Cause of death for Lewis released, Vegas pays tribute to legend

LAS VEGAS - The Clark County Coroner's Office released the cause of comedian Jerry Lewis Monday.

"This case was reported to us but didn't fall under our jurisdiction as it was a natural death," said Jon Fudenberg, Clark County Coroner.  "The physician attending to Mr. Lewis at the time said it was end-stage cardiac disease due to peripheral vascular disease."

Iconic comedian and Las Vegas local Jerry Lewis was honored Monday night in a way only the city can. His name and face were shown on marquees all over the strip and downtown following his death over the weekend.

Lewis, the manic, rubber-faced showman who jumped and hollered to fame in a lucrative partnership with Dean Martin, settled down to become a self-conscious screen auteur and found an even greater following as the tireless, teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons.

The 91-year-old died Sunday in Las Vegas with his family by his side, publicist Candi Cazau said.

Tributes from friends, co-stars, and disciples poured in immediately.

“That fool was no dummy. Jerry Lewis was an undeniable genius an unfathomable blessing, comedy’s absolute!” Jim Carrey wrote Sunday on Twitter. “I am because he was!”

“The world has lost a true innovator & icon,” comedian Dane Cook wrote.

“Jerry was a pioneer in comedy and film. 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,” Lewis’ “The King of Comedy” co-star Robert De Niro said in a statement.

In the 1990s, he scored a stage comeback as the devil in the Broadway revival of “Damn Yankees.” And after a 20-year break from making movies, Lewis returned as the star of the independent drama “Max Rose,” released in 2016.

In his 80s, he was still traveling the world, working on a stage version of “The Nutty Professor.” He was so active he would sometimes forget the basics, like eating, his associates would recall. In 2012, Lewis missed an awards ceremony thrown by his beloved Friars Club because his blood sugar dropped from lack of food and he had to spend the night in the hospital.

A major influence on Carrey and other slapstick performers, Lewis also was known as the ringmaster of the Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Association, joking and reminiscing and introducing guests, sharing stories about ailing kids and concluding with his personal anthem, the ballad “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” From the 1960s onward, the telethons raised some $1.5 billion, including more than $60 million in 2009. He announced in 2011 that he would step down as host, but would remain chairman of the association he joined some 60 years ago.


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