Lewis was many things but certainly a charitable soul

It isn’t often that we use this space to mark the passing of a Hollywood luminary. While we have nothing against those folks, their role in society overall is often overstated.

That’s not the case, however, in the death of Jerry Lewis, who died Sunday in Las Vegas at the age of 91. Lewis was the rare entertainment personality to use his celebrity to leave the world a much better place than he found it through his work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Born Joseph Levitch on March 16, 1926, in Newark, N.J., Lewis first found himself in front of vaudeville audiences at the tender age of 5, alongside his entertainer parents.

He worked for years in live entertainment before starting an immensely successful professional pairing with singer Dean Martin. The partnership lasted 11 years and firmly established Lewis as a bankable Hollywood star up through the 1960s.

It was about this time that he got involved with the annual MDA telethon and fundraising apparatus, an association that lasted from 1966 through 2010, when Lewis’ health started taking a toll.

It’s estimated that he helped the association raise $2.6 billion over that period of time.

He worked sporadically in his final years. And in one well publicized media event in 2011, he was asked what he still needed to accomplish in life. Without hesitation, Lewis replied, “Get the cure for muscular dystrophy. Then I’m fine.”

He will be missed.