Iconic comedian Jerry Lewis passes away at 91

LAS VEGAS - Iconic comedian and actor Jerry Lewis passed away on Sunday at the age of 91, according to his publicist. 

Lewis died at his home surrounded by loved ones, said Candi Cazau who worked with Lewis since 1999.

"I cherish the relationship we had. He was an honorable, kind-hearted individual. It's going to be a huge loss for everyone including the entertainment industry," Cazau told 8 News NOW over the phone.  

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman also shared her first meeting of Lewis in the following statement:

"A neighbor and friend for so many years, he was such a laugh but also very deep and wise often sharing his insights for how to build a fuller and more meaningful life. He was a gem and so much more than just an entertainer and comedic icon. He will be beyond missed. My first meeting was with him (and Dean Martin) in a freight elevator in my New York City apartment building when I was 12 years old. I was wowed and I have remained wowed throughout my entire life. This is so sad." 

Lewis suffered a urinary tract infection back January and received treatment in at Las Vegas hospital. This was the latest in a series of medical issues the aging icon suffered in recent years. 

Lewis was the last of the original Las Vegas celebrities, according to Cazau. Lewis was a comedian, actor, director. 

Lewis’ career spanned the history of show business in the 20th century, beginning in his parents’ vaudeville act at the age of 5.

He was just 20 when his pairing with Martin made them international stars.

He went on to make such favorites as “The Bellboy” and “The Nutty Professor,” was featured in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy” and appeared as himself in Billy Crystal’s “Mr. Saturday Night.”

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.

In his 90s, he was still performing standup shows.

A major influence on Jim 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.

His fundraising efforts won him the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 2009 Oscar telecast, an honor he said “touches my heart and the very depth of my soul.” 


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