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.
Jerry Lewis passes today. HipHop had a dance named after him. Last time I performed on @jimmyfallon He was there. Earth is less funny today— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) August 20, 2017
Dude. My Scorsese obsession are his under the radar joints (After Hours, Cape Fear, even have a soft spot for Ny Ny) but NO film am I more obsessed with than #TheKingOfComedy I literally think of this film and these characters EVERYTIME I set foot in/out/around/about 30rock---even before that became the place of my employ. A MASTERFUL study of fan obsession (I bet ANY amount of money @phontigallo gonna drop an #RupertPupkin reference on his page any moment)---this was my favorite of all of the great #JerryLewis' gems in his arsenal. Y'all gotta understand sundays after church before dinner you were most likely watching #BlondieAndDagwood #3Stooges or a #MartinAndLewis classic ---seen em all man. Even had the pleasure of being on his telethon w my dad back in the summer of 88 (thank god that is NOWHERE to be found rotf)---that was one of the most exciting times of my pre professional life he was so cool man. Y'all just don't know man to lose 2 comic gods like this. Man. #JerryLewis rip.
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.
So saddened to learn of the passing of Jerry Lewis, a true comic icon. In Boston 1947 I roared at his and Dean's first ever performance— carl reiner (@carlreiner) August 20, 2017
That fool was no dummy. Jerry Lewis was an undeniable genius an unfathomable blessing, comedy's absolute! I am because he was! ;^D pic.twitter.com/3Zdq9xhXlE— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) August 20, 2017
How did my life get good enough that Jerry Lewis would smile at me? And how sad to lose him. pic.twitter.com/taPhl1utzO— Penn Jillette (@pennjillette) August 20, 2017
Rest In Peace, Jerry Lewis.— Raja Sen (@RajaSen) August 20, 2017
Yours was a life well laughed. pic.twitter.com/N4HlSWrdYh
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.