JERRY Lewis, the slapstick comedian best known for his comedy/singing act with Dean Martin and tireless efforts to fight muscular dystrophy, has died. He was 91.The comedy legend died of natural causes, surrounded by his family, in his Las Vegas home at 9.15am Sunday (2.15am Monday AEST), his publicist Candi Cazau confirmed.
Lewis sprang to fame in the 1950s as a zany comic performer in nightclubs, on television and in the movies, launching his act as the cross-eyed sidekick of the suave singer Dean Martin.
During their 10-year partnership, the duo starred in 16 films and achieved huge box office success.
After their split in 1956, Lewis starred in a slew of hit films such as The Nutty Professor, Cinderfella and The Bellboy. He featured in more than 45 films in a career spanning five decades.
Later generations knew him primarily as the tireless conductor of the US telethons for victims of muscular dystrophy, raising millions of dollars for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Lewis retired from making movies in 1995, but returned as star of the 2016 drama Max Rose.
He once said he hoped that his antics helped pull France into a better place in the decades after World War II.
That nation’s sense of humour “took France through all those difficult years, and will take it through difficult times now because the French are not afraid to laugh,” Lewis observed.
The Nutty Professor was honoured with France’s Legion of Honor award in 1983.