Jerry Lewis

Several female co-stars have accused the late comedic icon and philanthropist Jerry Lewis of sexual assault and harassment. 

Most of the allegations were from the 1960s when Jerry Lewis was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars and the most famous comedian on the planet. At the time, he was considered untouchable, with one studio exec joking that Lewis had the power to burn the studio to the ground if he wanted. 

It appeared he used this power and fame to coerce women into sex.

Related: Watch Jerry Lewis speak candidly about his contentious relationship with Dean Martin.

What Are The Accusations Against Jerry Lewis? 

In several interviews conducted by Vanity Fair and the Allen vs. Farrow documentary producers, women describe Lewis making aggressive sexual advances and punishing actresses who didn’t comply with his sexual whims.

Karen Sharpe describes how Lewis forbade anyone in the cast or crew from speaking with her on the set of The Disorderly Orderly. After Lewis came onto Sharpe during a costume fitting, Sharpe rebuked his advances. Sharpe recalls, β€œHe grabbed me. He began to fondle me. He unzipped his pants. Quite frankly, I was dumbstruck.”

When Sharpe finally confronted him about his behavior, Lewis said he was “sick,” an excuse Sharpe didn’t buy. 

According to the report, Lewis, who was a notorious sex hound, often cornered starlets to coherence them into sex. Unfortunately, Lewis’ actions were par for the course in that era. Powerful men ruled with impunity, and any time a woman tried to speak out, she risked the end of her career by becoming a Hollywood pariah. 

Read the full Vanity Fair article here.

What Was Jerry Lewis Like?

Lewis did little to hide his sexual proclivity and often bragged of his numerous affairs with stars.

His philandering nature led to his wife of 30 years and the mother of six of his children divorcing him. None of the children spoke fondly of him, with his son Gary calling Lewis a “mean and evil person.” The comedian disinherited his first family entirely from his $50 million estate when he died in 2017.

Lewis was an extremely insecure actor onset and wouldn’t allow anyone else in his films to make jokes or even be funny for fear that it would steal his spotlight. 

While considered a visionary director and a pioneer of independent films, Lewis’ transgressions as a sexual predator outweigh any accomplishment.

Related: Watch Milton Berle Smack Don Rickles During This Friars Club Roast Of Jerry Lewis

Exposing Old Hollywood

My only regret about these stories is that they’re coming out now. If they came out when Lewis was alive, then the media could press the beloved star about his actions and why he thought his actions were ok.

I suspect the response from Lewis would be a mix of defiance and pleas for sympathy, both classics in the confronted abuser playbook.

I hope stories like this continue to come out. Powerful and evil men coerced an entire generation of women into silence, and we need to hear their stories.

What do you think? Will you still watch Jerry Lewis films? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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