|NEWS OF NOTE
Comedy Legend Jerry Lewis Dies at 91
Jerry Lewis, who found early fame teaming with Dean Martin in the 1950s and later was featured solo in comedies like “The Nutty Professor” and “The Bellboy” before launching the Muscular Dystrophy telethon, died yesterday in his home in Las Vegas. He was 91.
Born Joseph Levitch on March 16, 1926 in Newark, New Jersey, Lewis changed his name from Joey Lewis to Jerry Lewis to avoid confusion with comedian Joe E. Lewis and boxing champion Joe Louis. His first live TV appearance with Dean Martin was on the debut of CBS variety series “Toast of the Town” on June 20, 1948 (which was later retitled “The Ed Sullivan Show”). The duo headlined 17 films together including “My Friend Irma” (1949), “That’s My Boy” (1951), “The Caddy” (1953), “The Stooge” (1954) and “Artists and Models” (1955); and they co-hosted NBC’s “The Colgate Comedy Hour” from 1950 to 1955.
After the partnership ended on July 24, 1956, Lewis began performing regularly at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, which led to a special on NBC in 1957, performances in night clubs across the county, appearances on game show “What’s My Line?,” movies like “The Sad Sack” (1957), “The Geisha Boy” (1958) and “Don’t Give Up the Ship” (1959), and a comic book series. Following aforementioned “The Bellboy” in 1960 came theatrical comedies like “The Ladies Man” (1961), “The Errand Boy” (1961), “The Nutty Professor” (1963), ‘The Patsy” (1964) and “The Disorderly Orderly” (1964).
Lewis also headlined two self-titled primetime variety series: the first on ABC in 1963 and the second for NBC from 1967 to 1969.
Later films on Lewis’ resume included “The Family Jewels” (1965), which he also directed and co-wrote, “Boeing Being” (1965), “Three on a Couch” (1966) , “Way…Way Out” (1966), “The Big Mouth” (1967) and “Hook, Line & Sinker” (1969).
Lewis also taught a film directing class at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles for a number of years, and his students included Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.
After an on-screen absence of 11 years, Lewis returned to film in “Hardly Working” in 1981, followed by Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy” in 1983. He also made a pair of films in France in 1984, “The Defective Detective” and “How Did You Get In? We Didn’t See You Leave,” and he failed at an attempt at a syndicated talk show for Metromedia, also in 1984, which lasted for just five episodes. Later television appearances included five episodes of CBS drama “Wiseguy” and NBC sitcom “Mad About You.”
Lewis made his Broadway debut, as a replacement cast member playing the devil in a revival of “Damn Yankees.”
Lewis , of course, was also known for his efforts as national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. He devoted more than a half-century to fighting the neuromuscular disease, hosting an annual Labor Day telethon — and raising nearly $2.5 billion — from 1955 until he was ousted before the 2011 telecast. Lewis was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for his efforts.
Lewis also appeared in such films as “Cookie” (1989), “Arizona Dream” (1993), “Funny Bones” (1995) and “Max Rose” (2016), and he played opposite Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood in “The Trust” in 2016. He also performed a cameo as himself in Billy Crystal’s “Mr. Saturday Night” in 1992 and guest-starred on a 2006 episode of “Law & Order: SVU.”
When Lewis was 18, he met singer Patti Palmer, and they wed 10 days later. During their marriage, which lasted from 1944 to 1982, they had five sons and adopted another child. His youngest, Joseph, became a drug addict and committed suicide in 2009 at age 45.
Lewis married his second wife, SanDee Pitnick, in 1983. They adopted a daughter, Danielle.
Viola Davis and Julius Tennon to Executive Produce: “EIF Presents: XQ Super School Live”
Oscar winner Viola Davis and Julius Tennon will executive-produce “EIF Presents: XQ Super School Live,” a special one-hour telecast event which will invite the public to help rethink the future of American high schools. The telecast, which will combine live musical, comedy and documentary segments to bring to life the past, present and future of the American high school system, will air live from Los Angeles on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox on Friday, Sept. 8 at 8 p.m. ET.
Donald and Melania Trump to Skip “The Kennedy Center Honors”
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will not attend the annual Kennedy Center Honors in December, the White House announced Saturdaymorning, after two of the honorees, legendary television writer and producer Norman Lear and dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, said they would boycott the White House reception if Trump was present.
“The President and First Lady have decided not to participate in this year’s activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction,” a statement from the White House read.
Lear previously publicly said he would skip the White House reception in protest over the administration’s proposal to cut funding for the arts.
Another honoree, musician and record producer Lionel Richie, said on NBC’s “Today” show last week that he was unsure whether he would go. Also being honored are singer and songwriter Gloria Estefan and hip-hop artist and actor LL Cool J.
Historically, this will be only the fourth time in the event’s 40 years that a president will miss it. President Bill Clinton skipped in 1994 because he was headed to Budapest, Hungary, President George H.W. Bush missed 1989 because of a summit in Malta, and Jimmy Carter skipped in 1979 because of the Iran hostage crisis.
The 40th annual telecast of “The Kennedy Center Honors” will air on CBS on Sunday, December 3rd.
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