Comedy legend Jerry Lewis dies at 91

Jerry Lewis, the rubber-faced comedian and director whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died. Publicist Candi Cazau says Lewis passed away Sunday morning of natural causes at age 91 in Las Vegas with his family by his side. Lewis first became a star in a duo with Dean Martin, entertaining audiences in nightclubs, on television and in the movies. After their split in 1956, he starred in and directed a slew of hit films such as “The Nutty Professor.”

  • File – Comedian Jerry Lewis try to figure out how Pierre, a five-year old chimpanzee, and fellow Hollywood actor, managed to get seven aces and three red threes during a canasta game they were playing on Jan. 27, 1950. After all Jerry dealt the cards. Lewis, the comedian and director whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died. Publicist Candi Cazau said Lewis passed away Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, at age 91 in Las Vegas with his family by his side. (AP Photo/Frank Filan)

    File – Comedian Jerry Lewis try to figure out how Pierre, a five-year old chimpanzee, and fellow Hollywood actor, managed to get seven aces and three red threes during a canasta game they were playing on Jan. 27, 1950. After all Jerry dealt the cards. Lewis, the comedian and director whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died. Publicist Candi Cazau said Lewis passed away Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, at age 91 in Las Vegas with his family by his side. (AP Photo/Frank Filan)

  • File – Jerry Lewis in his Las Vegas home office, where he writes his one-man show. Lewis, the comedian whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died according to his publicist. (Photo by Norma Meyer)

    File – Jerry Lewis in his Las Vegas home office, where he writes his one-man show. Lewis, the comedian whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died according to his publicist. (Photo by Norma Meyer)

  • 22nd April 1971: American comedian and film star Jerry Lewis with a model of the ‘Jerry Lewis Cinema’. Lewis, the comedian whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died according to his publicist. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

    22nd April 1971: American comedian and film star Jerry Lewis with a model of the ‘Jerry Lewis Cinema’. Lewis, the comedian whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died according to his publicist. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

  • Actor-comedian Jerry Lewis and his wife, singer Patti, pose with their third son, Scott Anthony Lewis, 6 1/2 weeks old, in Los Angeles, Ca., April 12, 1956. (AP Photo)

    Actor-comedian Jerry Lewis and his wife, singer Patti, pose with their third son, Scott Anthony Lewis, 6 1/2 weeks old, in Los Angeles, Ca., April 12, 1956. (AP Photo)

  • File – Comedian Jerry Lewis looks unhappy about arriving late for Adolph Zukor’s birthday party January 7, 1953 in Hollywood, Calif. Lewis’ wife Patti tries to reasure him. Lewis, the comedian and director whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died. Publicist Candi Cazau said Lewis passed away Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, at age 91 in Las Vegas with his family by his side. (AP Photo/ Harold Filan)

    File – Comedian Jerry Lewis looks unhappy about arriving late for Adolph Zukor’s birthday party January 7, 1953 in Hollywood, Calif. Lewis’ wife Patti tries to reasure him. Lewis, the comedian and director whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died. Publicist Candi Cazau said Lewis passed away Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, at age 91 in Las Vegas with his family by his side. (AP Photo/ Harold Filan)

  • File – Jerry Lewis in his Las Vegas home office, where he writes his one-man show. Memories of his long career fill his Vegas home. (Photo by Norma Meyer)

    File – Jerry Lewis in his Las Vegas home office, where he writes his one-man show. Memories of his long career fill his Vegas home. (Photo by Norma Meyer)

  • American actor Jerry Lewis shown May 25, 1982 at Cannes Film Festival in France. Lewis, the comedian and director whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died. Publicist Candi Cazau said Lewis passed away Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, at age 91 in Las Vegas with his family by his side. (AP Photo/Levy)

    American actor Jerry Lewis shown May 25, 1982 at Cannes Film Festival in France. Lewis, the comedian and director whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died. Publicist Candi Cazau said Lewis passed away Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, at age 91 in Las Vegas with his family by his side. (AP Photo/Levy)

  • File – Jerry Lewis in his Las Vegas home office, where he writes his one-man show. Memories of his long career fill his Vegas home. (Photo by Norma Meyer)

    File – Jerry Lewis in his Las Vegas home office, where he writes his one-man show. Memories of his long career fill his Vegas home. (Photo by Norma Meyer)

  • US comedian, director and singer Jerry Lewis performs at L’Olympia in Paris on May 19, 1976. Born in 1926, Jerry Lewis appeared in about fifty films in the 50s and 60s such as “My friend Irma” with Dean Martin and directed different films such as “the Nutty Professor”. In the 70s he mainly acted in TV shows and the theater. (STF/AFP/Getty Images)

    US comedian, director and singer Jerry Lewis performs at L’Olympia in Paris on May 19, 1976. Born in 1926, Jerry Lewis appeared in about fifty films in the 50s and 60s such as “My friend Irma” with Dean Martin and directed different films such as “the Nutty Professor”. In the 70s he mainly acted in TV shows and the theater. (STF/AFP/Getty Images)

  • FILE – In this April 12, 2014, file photo, actor and comedian Jerry Lewis poses during an interview at TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. Lewis, the comedian and director whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died. Publicist Candi Cazau said Lewis passed away Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, at age 91 in Las Vegas with his family by his side. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP Images, File)

    FILE – In this April 12, 2014, file photo, actor and comedian Jerry Lewis poses during an interview at TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. Lewis, the comedian and director whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died. Publicist Candi Cazau said Lewis passed away Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, at age 91 in Las Vegas with his family by his side. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP Images, File)

  • On a visit to Slapsy Maxie’s Hollywood night club, actress Ann Sothern chats with two of the club’s performers, Dean Martin, left, singer and comedian, and Jerry Lewis, comedian, Aug. 14, 1948. (AP Photo/Ed Widdis)

    On a visit to Slapsy Maxie’s Hollywood night club, actress Ann Sothern chats with two of the club’s performers, Dean Martin, left, singer and comedian, and Jerry Lewis, comedian, Aug. 14, 1948. (AP Photo/Ed Widdis)

  • File – Jerry Lewis in his Las Vegas home office, where he writes his one-man show. Lewis, the comedian whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died according to his publicist. (Photo by Norma Meyer)

    File – Jerry Lewis in his Las Vegas home office, where he writes his one-man show. Lewis, the comedian whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died according to his publicist. (Photo by Norma Meyer)

  • FILE – In this Sept. 2, 1990, file photo, entertainer Jerry Lewis makes his opening remarks at the 25th Anniversary of the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon fundraiser in Los Angeles. Lewis, the comedian and director whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died. Publicist Candi Cazau said Lewis passed away Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, at age 91 in Las Vegas with his family by his side. (AP Photo/Julie Markes, File)

    FILE – In this Sept. 2, 1990, file photo, entertainer Jerry Lewis makes his opening remarks at the 25th Anniversary of the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon fundraiser in Los Angeles. Lewis, the comedian and director whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died. Publicist Candi Cazau said Lewis passed away Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, at age 91 in Las Vegas with his family by his side. (AP Photo/Julie Markes, File)

  • FILE – In this Sept. 7, 1976, file photo, entertainers Dean Martin, left, and Jerry Lewis appear together on Lewis’s annual telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in Las Vegas, Nev. Lewis, the manic, rubber-faced showman who jumped and hollered to fame in a lucrative partnership with Martin, settled down to become a self-conscious screen auteur and found an even greater following as the tireless, teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons, has died. He was 91. His publicist said Lewis died Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/File)

    FILE – In this Sept. 7, 1976, file photo, entertainers Dean Martin, left, and Jerry Lewis appear together on Lewis’s annual telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in Las Vegas, Nev. Lewis, the manic, rubber-faced showman who jumped and hollered to fame in a lucrative partnership with Martin, settled down to become a self-conscious screen auteur and found an even greater following as the tireless, teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons, has died. He was 91. His publicist said Lewis died Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/File)

  • File – Newlyweds Comedian Jerry Lewis married 32-year-old SanDee Pitnick, a Las Vegas dancer, in a small private ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 13, 1983 in Key Biscayne,Fla. (AP Photo/Doug Jennings)

    File – Newlyweds Comedian Jerry Lewis married 32-year-old SanDee Pitnick, a Las Vegas dancer, in a small private ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 13, 1983 in Key Biscayne,Fla. (AP Photo/Doug Jennings)

  • Jerry Lewis looks at this sandwich after dumping matches on it at the muscular dystrophy $100-a-plate-benefit at the McDonald’s on Fifth Avenue in New York on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 1976. Lewis had thought he was putting salt on his sandwich, but had mistakenly picked up a match container. (AP Photo/Ron Frehm)

    Jerry Lewis looks at this sandwich after dumping matches on it at the muscular dystrophy $100-a-plate-benefit at the McDonald’s on Fifth Avenue in New York on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 1976. Lewis had thought he was putting salt on his sandwich, but had mistakenly picked up a match container. (AP Photo/Ron Frehm)

  • Actor-comedian Jerry Lewis, playing the piano, and actress Lynn Redgrave perform a selection from their musical comedy revue, “Hellzapoppin,” at New York’s ’21’ Club, Monday, Dec. 6, 1976. (AP Photo)

    Actor-comedian Jerry Lewis, playing the piano, and actress Lynn Redgrave perform a selection from their musical comedy revue, “Hellzapoppin,” at New York’s ’21’ Club, Monday, Dec. 6, 1976. (AP Photo)

  • Actor-comedian Jerry Lewis talks during rehearsal for the musical comedy revue “Hellzapoppin” in New York in Oct. 1976. (AP Photo)

    Actor-comedian Jerry Lewis talks during rehearsal for the musical comedy revue “Hellzapoppin” in New York in Oct. 1976. (AP Photo)

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Later generations knew him primarily as the tireless conductor of the Labor Day weekend telethons to raise funds for victims of muscular dystrophy. Lewis retired from making movies in 1995, but returned as star of the 2016 drama “Max Rose.

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