Jerry Lewis is an American comedian, singer, actor, film producer, screenwriter and film director. He originally broke into comedy in 1946 when he teamed up with Dean Martin to form "Martin and Lewis." After becoming a major hit as a stand-alone act, both men were invited to star in a number of comedy films produced by Paramount Pictures. Beyond performing, Lewis has been an active philanthropist, including serving as the national chairman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Lewis was born on March 16, 1926 to Daniel and Rae Levitch. Daniel, who was an actor and master of ceremonies, went by the easier-to-pronounce surname of Lewis for his stage name. His son adopted the Lewis name from a young age. Rae was a performer, as well. She played piano for a local New York radio station.
Lewis began performing comedy full time at the age of just 15. After failing to draw much appeal while performing in Buffalo, a friend of his father's helped him land a gig in Loch Sheldrake, New York, as a final chance. Among the audience that night was a well known comedian named Irving Kaye, who ended up taking Lewis under his wing and helping him improve his routines.
Lewis originally met Dean Martin while performing at the Glass Hat Club in New York City. One year later, when Lewis' fellow performer quit, Lewis encouraged the management to invite Martin. The duo was a huge hit and went on to become famous.
In his personal life, Lewis was originally married to Patti Palmer. The couple wed in 1944 and went on to have six children. They divorced in 1982, and Lewis married SanDee Pitnick the following year. They have one daughter together.