Legendary Entertainer Jerry Lewis Has Died at Age 91

Jerry Lewis on 'The Jerry Lewis Show' (1973)
  • Save

Jerry Lewis on 'The Jerry Lewis Show' (1973)
  • Save
Jerry Lewis on ‘The Jerry Lewis Show’ (1973)

Legendary entertainer Jerry Lewis passed away this morning in Las Vegas; he was 91.

He was one of the 20th century’s greatest and most well-known entertainers.  This morning, Jerry Lewis has passed away after a long life and illustrious career.

Lewis was part of a select group of entertainers that dominated a collection of emerging media technologies.  Starting in the 1940s, Lewis’ slapstick humor gained millions of followers across radio, television, film, and the Broadway stage.  His pairing with Dean Martin was legendary, and helped lay the foundation for a massive, multi-decade career.

Lewis died at his home in Las Vegas, according to details confirmed by his agent.

Lewis’ comedy was edgy for 40s and 50s audiences, and highly complementary to Dean Martin’s schtick.  Indeed, this newer-generation version of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby torched box office receipts. The pair’s long string of films routinely fetched north of $5 million, a handsome gross for the era.

Ultimately, Lewis and Martin disintegrated amidst disagreements and acrimony.  But Lewis’ entertainment career kept going strong, with multiple films and a budding expansion into telethons and philanthropic efforts.  Even as Lewis entered his 90s, fans still connected the star to massive amounts of money raised through the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon (though critics questioned where all the non-profit money was going).

Actually, Lewis had a respectable run as a movie director as well.

The entertainer’s talents were rewarded with a stunning, $10 million contract with Paramount in the 60s.  And capping it off was a box office smash with ‘The Nutty Professor’ (yeah, the first one came out in 1963 and grossed $19 million).

One the music side, Lewis also cut a number of albums with Decca Records.  He even had a platinum hit, ‘Rock-a-Bye Your Baby,’ all part of a spreading multi-platform career.

But once the 60s really got underway, Lewis’ brand of comedy didn’t quite connect in the same way.  The entertainer suffered a long string of flops, percolated by occasional successes.  And, a few out-of-touch gaffes that pegged Lewis as an old-timer.  In fact, that basically became Lewis’ story over the ensuing decades.

That said, Lewis remained a tireless performer, and even played a Vegas gig in 2016.  Lewis first introduced his comedic routine to Vegas crowds in 1949.