Hollywood is paying tribute to the late Jerry Lewis in the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter.
Carl Reiner, Deana Martin, daughter of the legendary Dean Martin, and James Lipton are among those reminiscing about their time with Lewis, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 91.
Comedy actor and writer Reiner, 95, was friends with Lewis for seven decades, first meeting back in 1947. “He owned the zany, crazy approach,” Reiner says. “Throughout the years I got to know him and spend time with him.”
For Reiner and generations of comedians who came after him, Lewis was an inspiration. “They say that mankind goes back to the first guy rubbing sticks together and making fire, which everyone else tried their best to copy. In the world of comedy, that guy was Jerry Lewis,” he says.
“Jerry’s comedic imagination knew no bounds. It was limitless,” adds “Inside The Actors Studio” host James Lipton.
One of Lewis’ most influential comedy partnerships was with Dean Martin. Together for a decade, Martin & Lewis brought their comedy style to radio, TV and film, making 17 movies together and countless appearances on stage. Then, a bitter breakup led to 20 years of silence between the former friends until 1976 when, with the help of Frank Sinatra, the duo reunited and buried the hatchet on live TV during one of Lewis’ Labour Day telethons for the Muscular Distrophy Association.
“To see them hug, it was remarkable to me because none of us knew. Nobody knew that was going to happen,” Martin’s daughter Deana tells THR of their reunion, revealing she and Lewis later spoke of the feud between him and her father.
“We talked about that time, and Jerry would say, ‘I was just too impressed with myself. I was too worried about me, I was selfish in those days, and I wasn’t thinking about anybody but me, and I ignored my partner,'” she says. “He was very honest with me.”
“Growing up, he was always just Uncle Jerry,” she says, adding, “I loved him and thought he was just so funny.”