Best Known For
Jerry Lewis rose to fame as Dean Martin's comedic partner. The two performed on stage before their film career began in 1949.
Jerry Lewis - Full Episode (90:36)
Don Knotts - Early Life (2:56)
Watch a short video about Jerry Lewis and find out how this multitalented entertainer catapulted to stardom.
A two-hour biography of Jerry Lewis.
Watch a short video about Dean Martin and learn how this crooner was part of one of the most popular duos and "packs" in show business history.
Actor and comedian Don Knotts faced many difficulties as a child growing up in West Virginia to ultimately become one of America's most beloved TV stars.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
In 1949, the pair landed their own regular radio comedy show, The Martin and Lewis Show, and after Paramount producer Hal Wallis saw them perform at the Copacabana nightclub in New York, he booked them both to a film contract. Martin and Lewis made their big-screen debut in the 1949 film My Friend Irma, earning rave reviews.
The New York Times wrote, "We could go along with the laughs which were fetched by a new mad comedian,
Jerry Lewis by name. This freakishly built and acting young man, who has been seen in nightclubs hereabouts with a collar-ad partner, Dean Martin, has a genuine comic quality. The swift eccentricity of his movements, the harrowing features of his face, and the squeak of his vocal protestations... have flair. His idiocy constitutes the burlesque of an idiot, which is something else again. He's the funniest thing in the picture."
Over the next decade, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis made 16 films together, including My Friend Irma Goes West (1950), The Stooge (1952) and Hollywood or Bust (1956). The pair also made frequent television appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show and the Colgate Comedy Hour. However, by the mid-1950s their partnership and friendship began to fray as Lewis received greater national attention and, as he admitted later, drove Martin away with his egotism and insensitivity. The two split ways, both professionally and personally, in 1956.
After his split with Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis went on to a successful solo career as both an actor and director. His first film without Martin, The Delicate Delinquent (1957), was a huge hit and immediately established Lewis as a star in his own right. In 1959, Lewis signed a new contract with Paramount that paid him $10 million up front and 60 percent of box office profits -- the most lucrative contract ever signed by a film star at that time. The contract also provided Lewis with greater control over his films, and he made his directorial debut with the 1960 comedy Bellboy.
He went on to direct and star in a number of highly successful films, such as The Nutty Professor (1963), Three on a Couch (1966) and The Day the Clown Cried (1972). As an actor, he also turned in an acclaimed performance in the 1982 Martin Scorsese film The King of Comedy, and fulfilled his lifelong dream of acting on Broadway as the star of the 1995 production of Damn Yankees.
Based on his extensive experience as an actor, director and producer, in 1967 Lewis began teaching graduate film courses at the University of Southern California. His lectures have been collected into a book, The Total Film-Maker (1971), which is considered a seminal text on filmmaking. Lewis also has an unusually fanatical following in Europe, and especially in France, where has won Best Director of the Year three times. When his film Hardly Working opened in Paris, the marquee of a cinema on the Champs Elysees read simply, "JERRY."
profile name: Jerry Lewis profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
Actors Turned Directors 56 people in this group
Honorary Oscar Recipients 81 people in this group
Originally called Toast of the Town, The Ed Sullivan Show ran from 1948-1971 on CBS and was an American staple in the 50s and 60s. The American variety show featured the Who's Who of celebritydom over the decades, including Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Tony Bennett, Carol Channing, Lucille Ball, The Jackson 5, and The Doors.
The Ed Sullivan Show Guests 215 people in this group