JERRY LEWIS was the first entertainer to release his Inner Child–and he’s never been entirely successful at locking it up again.
His hyperactive, goofy little-boy routine was hysterically funny to fifties audiences, kids, and the French, and it has had an obvious influence on the likes of Steve Martin and Jim Carrey.
Lewis was singing in his father’s Borscht Belt vaudeville act at five, and by his late teens he had polished a successful stand-up routine. While performing in Atlantic City at the age of twenty, he met Italian crooner Dean Martin. The two paired up for a decade, and performed in every medium on the way to becoming incredibly rich and famous. When they broke up, Lewis continued to make movies and headline in Vegas, though Martin fared better with his own movies and long-running TV show.
His fund-raiser for muscular dystrophy–the agonizing annual Labor Day telethon–raises millions of dollars. He is a survivor of crippling ulcers, open-heart surgery, a pill addiction, and prostate cancer. Lewis has calmed down somewhat of late. In 1995, he won good reviews in Funny Bones, a close-to-home film about a multi-generational family of entertainers, and was a fine Devil in Broadway’s Damn Yankees.
classic quote: People hate me because I am a multifaceted, talented, wealthy, internationally famous genius. – Jerry Lewis