US comedy icon Jerry Lewis dies at 91

Tributes pour in as famed American comedian passes away of natural causes at his home in Las Vegas.

    Veteran American entertainer Jerry Lewis, whose goofy brand of physical comedy won him international acclaim over a career spanning five decades, has died aged 91. 

    "Famed comedian, actor and legendary entertainer Jerry Lewis passed away peacefully today of natural causes at 91 at his home in Las Vegas with his family by his side," a statement from the Lewis family said on Sunday.

    One of the most popular comic actors of the 1950s and 1960s, Lewis perfected the role of the quirky clown in slapstick comedies like "The Nutty Professor" but also won acclaim as a writer, actor and philanthropist.

    READ MORE: Dick Gregory, civil rights activist and comedian, dies

    Honoured with accolades at home and abroad, including a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977, Lewis became known as much for his tireless efforts to promote awareness of muscular dystrophy as for his unique brand of physical comedy.

    Over the course of 45 years, he raised some $2.45bn for combatting the disease with an annual television event. 

    He once summed up his career by saying, "I've had great success being a total idiot" and said the key was maintaining a certain child-like quality.

     Lewis raised some $2.45bn for combatting muscular dystrophy [Jane Kalinowsky/AP] 

    "I look at the world through a child's eyes because I'm nine," he told Reuters news agency in a November 2002 interview. "I stayed that way. I made a career out of it. It's a wonderful place to be."

    Lewis was 87 when his last movie, "Max Rose", came out in 2013, playing a jazz pianist who questions his marriage after learning his wife of 65 years may have been unfaithful.

    Other notable films in Lewis' repertoire include "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (1959), "The Geisha Boy" (1958) and "Funnybones" (1984).

    He starred in more than 45 films over the course of his career. 

    'One of a kind'

    Actors, directors and prominent arts figures took to social media to pay tribute to the comic legend.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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