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Jerry Lewis Labor Day Movie Marathon On TCM

Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin from "The Colgate Comedy Hour" in 1955, a year before they broke up their popular act.

Update 1:30 p.m.: Over-the-air WOTH-TV's Movies TV Network (Channel 20.1) also will air a Jerry Lewis marathon Labor Day starting with "Don’t Give Up The Ship" (1959) at 8 a.m., in addition to the Turner Classics Movie marathon.

The Channel 20.1 "Icon-a-thon" continues with "The Ladies Man" (10 a.m.) from 1961; "The Nutty Professor" (12:30 p.m.) from 1963; "Boeing Boeing" (3 p.m.) from 1965; "The Family Jewels" (5:30 p.m.) from 1965; "You're Never Too Young" with Lewis and Jerry Martin (8 p.m.) from 1955; .and repeats of "The Nutty Professor"(10:30 p.m..) and "Boeing Boeing" (1 a.m.).

Original post: Those of you who spent Labor Day with Jerry Lewis hosting the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon can enjoy his movies Monday Sept. 4 in a tribute to the entertainer who died Aug. 20 at age 91.

Credit NBC Television
Jerry Lewis in 1973

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will broadcast five films, starting with arguably his two best known films – the 1963 comedy "The Nutty Professor" (8 p.m., TCM) and Martin Scorsese's 1982 drama "The King of Comedy" (10 p.m., TCM). 

Next TCM will air "The Stooge" (midnight) made with singer Dean Martin in 1952 at the height of the popularity of the Martin & Lewis comedy team; "The Bellboy" (2 a.m.) from 1960; and "The Disorderly Orderly" (3:30 a.m.). from 1964.

It's fitting that TCM starts the marathon with "The Nutty Professor." Comedian Jeff "Big Daddy" Wayne, a Newport native and comedy historian based in Los Angeles, says that Lewis "really plugged the hell out of 'The Nutty Professor.' Jerry came to Cincinnati in '63 to promote it. When he was in Covington, he stopped at the White Castle. He loved eating hamburgers."

In 2012, Wayne met with Lewis and others to discuss a reality show, but it never happened.  "It was  after Lewis had been fired from the (MDA) telethon (in 2011). He could be very entertaining on the spot. He told incredible stories," says Wayne, who saw Lewis perform in 1975 at the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate.

They would chat from time to time by phone at various hours. "Once I got a phone call at 2 o'clock in the morning, and I never thought I'd ever hear my son come in and say, 'Dad, Jerry Lewis is on the phone!' " Wayne says.

Lewis started performing at age 5 in New York's Catskill Mountains with his parents (dad was a vaudeville entertainer; mom was a pianist). Lewis was a slapstick comedian, actor, singer, recording artist, director, producer, screenwriter and humanitarian.

Credit NBC Television
Rosemary Clooney, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis rehearsing for "The Colgate Comedy Hour" in 1952.

Martin & Lewis hosted NBC's "Colgate Comedy Hour" from 1950-55, while making movies and club appearances. After breaking up in 1956, Lewis performed solo in night clubs, movies, concerts and on television.

"Jerry grew up in burlesque. He was exposed to so much talent as a kid, it just seeped into his body. He grew up in that philosophy of  'I have to entertain you. I have to win over the audience,'" Wayne told me. 

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.