The Serious Jerry

Let’s get serious about Jerry Lewis, the over-the-top comic actor and director, who died yesterday at age 91.

For 44 years, Lewis mostly showed his serious side as the host of TV’s annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon. Here’s the end of his final telethon, from 2010:

Perhaps Lewis’ most famous serious film role came in Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy (1982). You can stream it for $2.99 from several sites:

Lewis’s first serious role came on TV in a 1959 NBC version of The Jazz Singer. Here’s the full show:

Then, in 1965, Lewis wrote, directed and starred in this episode of the ABC medical drama Ben Casey:

In 1972, Lewis made The Day the Clown Cried, about a circus clown caught up in the holocaust. The movie was never released, but we do have this half-hour BBC documentary:

Fifteen years later, Lewis starred in the 1987 ABC movie Fight for Life, playing an optometrist whose daughter has epilepsy. Here’s the complete film:

The following year, Lewis had a recurring role in the CBS crime series Wiseguy and then, in 2013, starred as Max Rose, which Netflix subscribers can watch right now.

Bonus: In 1963’s Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde takeoff The Nutty Professor, Lewis plays his hipster side Buddy Love fairly straight, though perhaps a bit too much like his former partner Dean Martin:




About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

View All Articles

Leave a Comment