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Jerry Lewis, the rubber-faced, squeaky-voiced comedy legend who starred in movies and musicals and also was known for his unflagging work on behalf of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, died on Sunday, according to reports. He was 91 years old.
The family’s agent confirmed the news to Variety. The Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes first reported Lewis’ death, saying the comedian passed away “peacefully.”
Lewis had gone through a series of health problems and scares in recent years. In June 2012 he was hospitalized for two nights in New York after collapsing with what was reported to be a low blood sugar problem.
He was forced to cancel a fund-raising show in Australia due to poor health in June 2011.
Lewis had been touring Australia to raise money for the country’s Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, which is separate from the American association, where he served as president.
He announced in 2011 he was retiring as host of the association’s Labor Day Telethon, which he began hosting in 1966.
In recent years, Lewis also suffered from a back condition linked to a comedic pratfall from a piano, as well as heart problems. He reportedly had at least two heart attacks.
The comedian who first gained fame as part of a duo with singer Dean Martin was born Joseph Levitch on March 16, 1926 in Newark, New Jersey. …
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