Jerry Lewis, of such comedic classics as “The Nutty Professor” and “The Bellboy,” has died in Las Vegas. He was 91. Lewis died at his home in Las Vegas at about 9:15 a.m. Sunday morning, his agent confirmed.
Born in 1926 and raised in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Russian Jewish parents who both worked as entertainers in the Catskills, Lewis dropped out of high school in the tenth grade and began working as a comedian. Lewis first became a star in a duo with Dean Martin, entertaining audiences in nightclubs, on television and in the movies. They split in 1956. Lewis occasionally spoke of his regret at the split, referencing the time “when my partner was alive” as the happiest of his career. After their split, he starred in and directed a slew of hit films such as “The Nutty Professor.” Later generations knew him primarily as the tireless conductor of America’s Labor Day weekend telethons, raising funds for victims of muscular dystrophy. Over 44 years, he helped raise some $2 billion for the organization before he stopped hosting in 2010, the telethons’ effectiveness having been blunted by the internet age. Lewis retired from making films in 1995, but returned as star of the 2016 drama “Max Rose.” He had six sons with his first wife Patti Palmer (whom he divorced in 1980), one of whom, Joseph, died in 2009; he is also survived by his second wife SanDee Pitnick and their daughter Danielle.