Jerry Lewis' Children Will Survive Their Famous Father


Famous comedian and actor Jerry Lewis was found dead in his home Aug. 20 at the age of 91, ending a half-century long era of Rat Pack performers. Six of Jerry Lewis' seven children will survive their famous father, whose controversial public persona never changed with the world around him.

Lewis had seven children from two marriages, the first to Patti Palmer and the second to SanDee Pitnick. Lewis had six sons with Palmer before their divorce in 1980, after 36 years of marriage. He remarried and adopted one daughter, Danielle, in 1992, with Pitnick, who is 25 years his junior.

In 2009, Lewis' youngest son Joseph committed suicide after a long battle with substance abuse. "To this day I don't understand it because it's unfair — not unfair to me, but unfair to him," Lewis said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2014. "That he went that way made the unfairness stupidity. I'll tell you this: You don't get over that."

A woman named Suzan Lewis also came forward in 2008 claiming that Lewis was her biological father, and later offered DNA evidence to support her claims. Suzan Lewis was born in 1953, while Lewis was married to Palmer, and alleged that Lewis had an affair with her mother, model Lynn Dixon. Lewis never confirmed that Suzan was his daughter, nor apparently had a relationship with her.

Lewis had thousands of other children, in a sense, through his charitable work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In 1966, Lewis began hosting the MDA's annual telethon, which lasted through 2010. "Jerry's kids" became synonymous with the disease itself, and Lewis ended up raising an estimated $2 billion for research and support for muscular dystrophy over the years.

None of Lewis' children have made statements regarding their father's death yet, but none are particularly connected to the minute-by-minute world of entertainment. Only one of Lewis' children followed his footsteps into the entertainment industry — the oldest son Gary started the band Gary Lewis & The Playboys in 1964 and produced several hit singles before the group disbanded in 1970.

While Lewis' heyday in the entertainment industry passed long ago, he will be missed by both his large family and his remaining fans. His death may be the end of an era of 50s and 60s Rat Pack celebrities, but his work is still unforgettable to fans of both old and new generations.