Carnegie Mellon University

Kathy M. Newman

August 20, 2017

CMU's Kathy M. Newman Reflects on Jerry Lewis

Comedian and Filmmaker Jerry Lewis has died at age 91.

Carnegie Mellon University's Kathy M. Newman, a popular and mass culture expert primarily interested in the relationship between television, film, radio and print media and social and political formations, reflects on his legacy.

"If you were born in the 1960s or later you might think of Jerry Lewis primarily as the star who lent his name to the Muscular Dystrophy telethon for many decades," said Newman, associate professor of English. "You might also know him as the original 'Nutty Professor,' in the eponymous film of 1963. But Lewis, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, born the same year as JFK (1917), epitomized the urban, working class and lowbrow humor that dominated film and television in the 1950s and 1960s. This goofy, slapstick and sometimes subversive style of humor is evidence of the importance of urban, ethnic and working class culture to the American mid-century, the time when, supposedly, everyone moved to the suburbs, got white picket fences and became middle class."

Professor Newman is available for phone, Skype or on-camera interviews to share more on these topics. Contact Shilo Rea at 412-268-6094.