Jerry Lewis finally is getting some respect from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose board of governors has voted to honor him with a special Oscar for his humanitarian work.
The prolific filmmaker, who has never been nominated for an Oscar, will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award during the 81st Annual Academy Awards ceremony on February 22.
"Jerry is a legendary comedian who has not only brought laughter to millions around the world but has also helped thousands upon thousands by raising funds and awareness for those suffering from muscular dystrophy," Academy president Sid Ganis said.
Lewis, 82, who made his screen debut with nightclub-act partner Dean Martin in 1949's "My Friend Irma," began making local and national televised appeals on behalf of the newly founded Muscular Dystrophy Assn. during the early 1950s. He has been the organization's national chairman since 1952 and has spearheaded the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon, which has raised more than $2 billion, since 1966.
Lewis starred alongside Martin in 16 films before establishing a solo career as a screen performer, director and producer with such films as "The Bellboy," "The Nutty Professor," "The Disorderly Orderly" and Martin Scorsese's "The King of Comedy."
A series of lectures on filmmaking that Lewis delivered as an adjunct professor at USC was published as "The Total Film-Maker" in 1971.