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Jerry Lewis: The Comedian And His Music

Monday, 21 August 2017 07:30 AM Written by 

 

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Comedy was the late Jerry Lewis's stock in trade, before, during his days with Dean Martin and certainly during his own film career. Music, however, funny and serious, was never far away, even before he began working with Dean Martin. In his performing days in New York's Catskills and before he met Dean, he did comical pantomimes to records, as you see in the Errand Boy clip below.   He was doing this "record act" at the 500 Club in Atlantic City in 1946 where he and Dino, who'd previously met in New York, became a permanent team until parting ways in 1956.

1948: The Beginning:

"That Certain Party" with Dean Martin A Top 30 single two years after they teamed up. The song goes back to 1926

1955: (Sort of) Rocking on TV:

"Shake A Hand" Martin and Lewis with Freddie Bell and the Bellboys join up for the 1953 Faye Adams R&B hit--from the Colgate Comedy Hour.

1956: Singing it Straight:

"Rock-A-Bye Your Baby (With A Dixie Melody)" In the year of Elvis, the same year Jerry and Dean split, Jerry made this Al Jolson oldie a # 10 pop hit.

"It All Depends On You " from the Lewis LP seen above: Jerry Lewis Just Sings.  With Buddy Bregman's Orchestra.

On Film:

1961: Miming The Errand Boy, 2010: Family Guy copies him. This memorable scene from Lewis's 1961 film features him pantomiming to the Basie Orchestra's "Blues In Hoss's Flat" (Lewis was a lifelong Basie fan). Family Guy emulated it for the 2010 episode "Brian & Stewie."

1963: "We've Got A World That Swings" in full Buddy Love mode from The Nutty Professor with the Les Brown Orchestra.

TV:

1987: Al Jolson Medley: "I'm Happy"/"Mammy"/"Swannee"/"April Showers"/Toot-Toot-Tootsie"/"California Here I Come"/"Rock-A-Bye Your Baby" with Sammy Davis, Jr. from the MDA Telethon:

2014: Jerry visits The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, explains the Errand Boy sequence and re-creates a bit of it. 

2016: In his final film, Max Rose.  First seen overseas in 2013, it premiered in America last year, Lewis played an aging jazz pianist dealing with the death of his wife. This is the trailer. Again, he does a bit of miming to a record. Up to the end, music was never far away from Jerry Lewis's ouevre.

 

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