Comedian Jerry Lewis Dies at 91

Comedy legend and former telethon host Jerry Lewis passed away Aug. 20 at the age of 91. Lewis died of natural causes at his Las Vegas home, according to his publicist. A number of celebrities, including Robert De Niro and Jim Carrey, have posted tributes to Lewis on social media.

“Jerry was a pioneer in comedy and film,” wrote Robert De Niro in a statement shared by Marlow Stone with “The Daily Beast” on Twitter. “And he was a friend. I was fortunate to have seen him a few times over the past couple of years. Even at 91, he didn’t miss a beat…Or a punchline. You’ll be missed.”

Jim Carrey offered up a tribute to the late comedian as well. “That fool was no dummy,” Carrey tweeted. “Jerry Lewis was an undeniable genius, an unfathomable blessing, comedy’s absolute! I am because he was! ;^D”. Carrey’s tweet featured a photo of a young Lewis.


Lewis rose to fame in the 1940s at the age of 20 when he was half of a comedy duo with singer Dean Martin. The two went on to host “The Colgate Comedy Hour” and also starred in 14 films including “At War with the Army” and “Sailor Beware” which grossed $4.3 million in 1952, or $39.7 million today, as reported by Forbes. In the 1956, Lewis went solo and started a music career, during which he had a five-year residency in Vegas and his album landed a number 3 spot on the Billboard chart.

Jerry Lewis Performs in 1976

Jerry Lewis performs at L’Olympia in Paris in 1976. | STF/AFP/Getty Images

Lewis then went on to transition back into film and during the 1960s he wrote, directed, and starred in movies including the $19 million-grossing “The Nutty Professor,” or over $150 million today. In his movies, his typical role was of a character full of energy and eccentricities, as reported by Forbes.

By the late 1960s as Lewis’ film heyday was slowing down, he began serving as chair of the Muscular Dystrophy Association and hosted the annual telethon from 1966-2010. Over this period, he raised millions to fight the disease.

Jerry Lewis attends the Telethon.

Jerry Lewis attends the Telethon in 1987 in Paris. His Telethon in the USA benefited the Muscular Dystrophy Association. | AFP/Getty Images

Comedian Whoopi Goldberg offered a tribute to the late star. “Jerry Lewis passed today, millions around the world loved him, millions of kids he helped w/his telethons. R.I.P. & condolences 2 his family,” she tweeted.

Lewis battled lung disease pulmonary fibrosis, heart issues, a back problem, and addiction to pain killers, according to The Washington Times.