“Forgotten Hollywood”- Remembering a Comedic Pioneer…

Posted on August 20, 2017 by raideoman1 | No Comments

Manny P. here… 

“`In the wake of the passing of comedian and social activist Dick Gregory, a legend of the stage and screen has died.  Admittedly, an acquired taste, Jerry Lewis was a major star for seven decades.  He trail-blazed a path in early television;  along with Dean Martin, they inherited the comedy duo-mantle made popular by the movie antics of Laurel and Hardy and Abbott and Costello; he raised money for his kids to end Muscular Dystophy; and he had a memorable cinematic career. His son Gary was a pop singer and his group, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, had a string of hits in 1965-1966.

“`Jerry Lewis’ (above) career spanned a colorful history of show business throughout the 20th Century, beginning with his parents’ vaudeville act when he was just 5 years of age. At 20, his pairing with Martin made them international stars.  Martin and Lewis delighted audiences with their stage antics, and on television on  The Colgate Comedy Hour.  Newspaper columnists, Walter Winchell and Ed Sullivan, raved over the sexy singer and the berserk clown. Hollywood producer Hal Wallis saw them at New York’s Copacabana, and signed them to a film contract. Together, they appeared in supporting roles in  My Friend Irma and  My Friend Irma Goes West. Both would eventually star in a series of light comedies throughout the mid-1950s.

“`Martin grew tired of playing the straight man, and the dizzying pace of their work. He began openly sparring with Lewis on stage. In 1956, the team dissolved. They remained apart for 20 years; until Frank Sinatra brought them together, as part of a surprise appearance, during one of Jerry’s live telethons in 1976.

“`After the team split up, Lewis went on to star in The Bellboy, Cinderfella, The Disorderly Orderly, and The Nutty Professor, was featured in Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy, and appeared as himself in Billy Crystal’s  Mr. Saturday Night. Retaining complete control of his own productions,  he pioneered the playback device that is still used in cinema to this day. In the 1990s, he scored a stage hit as the devil in a Broadway revival of Damn Yankees.

“`Lewis was the face of the  Muscular Dystrophy Association Labor Day telethon,  joking and reminiscing, and introducing guests, sharing stories about ailing children, and concluding with his personal anthem, You’ll Never Walk Alone. From the 1960s, his telethons raised $1.5 billion, including over $60 million in 2009. He stepped down as official host in 2011.  He did remain as chairman of the association he joined some 60 years before. Jerry’s MDA fundraising efforts earned him the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 2009 Oscars.

“`France embraced the humor of Jerry Lewis. The French government awarded the comedian a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1983, and Commander of Arts and Letters the following year.  He also had his detractors. However, they never affected Lewis’ outlook on comedy. He remained true to his brand of humor.

“`He influenced scores of comedians, including Jim Carrey, and many of the television stars of Saturday Night Live. In Las Vegas, a message honoring the comedian is being featured on a marquee at Caesars Palace, where Lewis was once a headliner, and also hosted telethons. In Los Angeles, fans gathered at Lewis’ two Hollywood Walk of Fame stars; one for television and one for film.

“`Larger-than-life, Jerry Lewis was 91.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

This entry was posted on Sunday, August 20th, 2017 at 10:11 pm and is filed under Blog by Manny Pacheco. You can follow any comments to this post through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.


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