The comedy world loses another icon.
It's been a sad weekend for show business and specifically the world of comedy, as Jerry Lewis becomes the latest icon to pass away. According to the New York Times, he died at his home in Las Vegas earlier this morning (August 20th). He was 91.
A celebrated comedian and filmmaker, Lewis was a polarizing public personality who was adored and disliked in sometimes equal measure. However, no one can deny that his legacy as a multi-faceted performer left an indelible mark on the entertainment world. He got his start very early on in life, acting as the volatile foil to Dean Martin's ultra-relaxed stage presence in a tandem nightclub act. From there, he ascended to the ranks of a superstar pretty quickly, responsible for writing, directing and starring in many of his own films. Younger audiences might better know him for his philanthropic work, working as a representative for the Muscular Dystrophy Association for many years. An icon of Lewis' magnitude had admirers across the entire showbiz spectrum, and hip-hop artists offered up memories and other thoughts on his passing via social media.
Other members of the show business community echoed sentiments of sadness and loss, but also celebration as the world looked back on his career. Some were once co-workers of his, others just fans, but they're all united by one commonality: a love for Lewis' comedy.
Born Joseph Levitch in 1926, the Newark, New Jersey native dropped out of high school at the age of 16 and aggressively sought out a career as a performer. He met his first wife, Patti Palmer, in 1944 and the couple had six children together, the first being born in 1945. They ultimately ended up divorcing in 1980. In terms of his live performances, Lewis split from Dean Martin in 1956, enjoying a storied film career that included dozens of popular titles, including the original version of The Nutty Professor.
The news of Lewis passing comes on the heels of Dick Gregory passing away this weekend as well. The comedian and civil rights activist was 84 years of age.
RIP to both of these comedy legends.