Jerry Lewis Dead at 91

Legendary comedian Jerry Lewis, has died at 91-years-old today. The comic genius behind ‘Nutty Professor,’ and MDA telethon, died at his Las Vegas home Sunday morning. The news was later confirmed by Lewis’s agent.

Born Joseph Levitch (or, per biographer Shawn Levy, Jerome Levitch) was born into a show-business family on March 16, 1926, in Newark, N.J. Lewis’s father was a Catskills entertainer; his mother, a pianist.

The Hollywood icon, Jerry Lewis starred in more than 50 movies. From the Martin-and-Lewis fare of Artists and Models to Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy as well as starred in, wrote, and directed the original Nutty Professor. Lewis also served as longtime host of the MDA telethon.

In a 2005 Los Angeles Times piece that stumped for an Academy tribute for Lewis, writer David Weddle suggested that Lewis’s reputation as a “tantrum-throwing egomaniac” might have hurt his stock with the Hollywood community.

Lewis was the center of controversy for his history of comments against women who work in comedy (“I don’t like any female comedians”), women who work in any professional field (“I think of [a woman] as a producing machine that brings babies in the world.”), and the very people his telethon was designed to help (“You don’t want to be pitied because you’re a cripple in a wheelchair? Stay in your house.”).

In recent years, Lewis battled a variety of health problems. His battle with pulmonary fibrosis pushed him to contemplate suicide, he eventually revealed. Earlier this year, Lewis required hospitalization and rehab for a urinary-tract infection.

“No comedian since Charles Chaplin has been so loved and so reviled,” David Weddle wrote in his defense of Lewis.

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