American comedian Jerry Lewis has died today at the age of 91, following a lengthy career of entertainment and humanitarian work.
A statement issued by reviewer John Katsilometes confirmed the sad news.
“Very sad to report entertainment legend JerryLewis has died today at 9:15 a.m. at his home in Las Vegas. He was 91,” he tweeted.
“Legendary entertainer Jerry Lewis passed away peacefully today of natural causes at 91 at his home with family by his side.”
Jerry, along with his comedy partner Dean Martin, dominated American showbusiness in the 1950s and beyond with his own brand of slapstick humour.
They partnered up as the Martin and Lewis comedy team and performed in nightclubs, on radio and even their own TV shows throughout the 1940s and 50s.
Sadly, their partnership came to an acrimonious end in July 1956. Dean died in December 1995.
During his career, Jerry – born Joseph Levitch – was a prolific activist for those with Muscular Dystrophy and worked to raise over $2.6billion throughout his life, particularly as the emcee for the hugely popular Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, which ran each Labor Day weekend for 44 years.
As well as his comedy, Jerry was also an actor, singer and director – as well as a humanitarian activist.
He was honoured with the lifetime achievement Oscar by the Academy in 2009.
Jerry starred in 1963’s The Nutty Professor and in the 2008 remake, as well as Funny Bones in 1995 and The Bellboy in 1960.
He also played Professor John Frink Sr in The Simpsons for the 2003 Halloween special.
Jerry had tremendous pulling power as one of Paramount’s biggest stars at the height of his fame.
He was even nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 thanks to his charity work.
Tributes have been flooding in from Jerry’s many fans, including Star Trek icon William Shatner.
— Josh Gad (@joshgad) August 20, 2017
And George Takei tweeted: “We have lost a great comedian and even greater heart. Thank you for the laughs and the feels, Jerry Lewis.”
RIP Jerry Lewis. You did a lot of great things for this world. And made a lot of people laugh along the way. pic.twitter.com/YVpLKgKfbA
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) August 20, 2017
— Marlow Stern (@MarlowNYC) August 20, 2017
That fool was no dummy. Jerry Lewis was an undeniable genius an unfathomable blessing, comedy's absolute! I am because he was! ;^D pic.twitter.com/3Zdq9xhXlE
— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) August 20, 2017
Jerry had been plagued by poor health over the years, including a heart attack in 2006 nearly 20 years after his open-heart surgery.
He also underwent an operation for prostate cancer in 1992 and had treatment for his addiction to prescription drugs in 2003.
Jerry was previously married to Patti Palmer and had six children with her – including an adopted son. They divorced in 1980 and he went on to marry SanDee Pitnick three years later, adopting another daughter with her.