Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Mr Smith Goes to Meet Jerry Lewis

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Mr Smith Goes to Meet Jerry Lewis

Article excerpt

They're very good, the flunkies and major-domos at the Dochester, but then, for [pounds sterling]2,500 a night, they ought to be. That's the money that Jerry Lewiis's suite was reportedly costing, and it may have been part of the package that a man in green morning dress held the door open and said, "Gentlemen, Mr Jerry Lewis" as the great man entered.

"Jerry Lewis looks a shock," I had been warned by Shawn Levy, who has written a book on the veteran Hollywood comedian. (Levy fell out with his subject to such an extent that to say he is non-authorised scarcely does the rift justice: he is Lewis's biographer non grata.) Sure enough, Lewis was swaddled in adipose tissue, a side effect of his medication. He looked like a man signalling from inside a Jerry Lewis dirigible in the Macy's parade.

Lewis's staff have replayed all his old films and TV specials--including the long-running franchise that paired him with Dean Martin in a matchlessly lucrative ham-and-rye combo; the (original) Nutty Professor, the moist eyed charity telethons--and worked out that their employer made 1,795 professional pratfalls. At 76, Lewis was feeling every one of them, except when he self-administered painkillers via a control panel resembling a TV remote. "If I press this, the level goes up, if I press this it goes down. It also open's my garage," he wisecracked stoically. Lewis's medical history is almost as prodigious as his showbiz bio, and includes walk-ons for characters out of a Hunter S Thompson hallucination, such as "head of pain at Vegas General. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.