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• Jerry Lewis, one of the more enduring comedians of the 20th century, polarizing in much of America while beloved in France, died yesterday of natural causes. He was 91.

Lewis first found fame as the hyperactive partner to crooner Dean Martin; Martin & Lewis was one of the most successful nightclub acts of the 1950s. After their acrimonious breakup, Lewis went on to make (and direct) movies, perform in Las Vegas and on television, and become a highly visible spokesman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association through a series of telethons that ran over four decades.

Later in his career, after having seen his popularity significantly decline, Lewis played more dramatic roles, both on television and, most notably opposite Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy,


• Dick Gregory, the pioneering black comedian who once said that his goal was to “be a colored funny man, not a funny colored man,” passed away over the weekend. He was 84.

Gregory was a breakthrough performer in his willingness to address the civil rights and racial issues of the sixties, and often was compared to the most trenchant satirists of the period, Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce. With jokes like, “Segregation is not all bad. Have you ever heard of a collision where the people in the back of the bus got hurt?,” Gregory managed to get laughs while often missing club dates to participate in a wide variety of social protests.
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