In 1962 when I was a school kid in the Manhattan Day School on 104th Street and Manhattan Avenue, my classmate Bella recruited me to join the Jerry Lewis Fan Club. I've been impressed ever since with the enormous talent, character and generosity of this performer.
Jerry deserves the award. The Times has a nice article, here is part,
... He was born Joseph Levitch in Newark on March 16, 1926, the only child of vaudevillians who, during the school year, left him with relatives while they hit the road. He didn’t stay behind for long: by the age of 5 he was warbling the Depression standard “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” in the borscht belt, where, as a teenager, he worked as a tummler, a hotel social director cum court jester whose job it was to keep guests entertained at any madcap cost. By 19 he was a high-school dropout with a wife (the first of two), a baby (the first of seven) and a struggling career lip-synching to records in funny outfits, making like Carmen Miranda with a fruit-bowl hat as “Jerry Lewis — Satirical Impressions in Pantomimicry.”
The partnership with Martin, with whom he joined forces in 1946, turned them into a national phenomenon. There had been plenty of comedy teams before — Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Hope and Crosby — but Martin and Lewis added something to the mix. They were sexy, for starters (well, one of them anyway), as well as sexed up. (Jerry liked to plant kisses on Dean.) And they were overtly ethnic: the suave Italian-American and the jittery Jewish American who, with a sprinkling of Yiddish, seduced mainstream America. By 1950 the dream team was so popular thousands of screaming fans waited outside their Times Square hotel, a scene that’s self-reflexively captured in their 1953 musical comedy, “The Stooge.” ...