It’s funny because last night Ruth and I were sitting out on the patio, as we always do every night, and we watched a video of Jerry Lewis in his heyday with Dean Martin. And we laughed and laughed.
If you read my book, “It Just Wasn’t Perfect for Me” you know I had the honor of doing some work with Jerry Lewis for Muscular Dystrophy for our local station in Michigan.
It was of the biggest thrills of my career. I can remember when I was a child lying on the floor watching our black and white TV on a Saturday evening, waiting for “The Colgate Comedy Hour” to begin. The show had alternate stars, and you really didn’t know who was going to be on it until the announcer revealed it during the opening show’s credits. I would lye there, hoping, hoping, will it be? Oh I hope so!
And when the announcer said, “It’s The Colgate Comedy Hour, starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis,” I would just scream out in laughter and delight. Jerry Lewis was the funniest person I had ever seen!
Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were the hottest show business act in the ‘50’s attracting humongous crowds of people rivaling that of Frank Sinatra and the Beatles, both before and after.
And when I got to sit down with Jerry Lewis a number of times, I was thinking, “I’m so blown away, so excited to meet this show business icon and to actually perform with him!”
Here’s an excerpt from my book, “It Just Wasn’t Perfect for Me” on meeting Jerry Lewis.
" Another highlight working there was the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. Every year we would go to Las Vegas and attend the local host seminars, a three or four day stay at the Sahara Hotel and then on the last day something very special. Each local host got to shoot a local promo with Jerry Lewis!
Now, I love Jerry Lewis. I can’t begin to tell you the joy I would have, when as a child, watching he and Dean Martin perform on TV and in the movies. To do a shoot with Jerry Lewis was just out of this world for me.
I was very nervous sitting down next to him, he could tell I was a little shaky. So he grabs my leg and starts to rub it and yells, “lady, lady, Rick D’Amico, a wop from Michigan is here, and I married a wop from Michigan and D’Amico is better looking!” We all laughed. By the way “wop” is what Jerry Lewis called Frank Sinatra, Sinatra addressed him as “Jew.” So I was impressed, if it was good enough for Frank, it was fine with me! He then whispered in my ear, “you’re nervous, that’s good, every time you’re nervous about performing, you’ll be good, that’s where creativity comes from!” He was just amazing. A time I will never forget."
I found myself thinking and sometimes doing “Jerry Lewis” while I was performing on the Morning Show I hosted in Phoenix. He was one of my guiding stars, who helped shape my on air personality.
Recently I was approached to see if I was interested in interviewing Jerry Lewis for a documentary on his life and career. I jumped at the chance, I would have done it for free.
He was always on my mind.
Even last night, the night before he passed away at the age of 91.
Here's more from AZCentral.