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Rain of tributes after the death of the American actor Jerry Lewis

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – Frederic J. BROWN – | Jerry Lewis in Hollywood on April 12, 2014

The comedian and American actor Jerry Lewis, also at ease on stage as before or behind the camera, died Sunday at the age of 91, announced his agent.

Hollywood’s big names and the White House immediately paid tribute to this complete artist, a tireless creator of essentially visual comic gags.

He died at his home in Las Vegas. “Jerry died peacefully at home with natural death, surrounded by his family and friends,” said Nancy Kane, who represented the actor.

“The world has lost one of the most remarkable human beings,” she added.

Born Joseph Levitch in Newark, New Jersey, on March 16, 1926, in a Jewish family of Russian origin, this man with a puppy face seemed to have retained his childhood in the depths of his astonished gaze.

“One is not serious when one has perpetually nine years,” affirmed the one that his parents, both artists of music hall, called Mr. Neon.

False teeth, false noses, tall, he juggled with infirmities. His art of duplication found its apogee in “The Nutty Professor” (Doctor Jerry and Mister Love).

– Tandem with Dean Martin –

Actor in more than 60 films, Jerry Lewis was also producer and director.

His meeting with the singer Dean Martin in 1946 was decisive. After their participation in the famous Ed Sullivan Show (1948), they were hired by Paramount, and in their first film, “My friend Irma”, they attracted a large audience.

Ⓒ INTERCONTINENTALE/AFP – – | Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in the 50’s

Ten years later, they decided to pursue a solo career.

Jerry Lewis becomes the main interpreter of films often directed by Frank Tashlin, like “The Geisha Boy” and “Cinderfella” (Cinderella with big feet).

Becoming a film professor at the University of Southern California, he realized “Which Way To The Front”, tribute to Chaplin and new variation on the favorite theme of the double.

After ten years of absence in the cinema, “the burlesque idiot” found his audience in “Hardly working” before Martin Scorsese in 1983 and Emir Kusturica in 1991 offer him a dramatic role respectively In “The King of Comedy” and “Arizona Dream”.

In addition to his artistic activities, Jerry Lewis, father of seven children, was actively involved in the physical and mental disabilities. His constant commitment to the fight against muscular dystrophy, with the animation since 1966 of a telethon for myopaths, earned him a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The tributes flocked to the announcement of his death.

“Jerry Lewis was a master,” said filmmaker Martin Scorsese, “he was a great fancier, a great artist, and a remarkable man, and I had the honor of working with him and It was an experience that I will always cherish “.

“This madman was not an idiot,” said comedic actor Jim Carrey, who quotes him as a source of inspiration. “Jerry Lewis was undeniably a genius, an incredible blessing, the absolute of comedy! I exist because he existed!”

“Jerry was a pioneer in comedy and cinema, and he was a friend,” actor Robert De Niro wrote in a statement. “Even at the age of 91, he has never missed one. We will miss him.”

The White House described the actor as “one of our greatest fantasists and humanists”.

“Jerry Lewis made us laugh for over half a century and his incredible charity work has touched the lives of millions of people,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee said in a statement. “Jerry lived the American dream – he really loved his country and his country loved him in return.”

Journalist Larry King, who has made countless interviews with celebrities, hailed Sunday a “master of comedy”, a “fabulous actor.”

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