11 Facts You May Not Know About Jerry Lewis

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website.

This Labor Day, September 5th, the annual Muscular Dystrophy Telethon will be aired. But unlike every previous telethon for M.D. since 1966 (that's the past 45 years!) one important ingredient will be missing this year. Jerry Lewis!!!

What, no Jerry Lewis on the M.D. Telethon? Kind of like a beach with no bikinis, a cowboy movie with no guns, or, to use a more precise analogy: Christmas without Santa Claus. For a majority of Americans, the M.D. Telethon was always "The Jerry Lewis Telethon."

After earning over $2 billion dollars for his pet cause (and Jerry's Kids), Mr. Lewis was recently very unceremoniously dumped by the M.D. Board of Directors. At the ripe old age of 85, Jerry Lewis, humanitarian and comedy legend, is still alive and well (okay, he admittedly needs to take a couple of dozen pills every day to keep rolling). Let's take a look at eleven facts you may not have known about the only and only Mr. Jerry Lewis, "The King of Comedy."

1. He's wrong about his show business debut (at least the date). Jerry has always claimed he made his show biz debut at the age of 5, singing "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" Jerry's story is that he sang the song before a crowd and accidentally kicked out a light and got his first laugh. Probably true enough, but he couldn't have been 5, as the song "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" wasn't written until 1932, which would have made little Jerry six. A minor point? True, but one wonders why Jerry has never corrected the "date confusion" in all these years.

2. He met Albert Einstein when he was a teenager. In 1943, a 17-year-old Jerry Lewis (three years before he teamed up with Dean Martin) made his television debut. Jerry performed, along with tap-dancing legend Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, and a lady named Arlene Woods, on an early color local TV broadcast, which was transmitted to Princeton, New Jersey. The show was seen by Albert Einstein himself! After the broadcast, Jerry and the others were driven to visit Professor Einstein. "You did a good job, young man," Einstein said to the awestruck teenager.

3. He never wears the same socks twice. Jerry never forgot his early years, his poverty, and the holes in his socks. Thumbing his nose at the past, Jerry will never wear the same pair of socks more than once. He just wears a pair and throws it out. 

4. He sometimes carries his Oscar around. In 2009, Jerry was awarded a "Lifetime Achievement Academy Award" (deservedly so!) for his years of accomplishment. Unlike most other Oscar winners, Jerry sometimes carries his Academy Award around with him. At the Cannes Film Festival in 2009, Jerry pulled it out of a duffel bag at a press conference.  

5. He edits other people's films. A devoted movie fan, Jerry often screens films at his home. When a part of a film bothers or irritates him, Jerry simply takes the film and cuts out the offending scene on his own editing machine. 

6. He always called his partner Dean Martin "Paul." Jerry and his partner Dean Martin were the hottest act in show business for the ten-year partnership (1946-1956). For some reason, Jerry never called Dean "Dean," he always used Martin's middle name "Paul" instead.  

7. Family Jewels remake with John Travolta? Jerry recently met with John Travolta, where the two discussed Travolta starring in a remake of Jerry's 1965 film The Family Jewels, in which Jerry played seven different roles. John  wants to star in the film with his daughter, Ella Bleu.

8. He turned down Some Like It Hot. Jerry was offered the Jack Lemmon role by director Billy Wilder in the 1959 classic comedy Some Like It Hot, but turned it down. Every time Jerry would run into Billy Wilder, Wilder would say, "Schmuck!" Jack Lemmon would send Jerry Flowers every year.

9. He claims to have been intimate with Marilyn Monroe. Hmmm ...and speaking of Some Like It Hot! OK, Jerry is a multi-talented comedic genius, but like all of the rest of us, he has his flaws. One of Jerry's was his notable "straying" from his devoted wife, Patti, during their 36-year marriage. Among Jerry's numerous conquests, he claims, was Marilyn Monroe. The story is hotly contested -Jerry never mentioned it publicly until fairly recently. It is possible, as Marilyn did make a few appearances with Jerry and Dean Martin. And once, in the fifties, Marilyn did name Jerry on her list of "sexiest men." So who knows?
10. He didn't like closed sets; his film sets were "open." During his heyday, when Jerry was starring in his classic comedies, unlike every other filmmaker, Jerry's sets were open, not closed. At Paramount Studios, Jerry had a big sign on his sound stage: "This is not a closed set. Come on in, you are most welcome." Visitors could come inside and watch Jerry film (and direct).
11. He won't carry "dirty money." In his right pocket, Jerry carries his ten and twenties, his "tip money." In his left, he always carries a wad of hundreds and fifties -$4,000 or so. He makes sure one of his aides arranges the bills consecutively, and by serial number.

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Jerry Lewis has to be the least talented human being on this planet. Even at the height of his fame, I never found him funny. And he's worse as a human being, husband and father.
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Jerry Lewis is an incredible person who has given so much of himself for the MD cause. I know he has his flaws but it is such a terrible betrayal for the MD Association to treat him this way. He has been such an inspiration to so many people and has made such a positive difference in the lives of so many as well, he should be honored, admired and recognized for what he has done and not focus on what he has not done. We are all flawed in some way, remember that!!! I honor Jerry, I admire Jerry and he deserves our respect!!!
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Jerry Lewis deserves better than this, but let's not neglect the telethon he loved.

Tears For A Clown

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I was invited to see Lewis perform 'Damn Yankees" on his 70th birthday. In the middle, he stops the show to do a vaudeville comedy act. Best live performance I have ever seen.

One should not look to entertainers to give voice to politics. Enjoy what they do and forgive what they do not.
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