Jerry Lewis has a long and storied comedic career as well as a reputation for being one of the greatest charitable celebrity pitchmen of all time. However, his latter years have not been as kind to both his body and his reputation.
That’s because Lewis has some unpopular opinions, and he isn’t afraid to let them be heard. The latest comments involve his disdain for Syrian refugees, whom he believes should “stay the hell where they are,” Raw Story reports.
Jerry Lewis made the comments to Catholic talk show host Raymond Arroyo on The World Over earlier in December 2015.
“Refugees should stay where the hell they are,” he said, disagreeing with the idea that it was a “humanitarian crisis.”
“Hey, nobody has worked harder for the human condition than I have, but they’re not part of the human condition,” Lewis said, referring to his Jerry Lewis Telethon that raised millions for muscular dystrophy research.
He continued, “If 11 guys in that group of 10,000 are ISIS, how can I take the chance? I don’t want to lose another Frenchman or another Englishman. That bothers me.”
Naturally, this didn’t sit well with Raw Story, a left-leaning blog, which referred to the comments as “full nutter.”
Jerry Lewis was also clearly unimpressed with President Obama’s handling of the situation.
“What I’m watching in him is uncertainty,” the comedian said. “And you don’t have uncertainty in a leader. A leader doesn’t give a sh*t what he does, but he gets it done.”
Lewis also shared praise for Donald Trump’s campaign, calling him a “showman,” and noting that “we’ve never had a showman in the president’s chair.”
When Arroyo compared Trump to Ronald Reagan, a former actor, Jerry Lewis balked.
“That’s different. You can’t make a comparison with Ronald Reagan,” Lewis said. “I can do three hours on him with just praise, he was so good.”
In the overarching interview, Lewis also had disdain for Stephen Colbert, calling him an “elitist” and a “snob.”
Jerry Lewis is no stranger to controversial comments. In a previous interview dating back to April 2014, Lewis said that women are only funny if they’re not being crude.
The controversy surrounding that soundbite forced him to issue this clarification.
“Seeing a woman project the kind of aggression that you have to project as a comic just rubs me wrong. And they’re funny — I mean you got some very, very funny people that do beautiful work — but I have a problem with the lady up there that’s going to give birth to a child — which is a miracle. … But when you have women like Carol Burnett, that’s the greatest female entrepreneur of comedy. I just saw Carol at the Smith Center at home in Vegas, and I was stunned by how brilliant she is and how brilliantly she brings the audience right up to her.”
There was a time when Hollywood fully embraced Jerry Lewis. His days with Dean Martin and roles in movies like Rock-A-Bye Baby, Cinderfella, and The Nutty Professor made him one of the most successful comedians of all time to that point.
The last even inspired a wildly successful Eddie Murphy remake some years back.
As his career progressed, a more serious profile started to emerge, helped in part by his charity work and a central role in the dark Martin Scorsese-Robert De Niro film The King of Comedy.
Now it’s hard to fathom Jerry Lewis being embraced by Hollywood, especially after his pro-Trump comments, but what do you think, readers?
Has Jerry Lewis said anything wrong here — about Syria, women, Obama, Trump, Reagan, or Colbert — and if you think he has, do you cut him slack for being a product of his generation? Sound off in the comments section.