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Coroner Reveals What Really Killed Jerry Lewis

Comedy legend Jerry Lewis passed away, delivering a massive blow to the entertainment world. Now, we know what caused his death.

Heart failure took the life of Jerry Lewis, a comedian and actor who became known for hosting the Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon, according to the New York Daily News.

A coroner in Clark County, Nevada, announced that the cause of death was ischemic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart cannot supply enough blood to sustain a person’s body. Officials decided that an autopsy for the 91-year-old was not necessary.

Lewis struggled with heart ailments for many years, having had his first heart attack when he was just 34 years old in 1960. Subsequent attacks happened in 1982 and 2006. Over the years, the comedian also was diagnosed with prostate cancer, Type 1 diabetes, pulmonary fibrosis and viral meningitis. He was nearly paralyzed when he injured his back during a stage appearance in 1965.

Hollywood stars quickly responded to the news of Lewis’ passing on Sunday. Actor Robert DeNiro called him “a pioneer in comedy and film,” adding: “He was a friend. I was fortunate to have seen him a few times over the past couple of years. Even at 91, he didn't miss a beat … or a punchline. You’ll be missed.” In a written statement, the White House declared: “Jerry Lewis kept us all laughing for over half a century, and his incredible charity work touched the lives of millions. Our thoughts are with his family today as we remember the extraordinary life of one of our greatest entertainers and humanitarians.”

Lewis began his career as a comic in movies and television, often joining forces with Dean Martin. He was the subject of a documentary, “Method to the Madness,” starring comedians like Billy Crystal, Eddie Murphy and Chevy Chase. In the film, Jerry Seinfeld remarked that “if you don’t get Jerry Lewis you don’t understand comedy.” Lewis showed his humor, as well as his humility, when he said: “I get paid for what most kids get punished for.”

While his slapstick routines in the movies won many fans, it was the telethon that gave Lewis lasting fame. He made passionate appeals for donations to help “Jerry’s kids,” tearing up when he sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” The comedian also was an accomplished businessman. In 1969, he began opening movie theaters called Jerry Lewis Cinemas. The Daily News noted that the facilities were among the first examples of buildings hosting multiple theaters.

Lewis and Martin, who met in 1945, had a long collaboration in films, television, radio and stage. Lewis portrayed the funny guy, while Martin served as the straight man. Their nightclub act at the Copa raked in a reputed $30,000 each week. Between 1949 and 1956, the duo appeared in 16 Paramount movies, including “My Friend Irma” and “Hollywood or Bust.”

Lewis and Martin parted ways in 1956, refusing to speak with each other for 20 years. Martin died in 1995. Lewis became a huge movie star without his former partner, starring in “The Bellboy,” “Cinderfella,” “The Errand Boy,” “The Family Jewels” and “The Nutty Professor.”

Not everyone loved Lewis. He once joked that “people hate me because I am a multifaceted, talented, wealthy, internationally famous genius.” When a reporter asked in 2011 whether he was satisfied with his life, he replied: “Not yet, but I’m getting close. Get the cure for muscular dystrophy. Then I’m fine. Otherwise, I’m the happiest old man you’ve ever seen.”

Source: NY Daily News
Photo: YouTube

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