WASHINGTON – Legendary actor and comedian Jerry Lewis, who starred in such films as “The Bellboy” (1960) and “The Nutty Professor” (1963), died on Sunday in Las Vegas, his agent, Candi Cazau, said. He was 91.
Although the precise cause of death has not been announced, in June the actor was hospitalized in Las Vegas after developing a urinary tract infection, the latest in his long history of health problems, including a heart attack in 2006.
Lewis rose to fame alongside crooner and comedian Dean Martin with whom in 1946 he exploded onto the stage as one half of one of the most memorable duos in US comedy history.
During the subsequent 10 years, the pair starred in numerous comic films, including “My Friend Irma” (1949), “The Stooge” (1952), “The Caddy” (1953), “Artists and Models” (1955) and “Pardners” (1956), making millions.
After years of intense work and many successes, differences between the pair began to emerge and in 1956, after filming “Hollywood or Bust,” they made their last appearance together.
Lewis had a huge impact on the film world as both an actor and director over the past 60 years, and he was active for many years on his annual Labor Day charity telethon for the benefit of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, an effort during which he collected more than $2.45 billion starting in 1966 and lasting until 2011.
Lewis was born on March 16, 1926, in Newark, New Jersey, to a pair of entertainers. In his 1982 autobiography, “Jerry Lewis: In Person,” he gave his birth name as Joseph Levitch, but other sources claim that his first name was Jerome.