Lewis was born Joseph Levitch in 1926 in Newark, New Jersey to show business parents and made his professional debut at the age of 5.
Lewis made a name for himself in the 1940s and 1950s with his slapstick humor and as part of the comedic duo Martin and Lewis with handsome straight man and crooner Dean Martin. The pair performed together for 10 years before going on to successful solo careers.
I'm heartbroken at the loss of our life-long friend (Uncle) Jerry Lewis. I've loved him all my life and will miss him greatly. Deana Martin pic.twitter.com/ECsrZ4haLd
Lewis went on to star in the popular movies “The Nutty Professor” and “The Bellboy” in the 1960s, among many other works.
Over his long career he worked in radio, film, and on stage. He was a screen writer and film producer and director.
One of Lewis’ most critically acclaimed dramatic roles was in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy” in 1982. He played a late-night television host who is kidnapped by two obsessive fans, portrayed by actors Robert De Niro and Sandra Bernhard.
The comedian may have been best known in some circles for his humanitarian efforts off the big screen with his decades-long work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association and his annual MDA Labor Day telethon.
It’s estimated that Lewis’ annual telethons made more than $2 billion to help fight the neuromuscular disease between 1955 and 2011.
In 1977 he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his long years of work on behalf of MDA.
It was incredible knowing & laughing with the Amazing Jerry Lewis! He'll keep'em laffin in the ever after!