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Lewis in the 1960s
Jerome or Joseph Levitch
March 16, 1926
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||August 20, 2017
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, comedian, singer, producer, director, screenwriter, humanitarian|
Patti Palmer (m. 1944; div. 1980)
SanDee Pitnick (m. 1983)
|Children||7, including Gary|
Jerry Lewis (born either Jerome Levitch or Joseph Levitch, depending on the source; March 16, 1926 – August 20, 2017) was an American comedian, actor, singer, producer, director, screenwriter, and humanitarian. He was known for his slapstick humor in film, television, stage and radio. From 1946 to 1956, he and Dean Martin were partners as the hit popular comedy duo of Martin and Lewis. Following that success, he was a solo star in motion pictures, nightclubs, television shows, concerts, album recordings, and musicals.
Lewis served as national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association and hosted the live Labor Day weekend broadcast of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon for 44 years. He received several awards for lifetime achievement from the American Comedy Awards, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Venice Film Festival and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and was honored with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Lewis was born on March 16, 1926, at Newark Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, to Russian Jewish parents. His father, Daniel Levitch (1902–1980), was a master of ceremonies and vaudeville entertainer who used the professional name Danny Lewis. His mother, Rachel "Rae" Levitch (née Brodsky), was a piano player for a radio station. Lewis started performing at age five and would often perform alongside his parents in the Catskill Mountains in New York. By 15, he had developed his "Record Act" in which he exaggeratedly mimed the lyrics to songs on a phonograph. He used the professional name Joey Lewis but soon changed it to Jerry Lewis to avoid confusion with comedian Joe E. Lewis and heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis. He dropped out of Irvington High School in the tenth grade. He was a "character" even in his teenage years, pulling pranks in his neighborhood including sneaking into kitchens to steal fried chicken and pies. During World War II, he was rejected for military service because of a heart murmur.
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