Jerry Lewis, the brash slapstick comic who teamed with Dean Martin in the 1950s and later starred in “The Nutty Professor” and “The Bellboy” before launching the Muscular Dystrophy telethon, has died in Las Vegas. He was 91.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes reported that he died at his home at 9:15 a.m. and his agent confirmed the news.
Over the past 10 years of his life, the cranky icon’s reputation soured as he was forced to apologize for making a gay slur on camera during the 2007 telethon. He also continued to make racist and misogynistic jokes into his ’90s, and didn’t hesitate to share his right-wing political views.
He appeared in a few later films such as Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy” — pictured above with the film’s director — but Lewis was largely offscreen from the late ’60s on. He was more active with his annual Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy telethon, for which he raised more than $2.45 billion before being relieved of his role as leader of the telethon in 2011.
As late as 2016, he continued to perform in Las Vegas, where he first did his comedy routine in 1949.