After a successful career in comedy, acting, directing, singing and humanitarianism, Jerry Lewis died at the age of 91. The legendary entertainer passed away from natural causes at his Las Vegas home in the morning of August 20, his family confirmed in a statement.
Lewis was often known for his unique slapstick humor on TV, film, TV, stage and on the radio and famously was partners with Dean Martin in the comedy duo Martin and Lewis.
Lewis met Pitnick while he performed in Las Vegas in the early 1980s, and the couple wed shortly after he got a divorce from his first wife.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Lewis &Amp; Pitnick Got Married in a Private Ceremony 1983
Lewis was 57 at the time and Pitnick was 32, and their marriage came less than two months after Lewis underwent a successful double-bypass heart surgery.
The wedding was a traditional Jewish ceremony and took place at the Sonesta Hotel, Lewis’ personal manager Joe Stabile said.
“The best man will be Bob Ross, national director fo the Muscular Dystrophy Association,” Stabile said to reporters. “And my wife, Claudia, will be matron of honor. The five of us, and the rabbi, will be the only people present at the wedding. It’s very private.”
2. The Couple Adopted a Daughter in 1992 After SanDee Had 2 Miscarriages
Lewis had six sons with Palmer, and often spoke about his desire to have a daughter. He had that fulfilled in 1992 when the couple adopted Danielle Sarah Lewis, who was born on March 23, 1992.
“She’s the answer to my dreams,” Jerry told Stabile. “I’m happier now than I’ve ever been in my life.”
However, having a new daughter, for whatever reason, resulted in Lewis cutting his six sons out of his life. It was reported that he didn’t even inform them initially that they had a new sister. They found out when they saw him speaking about Danielle on TV.
SanDee and Lewis reportedly tried to have a baby for years, however they stopped trying and decided to adopt after she suffered two miscarriages.
“Jerry insisted that the baby had to be a girl,” Stabile said. “He set up medical tests and selected a pregnant young woman whose tests showed she would have a girl. When the baby arrived, Jerry was at the hospital, and he told me that tears ran down his cheeks when the doctors told him the beautiful, healthy baby girl had been born.
“Jerry confided in me, ‘I was awestruck that I finally had my daughter.’ And he’s turned into a doting dad. He diapers the baby, burps her, talks to her, carries her around and helps bathe her.”
3. Lewis Emotionally Talked About His Fear of Dying & Leaving SanDee & Danielle Alone
About one year before his death, Lewis gave an emotional interview to Inside Edition in which he cried talking about his impending death and the impact it would have on Pitnick and Danielle.
“If you’re real to yourself, you recognize there’s not a lot of time left,” Lewis said during the interview. “I don’t like that part, I don’t like that part at all.”
He spoke about being afraid leaving his two close family members behind.
“I’m not going to (be able to) hold them, I’m not going to (be able to) love them and then I can’t handle that,” a tearful Lewis said.
At age 90, Lewis played an aging musician who couldn’t face life without his wife in the film Max Rose. The circumstances were eerily similar to his, which is why the role made him especially emotional.
4. Pitnick Is a Former Dancer & Has Acted
According to a 1980 PEOPLE Magazine article, Pitnick is a former stewardess and Las Vegas dancer.
Pitnick appeared in one of Lewis’ movies, Hardly Working, in a small role as a dancer. Lewis directed the film and was also the main character, Bo Hooper.
In addition to her role in the movie, she also appeared on Lewis’ popular Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon, as well as the 2014 documentary Telethon.
The PEOPLE article said that his former wife Palmer accused him of providing Pitnick lavish gifts of “jewelry and luggage in Paris, Hawaii, Las Vegas and Florida” while they were still married.
Divorce papers acquired by the publication showed that Palmer requested the separation and also $450,000 annually to support herself and her children. She accused Lewis of displaying “an open disregard for (their) marriage, and (she was) a ‘financial puppet’ at the mercy of his office, with no money of (her) own.”
5. Lewis Spoke Glowingly About His Affection for Pitnick
Lewis often referred to Pitnick glowingly, on one occasion saying that she’s “the greatest audience (he has) ever had.”
“I say to everybody, love is what wakes you up in the morning, love is what makes you walk and love is what makes you hope,” he told The Guardian in 2016. “Love is what makes you dream and love is what makes you want to get up in the morning, love is something that you want to be a part of, because it makes you better.”
In September 2016, Lewis opened up to PEOPLE about his life and how he was “running out of time,” adding that he still had “a lot of stuff to do.”
Lewis also talked about his companionship with Pitnick.
“We’ve had 38 years and she’s my right arm, left arm, both legs, head lips and eyes,” he said to the publication. She’s one of those things people get lucky with.”