Sad news on Sunday: Screen legend Jerry Lewis passed away at the age of 91 on Sunday, The Hollywood Reporter reported. The Nutty Professor actor died in his Las Vegas home of natural causes, according to a statement released by his family to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. According to the statement released on Twitter, "Legendary entertainer Jerry Lewis passed away peacefully today of natural causes at 91 at his home [with] family by his side."
Lewis became a comedy icon in the 1950s when he teamed up with Dean Martin. As the foil to Martin's straight man, they formed a duo that audiences and Hollywood couldn't resist. After a bitter end to their friendship in the '60s, Lewis began writing, directing, and starring in his own films including The Nutty Professor, The Bellboy, and The Ladies Man.
Younger generations will perhaps always know Lewis best for his annual Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy telethon. The comedian began his hosting duties in 1955 and continued until 2011. During those years, he raised $2.45 billion for the cause, and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for his work. It was during the 1976 telethon that Lewis and Martin's mutual friend, Frank Sinatra, reunited the two men on stage in a heartwarming moment of reconciliation.
Later in his life, Lewis became plagued by controversy. His comedy acts were often marred by racist and homophobic jokes in his later years. Despite this, his passing marks a sad day for Hollywood. Lewis was a true comedy auteur who helped pave the way for future comedians to leave their individual mark on show business.
As THR notes, Lewis dealt with a number of health issues as he grew older, including open-heart surgery, prostate cancer, and pulmonary fibrosis. Despite this, he continued to work as recently as 2016. According to IMDb, his last film was Nicolas Cage's The Trust.
Lewis married Patti Palmer in 1944, and the two had six sons, the youngest of which, Joseph, died in 2009. Lewis and Palmer divorced in 1982. He married his second wife SanDee Pitnick in 1983, and the couple adopted a daughter, Danielle.
The comedian and champion for finding a cure for Muscular Dystrophy was not without his controversies, but his legend as the quintessential Hollywood funny man will live on.