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Classically Speaking:
Promoting Classic Movies in a Jaded World!

Monday, August 21, 2017


Jerry Lewis The first time I saw JERRY LEWIS (1926-2017), I was seven years old. Every Sunday morning, a comedy film aired on our small black and white set. I saw him first in the film Who's Minding the Store? and was hooked. Jerry was hilarious as this geeky, clumsy guy with the best of intentions and not a single evil bone in his body. Later, in junior high, my best friend Michelle told me she had a big crush on Jerry Lewis. He was her favorite actor. So, I called her Mrs. Jerry Lewis and since we couldn't both be married to him, I chose Bill Bixby of whom I also liked, becoming Mrs. Bill Bixby. At the time, I was watching Bill Bixby in his "Magician" TV series each week. Michelle and I watched the Jerry Lewis telethons without fail that Jerry held to raise money for muscular dystrophy. It was through those telethons that I learned more of his talents and became inspired to watch more of his films. Later on, he became my daughter's favorite.

Jerry is a wonderful actor, a great comedian, and a wonderful singer and dancer. In researching him for this showcase, I learned that he also wrote ten scripts in ten years, composed songs for three movies, produced, directed, and helped out with several films by staging musical numbers and singing songs.

Jerry Lewis was born in 1926 with the name of Joseph Levitch. His father had changed the family name to Lewis and Jerry took on that name as well. When Jerry worked with Dean Martin, the two of them were the world's top box-office earners from 1950-1956. Lewis, on his own, also ruled as #1 movie draw in 1957, 1959, and 1961 to 1964! He is truly an amazing talent.

The Geisha Boy (1958)Haven't you seen The Geisha Boy (1958)? Jerry plays a magician Gilbert Wooley, while working in Japan finds a little boy has attached himself to him and won't give him up the idea of making Mr. Wooley his "honorable father". Suzanne Pleshette also stars. It is my favorite Lewis film and it is most endearing. I like that one gets to see Jerry's talent for both comedy and drama.

Watch this and then see these other four films.

The Stooge (1953) Whenever I hear someone say that they don't like Jerry Lewis because he plays nothing but stupid dorks, I tell them to see this film. This is the best Martin and Lewis film. It shows a more dramatic side to Jerry Lewis's talent. He plays Theodore 'Ted' Rogers. It's an excellent film, showing us how it feels to play nothing but stupid dorks.
Who's Minding the Store? (1963) This is it, the one that started it all. This was my first film of Jerry Lewis's. It made me scan every TV Guide for when the next Jerry Lewis film would air. He plays Norman Phiffier in this film.
Rock-a-Bye Baby (1958) When VCRs first came out, I had to record this one.  I watched it again and again until the tape no longer had sound. I loved him as Clayton Poole who gets mixed up being a full-time or should I say an all-time babysitter to triplets. This film is both funny and charming.
Cinderfella (1960) I'm a sucker for any Cinderella story. I especially like this one, because it shows a man being the Cinderella for a change. It's very cute.

*Contributed by: "Elizabeth Van Cleve" Date: Sun, Jun 25, 2006 / 8:23:45 AM PST
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2009 Won Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award