SOME YEARS BACK, there was a poll taken on the Sports Pages of our American Newspapers. It concerned College Football and there were only two questions:
What is your favourite College Football team?
What is your most hated College Football team?
PERHAPS, NOT SO surprisingly the answer to both questions was one in the same. It was the University of Notre Dame's 'Fighting Irish' gridiron squad that garnered the necessary votes on both sides of the ledger for a first ballot double victory. Obviously, there is no one out there without an opinion about the old Catholic school in South Bend, Indiana.
SO IT IS that same sort of strong emotions response is received when the topic of Dean Martin's old partner is brought to the floor for discussion.
IF THERE IS one single personality in all of show biz who completely polarizes an audience and the public at large it's Jerry Lewis. There is no middle ground or neutral territory in the debate. We do confess to have formerly been highly critical of the behaviour displayed by this performer; although anyone would be hard pressed to deny the presence of considerable and widely varied amounts of talent, which is at his disposal.
MAYBE IT ALL started with the breakup of the Martin & Lewis comedy team, circa 1956. It was then that Jerry's film career flourished and some Parisian film critic declared him to be a comic genius and another Chaplin. Some great man (we think it was Will Rogers) once said that "a Comedian can only last as long as he and his audience don't take him seriously!"
THESE WORDS COULD not be more fittingly applied to any comedian more than to Jerry Lewis.
AS WE HAVE previously stated, we too were less than favourably impressed with his performances on his various excursions into the live talk format TONIGHT-style format. Yet his movies were continually Top$ at the Old Box Office. So there seemed to coexist a sort of on-stage dichotomy or a sort of Jekyll & Hyde team, all rolled up into one. This is not easy for the public to deal with.
AS FOR HIS involvement with the MDA LABOR DAY TELETHON, we remember that both he and Dean had been regulars on the various telethons that were around in the early days of television; and that their allotted time of 20 minutes or half an hour went by with some lightning fast speed, the team was just that funny. But this is where the interest in promoting the show and the MDA cause seemed to become paramount in his life.
WHEN WE LOOK back at those 40+ years that Jerry chaired the cause and hosted the show, we see a true fervor; one that no man could possibly fake. It puts us to mind of all of the work that the late Danny Thomas did in establishing ST. JUDE'S CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL in Memphis; yet no one has had anything to say but the best remarks to what is surely the highest degree of selflessness on the part of Mr. Thomas.
AS FOR JERRY, the performer, we believe that he had a sort of epiphany in the early to mid 1980's. It was during this time that he suffered with severe heart disease, requiring some very serious surgery.
IT WAS ON NBC's Saturday NIGHT that he made his return to performing. The man was a trooper, doing his part to make it a great show and in supporting his fellow performers. This was the Jerry that we so fondly remember from his earlier days.
SO, WHY NOT give him and his involvement with the All-Star, all donated acts that comprised it? and, Shame on you MDA for dumping him!
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?