Entertainer Jerry Lewis, who was a comic foil to Dean Martin, a celebrated director of slapstick comedies, and a tireless fundraiser for muscular dystrophy in telethons he hosted for decades, has died. He was 91.
Pictured: In "The Nutty Professor" (1963), Lewis starred as Professor Julius Kelp, who creates an elixir that transforms him into a suave ladies man.
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
He was born Joseph Levitch in Newark, New Jersey, on March 16, 1926. Jerry Lewis' show business career began in his parents' vaudeville act at the age of 5, singing the Depression tearjerker "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" By 16, Lewis had dropped out of school and was earning as much as $150 a week as a solo performer, comically lip-syncing to recordings of Danny Kaye, Spike Jones and other artists.
He was just 20 when his pairing with Dean Martin made them international stars.
Pictured: Comedian Bob Hope tries to concentrate on his script as Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis get started on their own comedy high jinks, May 5, 1949.
Martin & Lewis
"I fell in love with him the day we met," Lewis told CBS News' Tracy Smith in 2016.
"For you and Dean, it almost seemed like anarchy," Smith said.
"That's as good an explanation as I've ever heard," Lewis said. "We're both six feet tall. I took his shoes one day and put lifts on them so that he would be a little taller than me."
"Because you thought that was better [for the act] if you looked younger?"
"Oh, yeah. You can't do that unless you're feelin' it," he laughed.
"My Friend Irma"
Jerry Lewis' first film (and his first with partner Dean Martin) was the 1949 comedy "My Friend Irma." The duo would become the world's top box-office earners for seven years running.
"At War With the Army"
Jerry Lewis starred with Dean Martin in the service comedy "At War With the Army" (1950).
Actors from left, Jerry Lewis, Pierre, and Dean Martin, clown for the camera July 13, 1950, in a Hollywood press agent's version of an old Chinese proverb.
Dean Martin, Corinne Calvet and Jerry Lewis in "Sailor Beware" (1952).
Jerry Lewis in "The Stooge" (1952).
Dean Martin, Lizabeth Scott, Jerry Lewis and a friend in the haunted house comedy "Scared Stiff" (1953).
Jerry Lewis in the 1953 comedy "The Caddy."
Rosemary Clooney appeared with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis on "The Colgate Comedy Hour" in 1955.
"Artists and Models"
Shirley MacLaine and Jerry Lewis in the musical comedy "Artists and Models" (1955).
"You're Never Too Young"
Jerry Lewis, disguised as a child, encounters a jewel thief (Raymond Burr) in "You're Never Too Young" (1955).
Jerry Lewis sat in for Edward R. Murrow one night in 1956, and he did quite a good impression of the legendary newsman, too.
"Hollywood or Bust"
The duo's last film together was "Hollywood or Bust" (1956).
After a nonstop decade together the two parted ways, and wouldn't even speak to each other for nearly 20 years.
Jerry Lewis' first feature credit as director was "The Bellboy" (1960). He pioneered the use of video playback during shooting so he could see results instantly.
Jerry Lewis is shown in the projection and cutting room of his Hollywood home on July 29, 1960.
Even as he continued directing in the 1960s, Lewis - who had learned his craft on the fly by watching people on movie sets - wound up teaching a film class to graduate students at the University of Southern California. Among his students: Steven Spielberg.
"Which Way to the Front?"
Jerry Lewis played a 4-F tycoon who funds his own army during World War II so he could infiltrate a Nazi stronghold in the comedy "Which Way to the Front?" (1970)
Jerry Lewis performs as a clown at the 38th Gala de L'Union des Artistes at the Cirque d'Hiver in Paris, France, April 24, 1971. Watching in the background are, from left, Italian film director and producer Vittorio de Sicca, opera singer Maria Callas, an unidentified woman, Italian actress Gigliola Cinmetti, and French singer Hughes Aufray.
"The Day the Clown Cried"
Jerry Lewis shooting "The Day the Clown Cried" with French actor Pierre Etaiy, in Paris, March 20, 1972.
In the story, set during World War II, a circus clown (Lewis) is arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned in a concentration camp, whereupon he entertains children being taken to the gas chambers. Lewis never released "The Day the Clown Cried," its footage long a Holy Grail for film aficionados. But despite the controversy over its content (years before the Roberto Begnini film "Life Is Beautiful"), Lewis has stated that he was displeased with his work. "You will never see it. No one will ever see it," he said in 2013.
Comedian Jerry Lewis is shown during a news conference on June 6, 1973.
A comedian, director and singer, Jerry Lewis jokes during the inauguration of a cinema in his name in Paris, France, March 17, 1972.
Jerry Lewis talks during rehearsal for the musical comedy revue "Hellzapoppin" in New York in October 1976.
Jerry Lewis performs with singer Sammy Davis Jr. during the 1976 telecast of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.
From the early 1950s until 2011, Lewis served as national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and host of its annual Labor Day telethon.
Entertainers Dean Martin joins host Jerry Lewis on the comedian's annual telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, in Las Vegas on Sept. 7, 1976. It was one of the few times the two had appeared together since their partnership dissolved in the late 1950s.
Singers Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis perform during the 1976 Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.
Cannes Film Festival
Actor and comedian Jerry Lewis holds his Nikon camera before taking a picture of French actress Catherine Deneuve during the 32nd Cannes FIlm Festival in Cannes, France, May 24, 1979.
"The King of Comedy"
Robert De Niro's Rupert Pupkin, a celebrity hound and wanna-be standup comic, tries to worm an appearance on the late-night talk show hosted by Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis). When his best efforts at getting his big break fail, Pupkin resorts to kidnapping Langford to get on air, in "The King of Comedy" (1983). Johnny Carson turned down an offer to play Langford, but Lewis brought an amazing bitterness to his performance of a TV icon who comes uncomfortably close to his adoring fans.
Jerry Lewis hams it up for the camera as he pretends to examine his bride's wedding ring at their marriage ceremony in Key Biscayne, Fla., Feb. 13, 1983. Lewis married 32-year-old SanDee Pitnick, a Las Vegas dancer, in a small private ceremony. The twice-married entertainer is the father of a daughter and six sons.
Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gorme and Jerry Lewis during the MDA Telethon at the Sahara Hotel, Sept. 6, 1993.
Jerry Lewis sings "You'll Never Walk Alone" as his final song of the 1999 Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon in Los Angeles.
The money he helped raise over nearly 50 years led to research and longer life spans for MD patients, but it didn't buy a cure, and at times Lewis could only watch as the disease claimed another of "his" kids.
"The days and hours I spent in hospital hallways waiting for the answer of this child -- was he going to live or die? And I took it very personal," he told Tracy Smith. "These children look at you like you're some kind of god. I'm not a god; I just love people. And I love people that are well. I don't like to see someone sick."
Comedian Jerry Lewis, National Chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, gives his microphone to Benjamin Cumbo, a muscular dystrophy patient, during a hearing on muscular dystrophy before the Senate Health Subcommittee Feb. 27, 2001, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Comedian Jerry Lewis and his son, singer Gary Lewis, joke around at the 39th Annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon at CBS Television City on Sept. 5, 2004, in Los Angeles.
Entertainer Jerry Lewis greets singer Celine Dion after she performed at the 41st annual Labor Day Telethon to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association, at the South Coast Hotel & Casino Sept. 3, 2006, in Las Vegas.
Jerry Lewis listens to the final tally of donations during the 43rd annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Labor Day Telethon on Sept. 1, 2008, in Las Vegas.
During the nearly five decades that Lewis hosted the annual MDA telethon, he helped raise $2.7 billion.
In 2009 Jerry Lewis received an honorary Oscar: The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, given in recognition of his charity work.
Cannes Film Festival
From left, composer Michel Legrand, comedian Jerry Lewis and actor Kevin Pollak arrive for the screening of "Nebraska" at the 66th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 23, 2013, in Cannes, France.
"The King of Comedy"
Comedian Jerry Lewis, director Martin Scorsese, and actor Robert De Niro speak following "The King of Comedy" closing night screening at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival on April 27, 2013, in New York.
Jerry Lewis smiles as he speaks during Criss Angel's HELP (Heal Every Life Possible) charity event at the Luxor Hotel and Casino benefiting pediatric cancer research and treatment on September 12, 2016 in Las Vegas.
In "Max Rose" (2016), Lewis played a retired jazz artist coming to terms with his wife's passing.
The slapstick comic admitted to Tracy Smith in 2016 that it was "frustrating as hell" not to be able to get around as he had in his youth. "But like my daughter said, 'Dad, would you have liked not to make 90?' 'No, I'm very happy about it!'"
Lewis died Sunday, August 20, 2017, in Las Vegas. He was 91.