Name at birth: Joseph Levitch
Slapstick and funny-face specialist Jerry Lewis was one of the top movie comedians of the 1950s and 1960s. Jerry Lewis got his start with singer Dean Martin as Martin & Lewis, a hugely successful comedy team of stage, screen and radio. Martin was the romantic crooner, Lewis the zany cut-up and comedy relief. They made a string of popular movies from 1949 to 1956, including At War With the Army (1950) and The Caddy (1953). By 1956 the two co-stars had started to chafe at the partnership, and they broke up -- starting a famous feud that lasted for decades. Lewis went on to produce, direct and star in comedies such as The Bellboy (1960) and The Nutty Professor (1963). Jerry Lewis was also widely known for his annual Labor Day telethon, a charitable event raising money to fight muscular dystrophy. He hosted the show for nearly 40 years, with his final appearance coming in 2010. After his death, The New York Times reported that Lewis had raised over $2 billion for the cause over his lifetime. He was awarded the Légion d’Honneur in 1984 by the government of France, where his work had long been popular. In the 1990s made a comeback on stage, appearing as the Devil in the Broadway revival of the stage play Damn Yankees. Jerry Lewis was given the Jean Hersholt humanitarian award at the 2009 Academy Awards, honoring him as "an individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry."Although no cause of death was announced immediately after Jerry Lewis’s death, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that he had been hospitalized from June 3 to August 7 for a urinary tract infection… The Muscular Dystrophy Association ended its annual telethon after the 2014 show, four years after Lewis’s last hosting gig… Prednisone treatments for a lung ailment caused Jerry Lewis to gain a great deal of weight in 2002… Jerry Lewis’s longtime co-host on his annual telethon was Ed McMahon… Jerry Lewis was never nominated for an Oscar in his acting or directing career. However, he did co-host the Oscar ceremonies in 1956, 1957 and 1959.
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