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1963_10_12--083_SP Search for Jerry Lewis

The search forJERRY LEWIS By EDWARD LINN You can deplore him or adore him, but nobody ignores the Nut Kid. Jerry Lewis clowns for his fans outside New York theater. Every now and then, Jerry Lewis is asked to judge a beauty contest. Unlike most celebrities, however, Lewis leaps to the challenge. "They always send you ten pictures," he says, "and it never fails that there's always one plain girl who you can see got in there by mistake." Naturally she is the one Lewis picks. "I'm only sorry I can't be there when her name is announced," he says, cackling the Jerry Lewis laugh. "Not so much to see her reaction—you can't fool her; the plain ones learn early enough what they are. But I'd like, just once, to see the faces of those other nine broads, because you just know they've been making that poor girl's life miserable all week." The recurring theme in a Jerry Lewis picture is that the little guy who gets pushed around—the character variously known in his inner circles as The Little Fellow or The Nut Kid—will not necessarily triumph, but he will survive. Bill Richmond, who has collaborated with Lewis in the writing of Jerry's last three pictures, points out, "Jerry's theme is not Cinderella. The ugly duckling doesn't turn into a swan; he remains an ugly duckling. Jerry's theme is, it will be all right.' He has great compassion for the poor soul, because I think he was that in his childhood, or at least that he knew people who are clumsy, ugly, lonely." Jerry believes firmly that he can separate himself from the character he portrays. And, professionally, sometimes he can make the division. Watching the daily rushes, he is cool and merciless. The man on the screen is always him, never me. "I got him in too much here, I got to cut some footage. He's funny here. . . . No, he's lying there. . . . No, this is a force job. . . . Look in his eyes there; he's lying. Lose that." Photographs by William Bead Woodfield 83


1963_10_12--083_SP Search for Jerry Lewis
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