Jerry Lewis

Actor / Comedian


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his nearly two-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Jerry Lewis (1926-2017) describes his rise to stardom as a performer in the famed Borscht Belt and expresses how his father profoundly shaped his own philosophy on showmanship. Lewis recalls the formation of his legendary partnership with Dean Martin and comments on the remarkable chemistry the two shared. He details his work on early television, including Martin and Lewis' roles as rotating hosts of The Colgate Comedy Hour and discusses the pair's appearances on The Eddie Fisher Show and on Ed Sullivan's very first show. He speaks of his memorable gig as host of the 1959 Academy Awards, a broadcast that ran 20 minutes short, his television specials and animated series and of his work both in front of and behind the camera in over forty films, including favorites like "The Bellboy," "Cinderfella," and "The Nutty Professor." Lewis also discusses the break-up of his partnership with Dean Martin and tells the touching story of how he came to host his annual telethons for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Sam Denoff conducted the interview on October 27, 2000 in San Diego, CA.

"We were doing a 'Colgate Comedy Hour' every six weeks. We took most of what Martin and Lewis did physically and worked it into the television program. I was so nuts and I was out of the rules and I never hit the marks and I was going into the cameras. I knew the importance of physicality and we were good together on it. We knew when to pull back and when to feed one another and when to get up close. It was incredible."

Highlights
Jerry Lewis on creative control on The Colgate Comedy Hour
00:57
Jerry Lewis on directing for film and television
11:42
Jerry Lewis on hosting the 1959 Academy Awards telecast which ran short
01:57
Jerry Lewis on naming the lead character of "The Nutty Professor"
00:32
Jerry Lewis on Dean Martin
05:31
Jerry Lewis on his outlook on life
00:15
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences
On the Borscht Belt
On meeting Dean Martin

Chapter 2

On forming his partnership with Dean Martin
On clubs he played at with Dean Martin and on their movies
On his radio show with Dean Martin
On his exposure and involvement in early television - color TV tests, The Ed Sullivan Show, Texaco Star Theater, and The Colgate Comedy Hour

Chapter 3

On The Colgate Comedy Hour
On the rise and fall of Martin and Lewis; on their film career
On his television specials and television work
On hosting telethons with Dean Martin

Chapter 4

On hosting MDA telethons; on Jerry's Kids
On "Damn Yankees"
On directing films - "The Bell Boy," "Cinderfella," "The Nutty Professor"
On directing television - Ben Casey and The Bold Ones; on his animated series Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down
On his reception in France

Chapter 5

On his international popularity
On his television and film work - Saturday Night Live, Fight For Life, An Evening with Sammy Davis, Jr. & Jerry Lewis, "The King of Comedy"
On celebrity and his advice to aspiring performers; on how he'd like to be remembered
On people with whom he's worked
On family and values
Shows

Academy Awards, The

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Jerry Lewis on the infamous end of the April 6, 1959 Academy Awards telecast for which he was co-host
01:57

Ben Casey

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Jerry Lewis on directing an episode of Ben Casey, "A Little Bit of Fun to Match the Sorrow"
01:34

Ben Casey: "A Little Bit of Fun to Match the Sorrow"

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Jerry Lewis on directing an episode of Ben Casey, "A Little Bit of Fun to Match the Sorrow"
01:34

Bold Ones, The

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Jerry Lewis on directing and episode of The Bold Ones with E.G. Marshall
00:41

Colgate Comedy Hour, The

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Jerry Lewis on hosting The Colgate Comedy Hour with Dean Martin
06:53
Jerry Lewis on The Colgate Comedy Hour
05:59

Ed Sullivan Show, The aka Toast of the Town

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Jerry Lewis on appearing on Ed Sullivan's first show
00:34

Eddie Fisher Show, The

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Jerry Lewis on chatting with Dean Martin on The Eddie Fisher Show after they were no longer partners
00:25

Evening with Sammy Davis, Jr. & Jerry Lewis, An

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Jerry Lewis on his HBO Special with Sammy Davis, Jr.
00:45

Ford Startime

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Jerry Lewis on Ford Startime's "The Jazz Singer" for NBC
00:28

Ford Startime: "The Jazz Singer"

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Jerry Lewis on Ford Startime's "The Jazz Singer" for NBC
00:28

Garry Moore Show, The

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Jerry Lewis on performing with Carol Burnett on The Garry Moore Show
00:22

Jerry Lewis Show, The (1963)

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Jerry Lewis on his live show for ABC, The Jerry Lewis Show
01:23

Jerry Lewis Specials

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Jerry Lewis on his television specials
00:57

Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon

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Jerry Lewis on the MDA Telethon
01:27
Jerry Lewis on the genesis of and his work on the MDA Telethons
13:24

Person to Person

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Jerry Lewis on appearing on Person to Person
00:09

Saturday Night Live

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Jerry Lewis on Saturday Night Live
00:14

Texaco Star Theater

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Jerry Lewis on his appearance with Dean Martin on Texaco Star Theater
01:23

Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down

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Jerry Lewis on the animated series Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down
00:55

Wiseguy

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Jerry Lewis on the 5 episodes of Wiseguy he did for CBS
00:23
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Jerry Lewis on creative control on The Colgate Comedy Hour
00:57

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Jerry Lewis on his father's influence on his career
01:35
Jerry Lewis on his father and grandmother
02:29

Fame and Celebrity

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Jerry Lewis on celebrity
03:47

Pivotal Career Moments

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Jerry Lewis on his father's influence on his career
01:35
Jerry Lewis on his father and grandmother
02:29

Technological Innovation

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Jerry Lewis on appearing on color TV tests in 1942 and meeting Albert Einstein in the process
01:56
Jerry Lewis on the creation of the video assist
02:07

Television Industry

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Jerry Lewis on creative control on The Colgate Comedy Hour
00:57
Jerry Lewis on celebrity
03:47
Professions

Comedian

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Jerry Lewis on his father's influence on his performances
01:35

Directors

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Jerry Lewis on directing for film and television
11:42
Genres

Awards Shows

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Jerry Lewis on hosting the 1959 Academy Awards telecast which ran short
01:57

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Jerry Lewis on The Colgate Comedy Hour
06:53
People

Danny Arnold

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Jerry Lewis on staff members of The Colgate Comedy Hour
01:09

Jack Benny

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Jerry Lewis on Jack Benny's performance on the MDA Telethons
00:51

Milton Berle

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Jerry Lewis on his appearance with Dean Martin on Texaco Star Theater
01:23
Jerry Lewis on hosting a telethon with Milton Berle
00:25

Peter Bogdanovich

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Jerry Lewis on performing in Broadway's "Damn Yankees"
01:21

Carol Burnett

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Jerry Lewis on performing with Carol Burnett on The Garry Moore Show
00:22

Harry Crane

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Jerry Lewis on staff members of The Colgate Comedy Hour
01:09

Sammy Davis, Jr.

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Jerry Lewis on Sammy Davis, Jr.
00:08

Albert Einstein

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Jerry Lewis on appearing on color TV tests in 1942 and meeting Albert Einstein in the process
01:56

Bob Finkel

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Jerry Lewis on staff members of The Colgate Comedy Hour
01:09

Arthur Freed

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Jerry Lewis on hosting the 1959 Academy Awards telecast, produced by Arthur Freed, which ran short
02:57

Robert Goulet

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Jerry Lewis on Robert Goulet's performance on the MDA Telethons
00:15

Alfred Hitchcock

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Jerry Lewis on his awe of director Alfred Hitchcock
00:20

Cy Howard

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Jerry Lewis on his films with Dean Martin and restructuring a film role with writer Cy Howard, and on the film "My Friend Irma"
03:25

Peter Lawford

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Jerry Lewis on Peter Lawford
00:15

Norman Lear

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Jerry Lewis on staff members of The Colgate Comedy Hour
01:09

Joseph L. Mankiewicz

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Jerry Lewis on studying director Joseph Mankiewicz 
01:33

E. G. Marshall

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Jerry Lewis on directing and episode of The Bold Ones with E.G. Marshall
00:43

Dean Martin

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Jerry Lewis on meeting Dean Martin
05:12
Jerry Lewis on his first time "working" together with Dean Martin
11:02
Jerry Lewis on his films with Dean Martin
07:54
Jerry Lewis on hosting telethons with Dean Martin
01:27
Jerry Lewis on the genesis of and his work on the MDA Telethons
00:44
Jerry Lewis on a reunion with Dean Martin thanks to Frank Sinatra
00:57

Ed McMahon

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Jerry Lewis on Ed McMahon
00:28

Ethel Merman

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Jerry Lewis on Ethel Merman guest starring on The Colgate Comedy Hour
00:39

Robert De Niro

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Jerry Lewis on the film "The King of Comedy" with Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro
01:42

Arthur Penn

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Jerry Lewis on staff members of The Colgate Comedy Hour
01:09

David Sarnoff

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Jerry Lewis on David Sarnoff
00:23

Martin Scorsese

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Jerry Lewis on the film "The King of Comedy" with Martin Scorsese
01:42

Tom Shales

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Jerry Lewis on Tom Shales' description of the MDA Telethon
00:29

Frank Sinatra

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Jerry Lewis on a reunion with Dean Martin thanks to Frank Sinatra
00:57
Jerry Lewis on Frank Sinatra
00:08

Red Skelton

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Jerry Lewis on Red Skelton
00:05

Ed Sullivan

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Jerry Lewis on appearing on Ed Sullivan's first show
00:34

Mel Tolkin

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Jerry Lewis on staff members of The Colgate Comedy Hour
01:09

Lew Wasserman

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Jerry Lewis on Lew Wasserman
00:13

Sylvester L. Weaver

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Jerry Lewis on Pat Weaver's suggestion for The Colgate Comedy Hour
01:39

Bud Yorkin

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Jerry Lewis on staff members of The Colgate Comedy Hour
01:09

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