 'comic and philanthropic icon', while Goldie Hawn called him 'A perfect clown who could do it all'. Plus, 94-year-old vaudeville star Rose Marie revealed that he was a personal friend of hers who helped her in her time of need. 'Jerry Lewis was an angel to me', she said. 'Loved him and will never forget what he did for me during one of the worst times in my life.'
Even the White House had something to say about Jerry's work over the years. 'Jerry Lewis kept us all laughing for over half a century, and his incredible charity work touched the lives of millions', read a note from the Press Secretary. 'Jerry lived the American Dream - he truly loved his country, and his country loved him back.'
Perhaps his most important legacy was that of his work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association for which he helped raise more than $2.6 billion during his involvement with the charity.
He was married twice and had five biological children and two adopted children altogether. His family life was not without its tragedies, however, as his youngest son Joseph passed away in 2009 at the age of 45 from a narcotics overdose.
More: Read our review of 'The King of Comedy'
He is survived by his wife of 34 years SanDee Pitnick; their adopted daughter Danielle; and his five sons Gary, Ronnie, Scott, Christopher and Anthony from his marriage to Patti Palmer.