Iconic comedian Jerry Lewis has died at age 91:
Jerry Lewis, the manic, rubber-faced showman who jumped and hollered to fame in a lucrative partnership with Dean Martin, settled down to become a self-conscious screen auteur and found an even greater following as the tireless, teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons, has died. He was 91.
Publicist Candi Cazau says Lewis died Sunday of natural causes in Las Vegas with his family by his side.
Lewis’ career spanned the history of show business in the 20th century, beginning in his parents’ vaudeville act at the age of 5. He was just 20 when his pairing with Martin made them international stars. He went on to make such favorites as “The Bellboy” and “The Nutty Professor,” was featured in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy” and appeared as himself in Billy Crystal’s “Mr. Saturday Night.”
A major influence on Carrey and other slapstick performers, Lewis also was known as the ringmaster of the Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Association, joking and reminiscing and introducing guests, sharing stories about ailing kids and concluding with his personal anthem, the ballad “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” From the 1960s onward, the telethons raised some $1.5 billion, including more than $60 million in 2009. He announced in 2011 that he would step down as host, but would remain chairman of the association he joined some 60 years ago.
Read the rest of the obit at Associated Press.
During American Idol’s heyday, alums regularly appeared on the MDA telethon. Idol stage manager, Debbie Williams, worked on the telethon in later years, and
Former American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe, who had co-hosted an MDA telethon tweeted:
I was a huge fan of Mr. Jerry Lewis and had the incredible honor of doing a Telethon with him. It was a high point in my life. RIP #TJITD.
— Nigel Lythgoe OBE (@dizzyfeet) August 20, 2017
Here’s a playlist of American Idol appearances on the MDA telethon, including performances from Carrie Underwood, Ace Young (the season 5 singer made several appearances, including as co-host), Jessica Sanchez (and Chris Mann from The Voice) David Archuleta and more.