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."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Jerry Lewis on creative control on The Colgate Comedy Hour
Jerry Lewis on directing for film and television
Jerry Lewis on hosting the 1959 Academy Awards telecast which ran short
Jerry Lewis on naming the lead character of "The Nutty Professor"
Jerry Lewis on Dean Martin
Jerry Lewis on his outlook on life
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

Ben Casey

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

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"

Bold Ones, The

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

Colgate Comedy Hour, The

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Jerry Lewis on hosting The Colgate Comedy Hour with Dean Martin
Jerry Lewis on The Colgate Comedy Hour

Ed Sullivan Show, The aka Toast of the Town

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Jerry Lewis on appearing on Ed Sullivan's first show

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

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

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

Ford Startime

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

Ford Startime: "The Jazz Singer"

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

Garry Moore Show, The

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Jerry Lewis on performing with Carol Burnett on The Garry Moore Show

Jerry Lewis Show, The (1963)

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Jerry Lewis on his live show for ABC, The Jerry Lewis Show

Jerry Lewis Specials

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Jerry Lewis on his television specials

Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon

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Jerry Lewis on the MDA Telethon
Jerry Lewis on the genesis of and his work on the MDA Telethons

Person to Person

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Jerry Lewis on appearing on Person to Person

Saturday Night Live

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Jerry Lewis on Saturday Night Live

Texaco Star Theater

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Jerry Lewis on his appearance with Dean Martin on Texaco Star Theater

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

Wiseguy

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

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Jerry Lewis on creative control on The Colgate Comedy Hour

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Jerry Lewis on his father's influence on his career
Jerry Lewis on his father and grandmother

Fame and Celebrity

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Jerry Lewis on celebrity

Pivotal Career Moments

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Jerry Lewis on his father's influence on his career
Jerry Lewis on his father and grandmother

Technological Innovation

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Jerry Lewis on appearing on color TV tests in 1942 and meeting Albert Einstein in the process
Jerry Lewis on the creation of the video assist

Television Industry

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Jerry Lewis on creative control on The Colgate Comedy Hour
Jerry Lewis on celebrity
Professions

Comedian

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Jerry Lewis on his father's influence on his performances

Directors

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Jerry Lewis on directing for film and television
Genres

Awards Shows

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

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Jerry Lewis on The Colgate Comedy Hour
People

Danny Arnold

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Jerry Lewis on staff members of The Colgate Comedy Hour

Jack Benny

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Jerry Lewis on Jack Benny's performance on the MDA Telethons

Milton Berle

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Jerry Lewis on his appearance with Dean Martin on Texaco Star Theater
Jerry Lewis on hosting a telethon with Milton Berle

Peter Bogdanovich

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Jerry Lewis on performing in Broadway's "Damn Yankees"

Carol Burnett

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Jerry Lewis on performing with Carol Burnett on The Garry Moore Show

Harry Crane

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Jerry Lewis on staff members of The Colgate Comedy Hour

Sammy Davis, Jr.

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Jerry Lewis on Sammy Davis, Jr.

Albert Einstein

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

Bob Finkel

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Jerry Lewis on staff members of The Colgate Comedy Hour

Arthur Freed

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

Robert Goulet

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Jerry Lewis on Robert Goulet's performance on the MDA Telethons

Alfred Hitchcock

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Jerry Lewis on his awe of director Alfred Hitchcock

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"

Peter Lawford

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Jerry Lewis on Peter Lawford

Norman Lear

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Jerry Lewis on staff members of The Colgate Comedy Hour

Joseph L. Mankiewicz

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Jerry Lewis on studying director Joseph Mankiewicz 

E. G. Marshall

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

Dean Martin

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Jerry Lewis on meeting Dean Martin
Jerry Lewis on his first time "working" together with Dean Martin
Jerry Lewis on his films with Dean Martin
Jerry Lewis on hosting telethons with Dean Martin
Jerry Lewis on the genesis of and his work on the MDA Telethons
Jerry Lewis on a reunion with Dean Martin thanks to Frank Sinatra

Ed McMahon

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Jerry Lewis on Ed McMahon

Ethel Merman

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Jerry Lewis on Ethel Merman guest starring on The Colgate Comedy Hour

Robert De Niro

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

Arthur Penn

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Jerry Lewis on staff members of The Colgate Comedy Hour

David Sarnoff

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Jerry Lewis on David Sarnoff

Martin Scorsese

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

Tom Shales

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Jerry Lewis on Tom Shales' description of the MDA Telethon

Frank Sinatra

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Jerry Lewis on a reunion with Dean Martin thanks to Frank Sinatra
Jerry Lewis on Frank Sinatra

Red Skelton

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Jerry Lewis on Red Skelton

Ed Sullivan

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Jerry Lewis on appearing on Ed Sullivan's first show

Mel Tolkin

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Jerry Lewis on staff members of The Colgate Comedy Hour

Lew Wasserman

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Jerry Lewis on Lew Wasserman

Sylvester L. "Pat" Weaver

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

Bud Yorkin

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Jerry Lewis on staff members of The Colgate Comedy Hour

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