Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A memorable evening with Mr. Jerry Lewis

This is a long post, but I promise, it's worth it.

Tonight, Wednesday, Nov. 16, my friend Bob (the genius behind this blog) and I drove into downtown Chicago for an evening with none other than Mr. Jerry Lewis. Since he'd be signing and discussing his new book, DEAN & ME: A LOVE STORY*, I figured this might be my one chance to actually meet the celebrity who fascinates me more than any other. I also hoped that, despite warnings he'd only sign the new book, I might get his autograph in my cherished copy of his earlier volume, THE TOTAL FILMMAKER.

Well, I didn't. I didn't even get to meet Jerry, and the only autograph I got was on a "pre-autographed" copy of DEAN & ME. No face time, either. All that was scheduled was a brief talk, followed by some questions and answers. And, believe it or not, that didn't even happen. In fact, the whole program was over within a half-hour.

And yet, it was a truly unforgettable night.

I took a digital camera to Wednesday's event, but the lighting was too dark for any decent photos of Jerry. So, instead, I'm leading off with this image one from my favorite Jerry Lewis movie, THE LADIES MAN.

But let me start from the beginning: We arrived at the Harold Washington Library at about 6:45, and there was already a long line to get in. I exchanged the copy of DEAN & ME my wife bought me (Thanks, Amy!) for a pre-signed one, and Bob and I took our seats. The auditorium was crowded. Probably about 500 people, with few empty seats and several audience members in wheelchairs in the front row. At a bit after 7, after a brief intro, Jerry took the stage, looking hale and hearty. He made a few comments about his dad, told some ancient jokes, extolled the health benefits of laughter (though I'd like to see the medical report that he cited, claiming one good laugh a day adds 10 years to your life) and bragged about how he makes fart sounds in elevators. He also said that, despite being almost 80, he considers himself to be nine years old because "nine is innocent; nine is human; nine is vulnerable; nine is loving and caring and unclear and hoping and very wishful. Nine! Why would you want to leave that?"

In other words, a typical evening with Jerry. Old jokes and anecdotes, but told well and with warmth and affection. The audience was clearly there to genuflect at the altar of the Jer, and there was plenty of laughter throughout his opening comments. And then...

In the middle of discussing how unappreciated Dean was, how New York Times critic Bosley Crowther ignored him in reviews (in favor of Jerry, of course) and how overseas billboard didn't even picture Dean, one of the guys in a wheelchair in the front row started reading a statement related to the MDA Telethon and Jerry Lewis' "outdated attitudes." The audience wasn't sure what was going on at first, and neither was Jerry. "What is that?," he said "Hello?" Not realizing it was a guy speaking in a monotone voice, he said "I've never been upstaged by some recording! Where is that coming from?"

Then another woman in a different part of the auditorium began reading a statement, also criticizing the MDA Telethon. (It was hard to make out exactly what they were saying from where I was seated.) Confusion reigned, the crowd began to boo. "Find out where that radio is coming from," Jerry ordered, still thinking it was a recording. Chants of "We love you, Jerry" and scattered applause echoed throughout the room in support of Lewis, but the protestors continued.

Jerry Lewis (onstage) directs the security crew and at least one cop (does he have the authority to do that?) to take care of the hecklers in the front row. Sorry for the crappy quality of this photo -- and for that guy's stupid head right in the middle of the picture.

At this point, security guards and at least one Chicago cop arrived. "Let's find out where the recording is coming from," Jerry said, then addressed the crowd: "Ladies and gentlemen, I think you're entitled to know what's happening here." "Jerry, they're reading" one helpful audience member explained, to which Jerry replied "I know they're reading, I know that." And then, the mood darkened considerably.

"Fellas? Jeff? Dennis? Officer? Get them out of here! Now!," Jerry commanded as the crowd applauded. "The wheelchair is bullshit. Get 'em out of here." More applause. "Start moving 'em out, otherwise 500 people lose a night, and I say goodbye, and that would be bad." Grumbling in the crowd, then this from Jerry: "They're getting what they want folks, this was their...they meant to disrupt this, and they're doing it." More protestors were speaking up, so Jerry addressed the security guards and cop: "And we got a couple here that aren't too helpful, and that wheelchair as well. Dennis, help the lady up."

Then, Jerry turned his attention back to the crowd: "All right, let me try to get through to the regular people." Applause. "For all of the 54 years that I've raised over $2 billion for children that needed it" -- applause, cheers -- "only in Chicago does this happen." He referred to the protestors "sitting in the chairs that I provided, but they want me to stop the telethon because I make them look pitiful. What is more pitiful than this?" he asked angrily, while another woman -- this one not in a wheelchair, and sitting near Bob and I -- began yelling something that I'm sure was along the lines of "keep your pity," but sounded, I swear, like "Where's Tom Petty?" By now, Jerry had clearly reached the limit of his temper.

"All right, we got two more schmucks over here, honey," he said to a library worker. "It's very difficult to be compassionate and to talk about people that are, are mentally and physically crippled." He then turned his attention back to crowd control, telling the cop "Officer? You got a couple of beauties right here." He reassured the crowd "They will not stop what I do," then told the guards and cop "You don't have to be polite. They will get outside and get in their cars. Understand what they're doing -- there may be one invalid in the bunch of them. The others get out of their chairs and drive home. They've been doing this for 20 years -- they're called 'Jerry's orphans' -- that's what they call themselves, and they're trying to get me to stop doing my telethon for the reasons that I do it."

"Now I'll tell you the worst part of this," he continued. "The worst part of this is that they do --oh yeah, we'll get her out of here, definitely" -- referring to the woman chanting "Where's Tom Petty" near us -- "move that living waterbed out of here" -- referring to someone in the front row, though I have no idea what he means by "living waterbed". He said something about "how your compassion can turn that quickly when it's dealing with people who don't care about those that you're helping. I cannot in any way, matter or form help these people -- they're beyond help."

And finally: "It's like hitting a little kid with a stick, that's what it's like. But they are mosquitoes on an elephant, and we have to do the best we can. Understand that the human condition is such that no matter how wrong they may be, we're still watching a man damning them, and that's a turn-off. It's a turn-off to this audience; it's a turn-off to me, and they made their point. But I want you to know this: When I leave here, I'm going to have 500 people who not only were disappointed, but who will speak for me in the future to avoid this happening again. Good night and God bless you."

Jerry walked off the stage, the crowd cheered ... and that was it.

Even the crowding chanting "We want Jerry" couldn't coax him back out. The poor library employee who introduced him had to tell us he wasn't coming back, and the crowd began to sadly file out. One very angry Jerry fan screamed in the face of the woman who had been chanting "Where's Tom Petty" (or whatever the hell she was saying), yelling that Jerry had done so much for this country that she had no right to do what she did. But the night was over, Jerry had left the stage, and so Bob and I headed out into the cold Chicago night.

We'd driven two hours to get there, paid nine bucks for parking, a few more bucks for a cab and now the evening was over. But neither Bob nor I was disappointed. In fact, we knew this was much better than the evening going as planned. I'm not sure where I stand on the issue of Jerry's MDA telethons** (on the one hand, he has raised a lot of money. On the other hand, the people I saw in wheelchairs did not look like they were faking it, and faced some considerable opposition in making their protest, as ill-timed as it might be), but I know that, instead of an evening of well-polished anecdotes and well-worn jokes (as entertaining as that would be) I instead saw a true showbiz legend -- one of the last true showbiz legends, in fact -- have an unrehearsed, truly spontaneous encounter with someone.

How often, really, does that happen?

* The book, by the way, is very entertaining. Jerry tells some great stories of he and Dean on the rise and on top of the world, and even with a collaborator (James Kaplan), Jerry's strong personality comes through on every page. The last few chapters, which cover the post-breakup years, are the strongest in the book. Jerry's heartbreak over the split is palpable, and his love for his partner during Dean's years of decline is truly touching. By all means, get a copy if you haven't already.

** The group Jerry's Orphans has protested the MDA telethon for years. I couldn't find a Web site, but here's an article about them. On the other hand, if you want information about the MDA or you want to make a donation, go here.

All the quotes, by the way, are verbatim via my brand-new iTalk iPod recording attachment, which worked very well in this, its initial job. If I can figure a way to post the sound file, I will. Meanwhile, pick up your own iTalk here.

58 comments:

Phillip said...

Wow! Great on-the-spot reporting! If your account and Mark Evanier's are any indication, Jerry's book tour has been a bit of a strange affair. Weird.

Dan said...

Yikes. I have heard stories about Jerry, featuring a lot of people with MDA not liking him. The Tom Petty stuff mostly. ;)

Also used to listen to Harry Shearer (LeShow) tell some really weird Jerry stories when Jerry does the telethon each year.

I do think maybe they should get another MDA spokesperson. But regardless of my ill-informed opinion, interesting story about his temper.

Good night and God bless!

Dan said...

Oops that should read "people with with muscular dystrophy", not "people with MDA".

Sorry about that.

jennie said...

i was disappointed that i didn't see a pic of you with "the jer."

but the night was priceless, as you put it.

p.s. i almost died laughing when you mentioned his fart sounds in the elevator.

East Side said...

My wife was kind enough to take me to "Damn Yankees" on Browadway when Jerry starred about eight years ago. He was great. I agree with you -- he's the most fascinating celebrity of our time. Jerry fought for Stan Laurel to receive a special Oscar in the early '60s. Why aren't guys like Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey doing the same for Jerry?

Will Pfeifer said...

Jerry does deserve a special Oscar -- if not for his directing and acting (though a case can be made for that, too) then for his technical developments, like the video assist, which virtually every director has used for the last 30 years.

Anonymous said...

What a great post! And God bless you and your iPod for setting the record straight.

Anonymous said...

I've heard other stories about Jerry being a real bastard to everyone. I have no real idea as I never met the man. Although I find his rider requirements amusing.

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/backstagetour/lewis/lewis1.html

john siuntres said...

outstanding post Will!

Jerry Lewis continues to entertain, more unintentionally these days.

www.wordballoon.com

Pith North said...

http://audioblogger.com/ allows you to post in audio format. Would love to hear what you have recorded.

JerrysOrphans1 said...

For more info about Jerry's Orphans, go to http://www.thekidsareallright.org/
Jerry Lewis' attitudes about people with disabilities are truly offensive. If you want to support people with disabilities, don't support the MDA Telethon!

Anonymous said...

"JerrysOrphans1" - yeah, attempting to alleviate their problems and ensure that nobody else has to live like them is so frickin offensive. Go find Tom Petty.

JerrysOrphans1 said...

For the record, we were chanting "Piss On Pity!"
Living with a disability isn't my problem. Dealing with people who assume that having a disability is inherently negative is. You can raise money to support people with disabilities without resorting to perpetuating negative stereotypes & images about those of us with disabilities.

jerrysOrphans1 said...

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT is a half-hour documentary about a renegade Jerry's Kid named Mike Ervin. A Muscular Dystrophy Association poster child in the 1960s, today Mike is an outspoken disability rights activist who challenges the MDA's representation of people with disabilities in its Labor Day telethon through his activist group, Jerry's Orphans.

Background

Charities have used poster children to raise money since the 1930s because it works. People see a child with leg braces and crutches; they feel sorry and drop a coin in the jar or call in the pledge. But once the fundraising drive is over, that image of the poor little poster child lingers. The general public absorbs the idea that people with muscular dystrophy, or polio--really all people with disabilities--are pitiable victims who want and need nothing more than a big charity to take care of or cure them. Mike calls this the charity mentality.

While the Jerry Lewis telethon may seem like a quaint relic to younger viewers, the reality is that both the charity mentality and the MDA's use of the pity approach to raise money seriously undermine the disability civil rights movement. The telethon routinely implies that the source of the problems people with disabilities face is their medical conditions and the answer to their problems is curing them. Millions of viewers tune in every year and come away with the idea that people with disabilities need pity and charity rather than accessible public transportation and housing, employment opportunities and other civil rights that a democratic society should ensure for all its citizens.

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT documents the history of Jerry's Orphans and three consecutive years of their local Chicago Telethon protests. The film contrasts outdated attitudes with a view into the real lives of people with disabilities today. The goal of THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT is to raise consciousness about the subtle effects of pity, to empower people with disabilities to advocate for their own rights, and to inspire activism.

Jerry's Orphans vs. the MDA telethon

Mike was inspired to found Jerry's Orphans, along with his sister Cris and wife Anna, after he came upon an article written by Jerry Lewis for the Labor Day 1990 edition of Parade Magazine. Every year, Parade gives its Labor Day weekend cover to MDA and the telethon. This particular year, Jerry Lewis took it upon himself to write his own "first person account" of what it is like to be a person with Muscular Dystrophy, entitled If I Had Muscular Dystrophy. He said, "I decided after 41 years of battling this curse that cripples children of all ages, that I would put myself into that chair, that steel imprisonment that has long been deemed the dsytrophic child's plight."

From there Lewis goes on to reveal his inner monologue: I know the courage it takes to get on the court with other cripples and play wheelchair basketball. I'd like to play basketball like normal, healthy, vital, energetic people. I just can't half-do anything. Either it's all the way or forget it. When I sit back and think a little more rationally, I realize my life is half, so I must learn to do things halfway. I just have to learn to try to be good at being half a person. I may be a full human being in my heart and soul, yet I am still half a person.

Mike couldn't believe what he was reading - half a person?? He immediately took the article home and showed it to his wife Anna and sister Cris, and they all decided it was time to do something. As former poster children for the MDA in Chicago, Cris and Mike felt that a protest would be particularly interesting coming from them - they were no longer Jerry's Kids but Jerry's Orphans. So they started staging protests in Chicago in 1991.

Other Jerry's Orphans sprouted up around the country and almost instantly there was a nationwide network of grassroots groups protesting the telethon. People organized protests against the "pity fest," as one activist called it, in New York, Charleston, Denver, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. There was also an explosion of media attention, with articles about Jerry's Orphans in everything from Vanity Fair to the National Enquirer.

Sharon said...

Everyone got to see the Jerry Lewis that disabled people have been complaining about. What we saw was a mean-spirited jerk mocking and belittling disabled protesters and inciting an angry mob mentality against them. Lewis left no doubt in my mind as to how he really feels about people with disabilities. Both Lewis and many fans who cheered him on at the Chicago event have shown the public the ugliness of the ableism behind Lewis' pity-laden approaches to charity.

Anton said...

I don't believe Jerry Lewis would go to such lengths to raise money for research if he truly had a disdainful attitude for the disabled. I think his intent is one out of goodness and caring, despite perhaps a lack of personal insight into actually living as a disabled person. I agree that more could be done to ensure more accessability for those that still have the ability to remain independent (ramps, parking, etc.), but money also needs to be raised so that future generations won't needlessly remain at a disadvantage, and nothing brings in donors like pity. Lewis isn't the only one working that angle; go watch one of those Christian giving charities commercials that sometimes air about children in third world countries without clean drinking water or education. Sometimes people need a little pity to empathize with others.

Amber said...

It's true that Jerry's Orphans have been protesting Jerry Lewis' MDA Telethon for YEARS. After all that time, do you really think that if Jerry's Orphans sent a nice little letter asking to meet with Jerry that Jerry would say, "Oh, okay!" and meet with them? No way. After 15 years of protesting, Jerry's Orphans are angry as hell at Jerry's abuse of people with disabilities. That's what you got to see on Wednesday night.

I cannot believe that people are so fascinated with the Jerry "legend" that they would overlook the fact that the real Jerry Lewis is a pretender, a jackass, and a person who manipulates other people to make himself look good. You've heard the rumors...they are the truth. I would not want Jerry Lewis speaking for me or any other person I care for.

Robbo said...

I also attended the event and recorded it to my iPod. My recording is available at the link on my name.

If you listen for yourself, I think you'll hear that Mr. Lewis was ambushed by a bunch of rude cowards.The event was not about MDA, but his show business career and relationship with Dean Martin. There was to be an open question period afterward. Why couldn't the ADAPT/Orphans have waited until then to confront Mr. Lewis?

If the Orphans think they are going to advance their cause by disrupting an event attended by 400+ fans, they are seriously mistaken.

Anonymous said...

You guys are making a mountain out of a molehill. So what if he said they are half a person. He did say the have the heart and brains of a whole person. I hate to break it to you, but it is true - physically. I used to play football with a MS kid in our neighborhood growing up. He would play just as hard as the rest of us, but he would run as fast as I could walk. It is a fact of life. We wouldn't pity him or treat him different. He was taller than the rest of us, so he could catch those high passes, even though he could not jump at all. He was tougher than most of us also, because he had to be. I guess you want Jerry Lewis to be a little more Politically Correct? I can't believe you attack him just because he doesn't do it the way YOU think is the right way. Get a life. I bet you would bite someones head off if they opened the door for you wouldn't you? You would yell "I don't need your pity!", when all they would be doing was helping someone in need. It was something that many of us are taught to do. I even open the door or hold it for a 20 year old guy in perfect health because it is the polite thing to do.

Boo said...

It's sad that those poor unfortunate persons with diabilities hate the man who tries to help them. True, he's made mistakes. True, he can be an ass at times. True, he's the only person in the world who is NOT perfect. lol It must be hard to be spiritually disabled and bitter on top of being physically disabled. I have a wheelchair-bound son-in-law. He hasn't let his disability turn him into a hateful ingrate. I pity you poor souls. I shall continue to support MDA and Mr. Lewis, whether you like it or not, because for every one of you, there are thousands who appreciate the efforts of MDA and of Mr. Lewis. Pax Vobiscum. I truly hope you find peace one day. Until then, I pity you.

Anonymous said...

Well, the way I see it is, you can have a most americans not give a shit about people with MD, or you can have a large portion pity people with MD. But you're not going to get the majority of Americans to care in an informed and respectful fashion. Period. Get used to it. MD in it's various forms affects, what, a million americans? When you put it in the context that some 35.9 million Americans live below the poverty line which, having grown up in that circumstance I know first-hand, is a miserable and (for many) life-condemning experience, it's hard to give a fuck about the feelings of a subset of disabled people and how they feel about Jerry Lewis's pity for them. Call it ableism, I call it statistics.

BrENDa said...

Funny stuff. I'm sure you found the night a lot more amusing than you would've without the idiots. I love that you just *happened* to have an iTalk with you to record the commentary. Priceless.

Will Pfeifer said...

Oh, I brought the iPod along hoping to record something interesting (hell, I bought the mic on the way to Chicago). But I never thought I'd get anything like that!

Nathan said...

Jerry Lewis' attitude toward the disabled has always been outdated and idiotic. to actually use the term "cripples" and half a person" in this day and age? At the very least, he should be replaced as host of the telethon.

Alan Plessinger said...

I can see both sides of this. On the one hand, it can't possibly be a bad thing to raise money to combat MD. On the other, the purpose of the telethon is not to insult anyone. Jerry Lewis is Jerry Lewis, and no one is going to tell him what to do or how to do it. It's not news that Jerry Lewis is a bitter asshole. But if he were a reasonable person and not Jerry Lewis, he would meet with these people and get it clear: you can say this, you can't say that, you can show this, you can't show that. At that point, if nothing would appease the Orphans short of cancelling the telethon, at that point you can say, "Screw you guys." But you don't go right to "Screw you guys." You have to work your way up to "Screw you guys."

Anonymous said...

I live for these kinds of uncomfortable situations. This must have been quite a trainwreck to behold.

Justin
http://www.low-quality.net

Rogers said...

Until then, I pity you.

Where's Tom Petty?

Anonymous said...

These protesters should be ashamed of themselves! While some of Jerry's comments could certainly be construed as insensitive, at least he tries to help people. And I don't mean he helps people with M.D., I mean gets out and contributes in some way to trying to make life better for ANY of his fellow human beings. So many people today do NOTHING charitable, NOTHING to help ANYONE. However misguided or naive his attempts to put himself in the place of someone with M.D., he HAS spent over 40 years working to help people. I'm not a Jerry fan, nor do I have any hero-worship for him because of the work he's done. Rather, I have contempt for the many celebrities and wealthy people who are too selfish and self-absorbed to use their fame for the good of someone else.
And on a side note, if you don't want pity, don't be in a wheelchair. I will always pity people who cannot run and jump like I can, who can't play frisbee or hike or ride a motorcycle like I can. I'm sorry if this compassion is truly a character flaw of mine, but I will always feel pity for those I perceive as having less than me, whether they are crippled, poor, or just mentally incompetent. This compassion and sympathy is what drives people to do things like, I dunno, make transportation wheelchair accessible and work to unsure that the disabled have the same employment opportunities as the rest of us.
Perhaps we should just drop that pity and say "Screw you, you'll just have to figure out a way to get that wheelchair up the stairs. It's your problem, not mine."
If you keep pushing people away because you can't agree with everything they say or how they do things, don't be surprised when people stop working to raise more than $100,000,000 a YEAR to help people in your situation.
But rest assured, the people who would fight Jerry Lewis because they don't like they WAY he works to raise so much money for a charity get no pity from me. They deserve only my disgust.

Anonymous said...

If Jerry's Orphans do not support the MDA, they simply do not have to contribute finacially or volunteer their time for MDA. They cannot, however, speak on behalf of everyone with Muscular Dystrophy in the United States, some of whom appreciate the efforts of Jerry Lewis and the MDA telethon. The danger inherent in a group like Jerry's Orphans is that they assume they represent the feelings of every person affected by the disease.

Boo said...

I just read these posts again and saw that Jerry's Orphans were yelling, "Piss on pity!" My goodness, that crude word certainly made me have more respect for them. lol

Anonymous said...

If Jerry's Orphans don't think they have a disability, then they surely won't be claiming the special protections of the Americans With Disabilities Act, will they? After all, they're not disabled, they're just differently abled. So I would think they'd resent the accomodations the rest of us have to make for them.

The way I see it, a human being is designed to have functioning eyes, ears and limbs. Any deviation from that is a disability. It doesn't make you less of a person, but it does make you disabled. Sorry you don't like the hand fate dealt you, but you can't make it go away by trying to slap a Politically Correct label on it.

Anonymous said...

It is like going to a country western concert thrown to support MDA. I could stand there and protest that I would rather hear good old 'rock & roll' instead because I don't like country western. But the person that is throwing the concert is a country western type of person and nothing I could do would make him change his mind. Jerry Lewis has his way of thinking - it may not be the same as 'all' MDA beneficiaries, but just because one has different tastes, doesn't make your way the correct way. If most people thought it was, then I bet his Telethon wouldn't make any money. How much did he make this last year?

Don't you think that both sides could be right? Why do the protesters have to have the "my way or the highway" attitude. If they are so upset about the telethon, then throw their own. Nothing like a good ol American competition to spice it up a bit.

Anonymous said...

It's truly pathetic that the hatemongers have to spoil an evening dedicated to the great careers of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Jerry's Orphans? They should be called Jerry's STALKERS!!!!!

Webster's dictionary defines "stalking" as

1. To move threateningly or menacingly.
2. To follow or observe (a person) persistently, especially out of obsession or derangement.


These hatemongers sure fit the latter category, in that they're all deranged and bitter.

Anonymous said...

I'm a long-time fan of Jerry Lewis the actor and director. I've lived in Las Vegas for over 40 years and have met Jerry many times. I first met him in 1967, after spending a day collecting money door-to-door for the MDA telethon, with my 2 sisters. Our parents drove us to the telethon where we waited in a long line to stand before the TV cameras and hand over the collected cash, then shook hands with Jerry and Ed McMahon. The next 2 years we repeated the same routine, shaking hands and saying hello to Jerry. Then in 1976 I entered a 36-hour dance marathon for MDA. Jerry showed up with a TV crew and spent an hour taping for the telethon. I repeated that routine the following 2 years, with Jerry returning once again. Then in 1984 I was working as a delivery/driver for a local florist and got a real surprise. I was to deliver flowers from Dr. Michael DeBakey, following Jerry's bypass surgery. I have since worked in radio and television over the last 30 years, and met Jerry on another 3 separate occasions at local TV stations. I must say that he really seemed to mellow out after his bypass surgery, but prior to that, he was a real jerk. At the MDA telethons and the dance marathons, he was always yelling at his crew and threatening to fire someone. "You want to continue working in this business? Get your ass moving, or you'll be looking for another job." He would cuss and swear in front of children and his audience, generally acting like an ass-hole almost every time I've ever seen him. From all accounts, the Jerry Lewis at this recent show was the "real" Jerry, at least that's how he acts on the job. Maybe the chronic back pain and the addiction to darvon and percocet were partly responsible, but it's left me with an indelibly scarred impression of a man that I wouldn't want to know personally. Lastly, his "entourage”, the group of friends and bodyguards that travel with him, look and sound like a gang of mafia thugs, people you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. This was the one element that really left me with a bad impression above all else. As much as I’m still a fan of Jerry Lewis’ film work, it’s left me with mixed emotions about the man himself. A talented star I’ve admired for so long, but I now wish that I had not been close enough to see the true nature of the man behind the mask.

Anonymous said...

P.S. (it's me again)
If you want to see the "real" Jerry Lewis, watch him in The Nutty Professor. His Buddy Love character was not much of a stretch. That's pretty much how he behaved, up 'till his bypass surgery. Like I said he really mellowed out and made some lifestyle changes, looking healthier than I've ever seen him ‘till this recent problem, which left him bloated. He's not really a bad guy, but I think his ego got away from him when he started directing. I will say he's a surprisingly good director and I still get a kick out of his films from the 50's thru the mid 60's. I would love to see "Way, Way Out" re-mastered widescreen on dvd. I wish Jerry well and hope he's able to fully recover from his recent health problems.

Anonymous said...

Way Way Out is playing on FMC Fox Movie Channel Friday June 2nd, 3pm Eastern time. It's widescreen letterboxed too! Previously the only version aired was cropped pan & scan. A new DVD release can't be far behind.

Anonymous said...

As a 21 year old male with "M.D" I can say that "Jerry's Orphans" speaks for me.
Those of you unfamiliar with the word "paternalism" should go look up its meaning real quick at dictionary.com.
Chris Rock says it best:
"l've been watching
the Jerry Lewis Telethon...Not one stitch of progress whatsoever.
Come on, man. Lie to me, Jerry!
Lie to me!
Where the fuck's the money going?
What, to keep Jerry's hair black?
Where's the money going? Think about it.
Frank Sinatra: dead. Dean Martin: dead.
Sammy Davis: dead.
Jerry Lewis got a full head of black hair.
And if you ain't gonna cure the disease,
cut the kids a check!
That's right, you know the little boy who's
getting ready to die? Get him a table dance.
Get him a table dance, for Christ's sake!
l'm sure the Make-A-Wish people
hear that request every now and then.
Get the boy a table dance.
''What do you want, Jimmy? You're dying.
Wanna meet Jim Carrey?''
''No, l want some big titties in my face.
''lt's my last wish, come on.''
That's right, man."

Anonymous said...

So whatever Chris Rock says now is the TRUTH and that's your whole fucking point?

Jerry is not PC. He never will be. But his heart is in the right place. Let the man be. You really think he's stealing money from the telethon? He started this in the 50s, man! He didn't need the money back then yet he started this whole thing because he wanted to HELP. Yes, he has a huge ego. Yes, he's paternalist. Yes, he's not perfect. But he only wants to help and anyone who's seen the telethon at least once can tell you that.

Why didn't you guys approach him in a nice manner and talk to him about your complaints? Your "we are holier than thou" ways are passive-aggresive and make JL react the way he does to your "protests" *more like stalkings, like someone stated before*.

Last but not least:
Did you really have to ruin the night for the fans of Jerry and Dean? That's sacrilege, man! It's Martin&Lewis! I pity your bitter hearts.

PS: Leave Tom Petty alone lol.

Anonymous said...

Excellent on Jerry Lewis. Here is something new that has Jerry and Dean in the background. A new novel by Sam Moffie entitled The Organ Grinder and the Monkey. If you love Jerry and Dean, you will enjoy this book!

dorsey said...

Jerry Lewis Telethon is my favorite tv show.i watch and download Jerry lewis telethon every episodes. I understand the adversities suffered by patients inflicted by such genetic killers. They suffer both physically and emotionally and lack of funds only multiplies their miseries. We as professionals try to help them but there is a limit to that but “Jerry Lewis Telethon” has crossed limits when it comes to raising funds. So please expand this river of charity to an ocean so that it meets wider needs.

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I have heard stories about Jerry, featuring a lot of people with MDA not liking him.

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HogsAteMySister said...

Jerry Lee. Great talent. Late and a big asshole when I interviewed him 30 years ago. Things never change.

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Anonymous said...

Jerry's Orphans deserve no respect and get none from me. Whatever else Jerry Lewis may be, he has devoted **decades** of his life to raising money on behalf of people with this illness. My question to Jerry's Orphans is, what have you done to help?

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