King of Comedy: The Life and Art of Jerry Lewis (英語) ハードカバー – 1997/9/1
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A provocative portrait of one of America's most influential comedians analyzes the complex, sometimes disturbing world of Jerry Lewis, from his rise to fame and philanthropic work to the dark side of his career and personal life. 60,000 first printing. $60,000 ad/promo.
I came away from reading this book that like many, Jerry Lewis is flawed when it comes to his personal and professional relationships. His parents were no Ward and June Cleaver, but then again, many of us did not have Ward and June tuck us in at nigh either. After reading this book I realized that I would not like to sit down and have a cup of coffee with Jerry. I would like to talk more with his ex-wife as well as his son, Gary. It also made me want to read a biography about Dean Martin.
A very good, in depth biography.
It doesn't seem like Jerry Lewis was ever happy. He achieved a great deal, though.
Levy gave me a better sense of why audiences went nuts for Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. I never cared for their movies and Jerry Lewis never made me laugh, but I recognize they were great at what they did. Me being a baby-boomer, I was crazy for The Beatles and later Saturday Night Live. They had the pulse of my generation and manifested it in music and humor. Jerry and Dean gave voice and energy to what lay underneath the psyche of the post-WWII people. I remember reading about some old-time comedian who had a TV show that was the biggest thing ever for a while in the 50's. In the 70's, he'd sit in his basement drinking, watching Saturday Night Live, and muttering how not funny they were. But he was a different generation so he didn't get it.
He provides a detailed structured background into the creation, rise and fall of Martin and Lewis, which allows the reader to grasp why the act ruptured at the height of its success. Levy is the first writer to really provide concrete answers about the breakup, since both Martin and Lewis have always talked around the issue.
Levy also provides a back stage look at the solo career of Jerry Lewis allowing the reader to see why Lewis' post Martin film career, which started with great success was over by 1970. Levy included several lines of an Al Capp, creator of Lil Abner, opinion piece that analyzed Jerry's career and it captured exactly what made the comedy of Jerry Lewis hard to watch after his split with Dean Martin. Capp felt that Martin's presence tempered the shtick of Lewis and made it watchable. Martin restrained Lewis enough that made the wildness of Lewis tasteful and the movies made after the split lacked that restraint thus making the Lewis movies of the 1960s painful to watch because there was no one to tell Lewis when to stop filming a grown man making an embarrassing fool of himself.
Though, I do not like the comedy of Jerry Lewis, I have always been impressed by personal interviews where it becomes apparent that Lewis is a gracious person, who has always credited Martin for the success of their act, whether he totally believes it or not.
Jerry Lewis has always been more impressive to me when he performed or acted as an adult rather than a child. Personally, Lewis did his best work in the movie "King of Comedy" and the "Wise Guy" television series, which were dramatic roles.