It’s been just over a year since comedic legend Jerry Lewis passed away at the age of 91. Now, fans are going to get an inside look at Lewis like never before with two new projects that are sure to get them excited.
The first is a new box set of 10 of Lewis’ most popular movie, and the second is an exhibit on him at the Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Film in New York City. The comedian’s son Chris Lewis, who worked with his father for years as his road manager, has been closely involved in both projects. As the overseer of his film and TV vault and archivist, Chris arguably knows more about his father’s career than anyone. As such, he has promised fans that the two ventures will be full of surprises for them.
“I’m there trying to keep things in great shape and up to date,” Chris said. “And we have some really beautiful copies of these classic comedies.”
Chris is referring to the Jerry Lewis 10 Film Collection, which includes movies like 1951’s The Stooge with his long-time comedy partner Dean Martin as well as iconic films such as The Nutty Professor and The Bellboy. The set can be bought for just $20!
“Something for everybody, for every age group,” Chris said. “Kids will love the really crazy slapstick stuff in The Disorderly Orderly, and people who remember the Martin and Lewis days in the ’50s will enjoy those.”
“For me, The Errand Boy from 1962 is one of my favorites because I grew up on the Paramount lot watching my dad shoot all of his films,” he added. “And that is basically a tour of the Paramount lot in 1962. He was using the studio as his backdrop.”
Meanwhile the exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art includes hundreds of storyboards for The Nutty Professor, photos of Lewis throughout his career, and even programs based on his never-before-seen home movie productions.
For these home movies, Chris explained that his father would invite people like Dean Martin, Janet Leigh, and other stars of the day over to his house, where they would create a semi-scripted production just for their own entertainment.
“My dad would edit them and cut them together and then they would have a premiere at my dad’s house,” he said. “For example, there would be a spoof on a current film, Come Back Little Sheba. My dad’s production was called ‘Come Back Little Shiksa,’ starring my dad and mom and Dean Martin and whoever else was there.”
Chris said that all of this came from Lewis’ vault, which was filled with a 26-foot-long truck with more than 12,000 pounds of footage in 3,000 canisters.
“It was a lot of stuff, and there’s still a lot of stuff out there,” he said. “As far as the papers and the things that went into the making of his film productions, we’re still getting that to the Library of Congress.”
“He kept everything, which is really great,” Chris added. “It’s like a window into a time capsule.”