FILE - In this Sept. 2, 1990, file photo, entertainer Jerry Lewis makes his opening remarks at the 25th Anniversary of the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon fundraiser in Los Angeles. Lewis, the comedian whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died according to his publicist. (AP Photo/Julie Markes, File)

The Latest: France pays homage to 'laughter genius' Lewis

August 20, 2017 - 6:49 pm

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Latest on the death of comedian and filmmaker Jerry Lewis (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

France's culture minister is paying homage to the "laughter genius" Jerry Lewis, who enjoyed unusual success with French audiences.

In a statement Sunday, Francois Nyssen praised "the extraordinary inventiveness of his game, his comic force" as well as his dramatic roles such as in "King of Comedy."

Lewis' goofy antics marked a sharp contrast with the gilded halls where he was inducted into France's Legion of Honor —wearing slippers — and with the art-house crowds in Paris and Cannes.

Yet while noting that he "wasn't always in favor with American critics," Nyssen said the French cinema world "paid him the homage he deserved."

"He made people laugh, he made people happy," Nyssen said. "France ... will remember his life, his silhouette, his voice, his legendary comedy."

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11:15 a.m.

Jerry Lewis, the rubber-faced comedian and director whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died.

Publicist Candi Cazau says Lewis passed away Sunday morning of natural causes at age 91 in Las Vegas with his family by his side.

Lewis first became a star in a duo with Dean Martin, entertaining audiences in nightclubs, on television and in the movies. After their split in 1956, he starred in and directed a slew of hit films such as "The Nutty Professor."

Later generations knew him primarily as the tireless conductor of the Labor Day weekend telethons to raise funds for victims of muscular dystrophy. Lewis retired from making movies in 1995, but returned as star of the 2016 drama "Max Rose."

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