Jerry Lewis, the entertainer known for his unique slapstick humor, died August 20. He was 91-years old.
Lewis’ family said in a statement that he died of natural causes at 9:15 a.m. at his Las Vegas home with them at his side.
Lewis is survived by his wife, SanDee Pitnick, and six of his seven children. His son Joseph Lewis died from a narcotics overdose in 2009.
Six of Lewis’ seven children were with his first wife, Patti Palmer (one was adopted), while he and Pitnick adopted a daughter in 1992.
Lewis’ death comes after a long hospital stay in June when he was admitted to be treated with antibotics for a urinary tract injection, Las Vegas News 3 reported. While he was in the hospital, he developed several other complications, which extended his stay.
However, the family said the complications from the treatment didn’t lead to his death, it was ultimately natural causes.
During an emotional October 6, 2016 interview with Inside Edition, Lewis fought back tears as he said he was scared of dying because it would leave his daughter and his wife alone.
The hospital stay in June was just one of numerous health concerns that plagued him throughout his lifetime. He developed a number of illnesses and addictions related to aging and also suffered a back injury when he fell from a piano while performing in Las Vegas in 1965. The accident nearly left him paralyzed, and he became addicted to painkillers in the 13 years that followed.
In 2002, Lewis had a piece of equipment surgically implanted into his back to reduce the discomfort.
In the documentary Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis, the comedian revealed that he suffered a heart attack in 1960 and then suffered another one in 1982.
Then, on a cross-country flight from San Diego to New York City in 2006, Lewis suffered a minor heart attack. When he was hospitalized, it was revealed that he had pneumonia and a “severely damaged heart.” He underwent a procedure and had stents placed into one of his arteries, which was almost 100 percent blocked.
While it was on the big screen and in clubs Lewis made a name for himself in the early years, it was his humanitarianism that the later generations may remember him for. He served as the national chairman and spokesman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association up until 2011, and he hosted benefit telethons every Labor Day weekend from 1966 until 2010 — the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.
In the about 50 years he hosted the telethons, he raised over $2.6 billion worldwide for the cause.
But on August 3, 2011, the organization announced he would no longer be hosting the telethons and was “no longer associated with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.”
Numerous celebrities reacted to the news of Lewis’ death on Twitter.