Entertainer and humanitarian Jerry Lewis is dead. Lewis passed away this morning at his Las Vegas home. He was 91.
Born in 1926 in New Jersey to Russian Jewish parents, both of whom were entertainers as well, he was onstage with them almost as soon as he could walk. When he reached his teenage years, he had developed what would later be called a "Record Act" in which a phonograph would play offstage and he would humorously mimic the song. He sporadically obtained bookings with his act. He was later spotted doing his routine at a New York hotel and a fellow comedian, Irving Kaye, took notice of him and managed to get him more work.
In 1945, he met singer Dean Martin in New York, but it would be another year before the two actually worked together and start one of the greatest partnerships in American show business history that would last just a decade. Increasing tensions between the two both personally and professionally came to a boil and the two called it quits in 1956. After parting ways with Dean Martin, he went on to a successful solo career as both actor and director, appearing in such films as The Bellboy, The Patsy, and The Nutty Professor.
Lewis was as well known for his humanitarian work and his involvement with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which dated back all the way to the early 1950s. In 1966, the MDA decided to hold an annual telethon on Labor Day with Jerry Lewis as the host, a role in which he continued through 2009.
The comedian and humanitarian reportedly passed away this morning at his Las Vegas home.
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