Jerry Lewis is No Joke to the French [Vintage Article]

I found this  article about comedian Jerry Lewis: "Jerry Lewis is No Joke to the French" by Stanley Meisler Montreal Gazette January 23, 1984. (Read it here on Google News.)

In it, we see Lewis wearing his Commander of Arts and Letters insignia in Paris. The author notes that the French "look on him as a comic in the tradition and of the calibre of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers." But no such love was shown to him stateside, apparently. Lewis says that he has battled the reputation of not being the critically-acclaimed comic in his own country for 30 years. "When I get depressed," he says, "I come to Europe."

How sad. But also, all of the comics to whom he is compared in the article were all, unfortunately, dead by at least 7 years, if not more, by the time this article came out. It is difficult to be a legend in your own time. Plus, they were legends with most of their career in the can. Lewis, on the other hand, was still making films at this point.

Also, Lewis is second generation slapstick, with his solo career's heyday in a time of increasing cynicism and droll wit - the 1960s and 1970s. Very few classic stars were getting their due by the 1970s, I think. It would take another generation and home videos to revitalize the appreciation for glamour and wit of the mid 20th century. I hope he felt appreciated by the end of his life.


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