Henry Miller once said, "A clown is a poet in action."
Everyone loves a clown. One of the world's favorite comics, Jerry Lewis (1926-2017) was born Joseph Levitch on this day in Newark, New Jersey. His parents were vaudeville performers.
"If you create an atmosphere of fun you will get great work," Lewis once said.
In 1946, he teamed with singer Dean Martin and became an international sensation. The duo starred in 16 successful films and were the world's top box-office earners when they broke up in 1956. Lewis described the partnership as "the organ grinder and the monkey."
Versatile, talented, and unique, Lewis tirelessly raised an estimated $2 billion from 1965 to 2011 for Muscular Dystrophy, an organization that works to combat over 40 neuromuscular diseases. His 21.5-hour MDA telethon were a Labor Day tradition.
"It is more important to focus on what people with disabilities can do, rather than what they can't," said Lewis who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for his work with MDA.
A favorite of the French, he was presented the French Legion of Honor in 1984. "Even if the French people cannot hear my language, they have always heard my heart," he said.
What was the secret to his success? Maybe his goofy abandonment. "Always play the nine-year-old kid and always hold onto that innocence," he said.
Whatever the hardship, whatever the challenge, Lewis maintained the heart of a nine-year old and continued to pursue his passion, bringing joy and laughter to generations throughout the world.
Release the laughter in your heart.