Comedian and philanthropist, Jerry Lewis, whose name at birth was Jerome Levitch, was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. His parents were Russian Jewish immigrants, who during Jerry’s childhood performed a vaudeville song-and-dance act at resorts in the Catskill Mountains.
Jerry dropped out of high school to pursue his own career. In 1945, he met singer Dean Martin with whom he formed a nightclub act with Dean as the crooner and Jerry as the comedian. Together they moved to TV and movies.
First and foremost, Jerry was a family man and man of faith. He talks in a You Tube video about his first marriage to Patti Palmer, who was a Catholic, their commitment to family, their interfaith marriage, his growing faith, as well as his growing comfort in a Christian church. He had 4 of his 6 sons baptized in the Catholic church. On the door of his house it said that their home was open to sunshine, friends, and God. In this video, he tells about the religion in his heart and describes himself as a very religious man.
He was also known for his charity work. Upon his death, MDA Chairman of the Board R. Rodney Howell said, “The Muscular Dystrophy Association is deeply saddened by the death of beloved comedian, performer, humanitarian and former MDA telethon star and national chairman Jerry Lewis. MDA would not be the organization it is today if it were not for Jerry’s tireless efforts on behalf of ‘his kids.’ His enthusiasm for finding cures for neuromuscular disease was matched only by his unyielding commitment to see the fight through to the end…'”
Jerry Lewis remains the only comedian to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
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