Jerry Lewis died August 20 at the age of 91. His family confirmed his death in a statement, saying that the famed comedian passed away from 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.
About one year before his death, Lewis gave an emotional interview to Inside Edition in which he cried talking about his impending death.
“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 wife SanDee and his adopted daughter Danielle alone.
“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.
Watch the interview in the video below:
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.”