Much-loved American comic behind hit films such as The Nutty Professor has died in Las Vegas
Jerry Lewis, the king of comedy who dominated 1950s Hollywood, has died at the age of 91.
His publicist, Candi Cazau, said the American comic died Sunday morning of natural causes in Las Vegas with his family by his side.
Figures from the world of film paid tribute to the American entertainer, known for hit films such as the Nutty Professor and for his comedy double act with Dean Martin.
Robert De Niro, who starred with Lewis in the 1982 film The King of Comedy, said in a statement: 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 didnt miss a beat . Or a punchline. Youll be missed.
Jamie Lee Curtis, whose mother Janet Leigh starred with Lewis in films such as Living it Up and Three on a Couch, tweeted:
Whoopi Goldberg posted: Jerry Lewis passed today, millions around the world loved him, millions of kids he helped w/his telethons. R.I.P. &condolences 2 his family.
Jim Carrey tweeted: That fool was no dummy. Jerry Lewis was an undeniable genius an unfathomable blessing, comedys absolute! I am because he was! ;^D
Lewis, at his prime, was embraced as the ultimate 20th-century village idiot, a pocket tornado who blended slapstick prowess with squeaky-voiced histrionics. It was a combination that helped make him the industrys top box-office draw for several years running. I was about as discreet as a bull taking a piss in your living room, he once confessed.
Yet while beloved by the masses, the comic also found himself lauded by the artistic elite in France, where he was eventually awarded the prestigious Lgion dhonneur. The critics at French magazine Cahiers du Cinma hailed him as an American auteur, a visionary to rank alongside John Ford and Orson Welles.
Born in Newark, New Jersey, Lewis honed his act on the borscht-belt comedy circuit. He found early fame in tandem with the entertainer Dean Martin. The pair collaborated on 17 pictures, including The Stooge, Living it Up and Three Ring Circus, with Martin typically playing the suave straight man to Lewiss unruly clown. Following the partnerships acrimonious breakdown in the late 1950s, Lewis went on to score solo successes with the likes of Cinderfella, The Bellboy and The Nutty Professor.