Jerry Lewis died

Jerry Lewis,  comedian, actor, director, writer, and raiser of more than $2 billion for muscular dystrophy, passed away peacefully this morning at his home in Las Vegas. He was 91.

I emailed the news bulletin to a friend who was a huge fan of Jerry Lewis (and did a credible imitation); his response was this:

All I can say is:
Flaven! Godspeed, you crazy, complicated, comedic sumbitch!
Flaven indeed.


  1. Posted August 20, 2017 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    R.I.P. Thank you for posting!

  2. Michael Waterhouse
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Jerry Lewis provided a lot of great entertainment for me for a lot of my life.

    A rare talent.

  3. Filippo
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    It would take the likes of a cynical NY Times cultural critic not to be moved by his singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at the end of his televised fundraisers.

    Such an apparent big heart. At the same time, seems he could be quite the implacable, hard-nosed realist in standing his ground with the no-talent capitalist tyrants of the Hollywood entertainment industry.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Monsieur Zher-reee. The French critics, most of them anyway, loved them some Lewis.

    I saw Martin Scorsese’s underrated dark satire The King of Comedy again recently. Jerry Lewis is superb in it, in a straight, dramatic role. He, and the movie, get better every time I see it.

    Of the comedies he’s famous for, The Nutty Professor is still my fave (and, come to think of it, his “Buddy Love” character in that film presaged his turn as “Jerry Langford” in The K of C).

    There won’t be another like him again.

    • Mark R.
      Posted August 20, 2017 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      OH YEAH! I frickin’ love that movie! Thanks for reminding me to watch it again. Rupert Pupkin! (One of my favorite fictional names.) I think it might have been DeNiro’s first role in a (dark) comedic role. The role was a nice departure from his previous Scorsese collaborations: Mean Streets,Taxi Driver and New York, New York.

      It also reminds me; where the hell is Sandra Bernhard?

      • rickflick
        Posted August 20, 2017 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

        Bernhard? She’s completely gone soft on us. No backbone anymore. She says nothing with conviction. Here, listen to this:

        • Mark R.
          Posted August 20, 2017 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

          HA! Thanks for the reality check.

          I was stressing the actor aspect of her career. She’s a jewel and thanks again for pointing that out in any format she chooses.

  5. Posted August 20, 2017 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Oy. That gives me a pain, such a pain right in the flaven (!). 😦

  6. frednotfaith2
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    I first became aware of Jerry Lewis at about age 10 in 1972, when my family would spend Labor Day evening at a party hosted by my dad’s Chief when my dad was a Navy Recruiter stationed in Salt Lake City. Or, to be more precise, the adults partied on the ground floor and the kids hung out in the basement watching the telethon until the wee hours of the next morning. That was a Labor Day weekend tradition during the three years we lived in Utah — we moved to San Francisco in October 1974. I did see a few of his ’60s films but don’t think I ever saw any of his collaborations with Dean Martin from the ’50s. His style of humor never really appealed to me but he seemed a decent enough human being. His passing is sad, but 91 years is a pretty good run.

  7. Posted August 20, 2017 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    R.I.P. Jerry Lewis. I always thought his performance of of humiliation and barely-suppressed rage in Scorsese’s 1982 ‘King of Comedy’ was brilliant: a meditation, perhaps stimulated by Lennon’s killing, on the creepy psychopathy of the super-fan and a prophetic fore-shadowing of celeb culture.

    • Mark R.
      Posted August 20, 2017 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. I never connected it to Lennon’s assassination, but that is an astute observation. I watched it for the first time in the 90’s, and didn’t consider the historical context. Above, Ken Kucek also mentioned this important film.

  8. DrBeydon
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Like many of us who grew up in the 70s, Jerry Lewis was as familiar to me as any star, with his movies continually on television, and the Labor Telethon. I think his influence on me was positive, and I am sad to see him go.

  9. Mark R.
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    He raised over $2 billion for March of Dimes. That has to be a world record. If I raised 1/10,000th of what he raised, I’d die a content man. I bid farewell to a good and funny man.

  10. Randy schenck
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Martin and Lewis is still one of the best teams in their time. Set both of them on to many years on top.

  11. Vaal
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    I grew up watching Lewis. The Nutty Professor remains my favorite. I watch it every once in a while, as I did with my boys last year, and it remains brilliant. His performance at the end when he is making the speech to the audience as he is changing from Buddy Love back to the Professor is superb. Gets me in the feels every time.

  12. loren russell
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    I like a wide range of comedy and comics, cerebral to slapstick, from Jack Lemmon in SLIH to Mel Brooks and Jack Black, but can’t remember having a single laugh from Lewis. But as Ken notes above, the French critics loved him — but they also thought Howard the duck was funny.

    • Mike
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      The French gave him Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, to give it its full title.I think he reminded them,and was very similar in his style of Comedy to Jacques Tati ,a very funny visual Comedian in the 50s, watch one of his Movies particularly this,
      ( )

      • Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:03 am | Permalink

        I think the French film critics appreciated him not just for his comedy, but also because he was known as an innovative film maker.

        Tati is great, but I think his humor is more related to Buster Keaton’s than to Jerry Lewis’. He and Keaton had that deadpan thing going strong whereas Lewis’ persona was more frenetic. They all liked good sight gags though!

  13. Johnman
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 3:16 am | Permalink

    I grew up watching the Jerry Lewis/Dean Martin films in the late fifties and through the sixties. Did not at that time know anything about what constitutes good acting, but I knew what I liked!
    Thanks Jerry – you were my first favourite comedian. R.I.P

  14. MKray
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 4:33 am | Permalink

    I still remember, from circa 1951, `The Navy gets the gravy and the Army gets the beans, beans, beans, beans …..’

  15. Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    I never really appreciated Martin & Lewis until I saw their appearances on the Colgate Comedy Hour. There, you could get a glimpse of the energy and chemistry of their stage act. At that point in TV a lot of the comedians were older vaudeville acts and Martin & Lewis must have seemed like a real breath of fresh air, especially to people just emerging from a horrific war.

    (I’m going to try to post this link so that it doesn’t imbed.)

  16. Melanie
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Another kudo for ‘The Nutty Professor’ here. I’d seen it as a child when it came out (yeah, I’m old) but last year decided to give it a re-watch just for fun. Holy cats. What a performance. Especially (as Vaal has already mentioned) that scene at the end. Incredible!

    I haven’t seen ‘King of Comedy’ but will do that soonest.


  17. Posted August 21, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    The Martin and Lewis routines on the old “Colgate Comedy Hour” were hilarious and gave my brothers and me hours of enjoyment. Later, I thought that without the counterbalance of Martin’s uber-coolness, Lewis’s manic slapstick was off-putting—a notch above Milton Berle’s, but not much. And his displays of cloying sentimentality always struck me as forced—a notch below Liza Minelli’s, but not much. In short, I don’t think he was ever the comic genius he thought himself to be, but he left a legacy of laughter that is enviable indeed. And I totally agree that he was brilliant in “King of Comedy.”

    • Posted August 21, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      I agree with your assessment, mirandaga. I can watch clips of some of his bits and they can be very funny, but the whole movies can feel tedious.

      He was excellent in “Funny Bones”. He played Oliver Platt’s father, a hugely successful older comedian who would steal jokes from anyone, even his own son. The movie is a good meditation on the nature of comedy, and it also features the great George Carl. One segment shows Carl’s famous routine, but the editing is so severe that it doesn’t do it justice.

      Here is Lewis talking about comedy in “Funny Bones”:

      Here is George Carl doing his routine as it should be seen:

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