"Americans had never seen a grown man behave this way before," notes Shawn Levy. From Lewis' upbringing as the son of a struggling show biz dad, to his heyday as one half of the Lewis and Martin team that was the hottest act in the business, to his career as the host of charity telethons, Levy presents Lewis in all his comic glory and horror. There's his inspired work with Dean Martin at Atlantic City's 500 Club in 1946; the "Jewish Bataan death march" promotional tour for the movie "The Nutty Professor"; and, later, Lewis, star of movies for kids, who mistreated his family.
From Publishers Weekly
Levy interviewed comedian Jerry Lewis extensively for this penetrating unauthorized biography, probably the fullest, most revealing portrait to date of the elusive star. Dumped by his parents, both small-time burlesque/vaudeville performers, and raised by his maternal grandmother, high-school dropout Lewis, born in 1926, eventually followed his parents onto the stage. Beneath the manic, zany persona, Oregonian film critic Levy finds an anxiety-ridden, lonely man with a shaky self-image, a psychologically abusive husband and distant, disciplinarian father, driven by a constant need to prove himself to the parents who ignored him; to partner Dean Martin, who deserted him; to the world that had jeered at him when he was a kid. Philanthropist and host of telethons against muscular dystrophy, Lewis in 1965 suffered a spinal injury causing persistent pain that led to drug addiction and a suicide attempt. Levy persuasively shows how Lewis, one of the last Borscht Belt comedians and burlesque performers, always brought traces of those bygone forms to his movies and stand-up acts. Photos.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.