Jazz legend Terry Gibbs talks about working with Jerry Lewis in Las Vegas.
Jerry Lewis, original name Joseph Levitch, (born March 16, 1926, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.—died August 20, 2017, Las Vegas, Nevada), American comedian, actor, and director whose unrestrained comic style made him one of the most popular performers of the 1950s and ’60s.
Lewis was born into a vaudeville family, and at age 12 he developed a comedy act in which he mimed to records. He dropped out of high school in order to perform his specialty in New York City theatres, burlesque shows, and nightclubs. He first met singer Dean Martin in 1944, and two years later they officially became a performing team. Their act consisted of Martin singing, Lewis clowning, and both joining forces for a rousing finale of music and comedy. Well-received performances in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and at New York City’s Copacabana nightclub resulted in an offer from Paramount.
Their first film, My Friend Irma (1949), established Martin and Lewis as box-office stars, and the follow-ups My Friend Irma Goes West and At War with the Army (both 1950) were equally successful. Martin and Lewis became the most popular comedy team of the decade and appeared in 16 films in eight years, including Scared Stiff (1953), Living It Up (1954), Artists and Models (1955), and Hollywood or Bust (1956). They were also frequent television guests and part of a series of rotating hosts of NBC’s The Colgate Comedy Hour. It was during their stint with NBC that Lewis began his long involvement with the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA)