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Jerry Lewis was born Joseph Levitch in Newark New Jersey in 1926. He began performing at an early age. His father was an entertainer and M.C. who performed as Danny Lewis, and his son used the stage name Joey Lewis at first, but changed it to Jerry to avoid confusion with either Joe E. Lewis or boxer Joe Louis. In the late 1940s, he met singer Dean Martin, and Dean served as his "straight man", and they performed in night clubs and TV, and in a string of incredibly successful movies. But as Jerry became more and more the focus of the act Dean became increasingly dissatisfied, and the two broke up in 1956. Jerry continued making movies (writing, directing, and starring in most of them), and many feel many of his solo movies were superior to the ones he made with Dean. Perhaps his best was The Nutty Professor in 1963, where he played a mild mannered professor who turns into Buddy Love, in a wacky parody of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In 1965, Jerry injured his back while performing and became addicted to Percodan, and he battled this addiction for at least a decade. From 1966 to 2010, Jerry hosted the annual Muscular Dystrophy Telethon on TV, which raises millions of dollars every year. In 1976, Dean appeared on the Telethon, and even though they had made some minor appearances together in the past decade, this was widely touted as the first reconciliation of the legendary comedy team. In 1981, Jerry attempted a comeback with Hardly Working, and although the movie made some money, his style of humor had fallen out of favor, and it was the last slapstick comedy movie Jerry made. He switched to dramatic roles, and in 1983 he took the Johnny Carson-like role in Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy, and was great. He also was memorable as Eli Sternberg in an arc of the cult favorite TV show, Wiseguy. There is one movie Jerry Lewis made that was never released, called "The Day the Clown Cried" in 1972. It was completed but then multiple lawsuits kept it from being released. There are constant rumors that one day it WILL be released! Sadly, Jerry passed away in 2017, and the fate of "The Day the Clown Cried" is unknown. There are reports he donated a copy of the film to the Library of Congress in 2015, under the stipulation that it wouldn't be screened before June 2024.
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