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Jerry Lewis

The Nutty Professor – MMS

The last movie that Jerry Lewis made is an Oscar-worthy film. He should have received an honorary Academy Award for it at the least. It’s called Max Rose and it is tearjerker. Because Jerry lived in Las Vegas, they decided to host the preview at a strip mall theater there. Tickets to this preview were available to the public and I grabbed two before they quickly sold out.

It was a fairly small Cineplex theater with a large screen. All of Las Vegas Royalty came out to pay tribute to the Godfather of comedy: Penn Jillette and Teller, comedian Carrot Top, Tony Orlando, Wayne Newton, Susan Anton, and Robin Leach just to name-drop a few.

CBS still had his powder-blue Paramount security guard shirt from when he worked there. He felt it would be the perfect thing to wear since Paramount was the studio where Jerry did his most iconic movie work. Jerry began as a duo with Dean Martin at Paramount in 1949, but later went on to be a force to be reckoned with as a solo artist there in 1957: Cinderfella, The Errand Boy, Nutty Professor, and The Ladies Man.

By 1959, Lewis’ movies raked in $100 million for Paramount when tickets cost less than 70 cents, He was so untouchable, the studio’s head of production, Barney Balaban, proclaimed, “If Jerry wants to burn down the studio, I’ll give him the match!” (Quote from NY Post)

“If Jerry wants to
burn down the studio,
I’ll give him the match!”

CBS’s mother D’Arlene had a single line as a young ingénue in The Ladies Man. We moved to Las Vegas in part because of the historic rat pack vibe. Many things came together in full circle that evening.

So I waited in line while CBS scouted around the side of the line to see if there was another way in. Turns out there was and the security guards saw his Paramount shirt and let him in, no questions asked. By the time I made it inside, CBS had saved us front row seats. After the movie was over, Jerry got up to do a Q&A session. He was so close I could have kicked his fancy comedy-tragedy slipper shoes!

“Realizing their frailty
as an aging human
in human life.”

After the Q&A was over, CBS went up and shook his hand and told him about his mom in The Ladies Man. It was another instance of meeting someone who is so much larger than life and then realizing their frailty as an aging human in real life.

In spite of that frailty, Jerry still had a great spunk of life. During the Q&A, a woman got up and asked him a ridiculous question that had already been asked earlier. He banged the mike a few times and his brutal answer was, “Can you hear me?”