Jerry Lewis

Biography

Jerry Lewis (born Joseph Levitch; March 16, 1926) is an American comedian, actor, singer, film producer, screenwriter and film director. He is best known for his slapstick humor in film, television, stage and radio. He was originally paired up with Dean Martin in 1946, forming the famed comedy team of Martin and Lewis. In addition to the duo's popular nightclub work, they starred in a successful series of comedy films for Paramount Pictures. Lewis is also known for his charity fund-raising telethons and position as national chairman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). Lewis has won several awards for lifetime achievements from The American Comedy Awards, The Golden Camera, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and The Venice Film Festival, and he has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2005, he received the Governors Award of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Board of Governors, which is the highest Emmy Award presented. On February 22, 2009, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Lewis the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Early life He was born Joseph Levitch (some sources say Jerome Levitch) in Newark, New Jersey, to Russian Jewish parents. His father, Daniel Levitch, was a Master of Ceremonies and vaudeville entertainer who used the professional name Danny Lewis, His mother, Rachel ("Rae") Levitch (née Brodsky), was a piano player for a radio station. Lewis started performing at age five and would often perform alongside his parents in the Catskill Mountains in New York State. By fifteen he had developed his "Record Act", in which he exaggeratedly mimed the lyrics to songs on a phonograph. He used the professional name Joey Lewis, but soon changed it to Jerry Lewis to avoid confusion with comedian Joe E. Lewis and heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis. He graduated from Irvington High School in Irvington, New Jersey. During World War II he was rejected for military service because of a heart murmur. Career Teaming with Dean Martin Lewis initially gained fame with singer Dean Martin, who served as straight man to Lewis's zany antics in the Martin and Lewis comedy team. They distinguished themselves from the majority of comedy acts of the 1940s by relying on the interaction of the two comics instead of planned skits. In the late 1940s, they quickly rose to national prominence, first with their popular nightclub act, next as stars of their own radio program. They then made appearances on early live television, debuting first on the June 20, 1948 debut broadcast of Toast of the Town with Ed Sullivan on the CBS TV Network (later the Ed Sullivan Show), followed on October 3, 1948 by an appearance on the NBC TV series Welcome Aboard, then as the first of a series of hosts of The Colgate Comedy Hour in 1950. They began their Paramount film careers in 1949 as ensemble players in My Friend Irma, based on the popular radio series of the same name. This was followed by a sequel in 1950, My Friend Irma Goes West. Starting with At War with the Army (1950), Martin and Lewis were the stars of their own vehicles, in fourteen additional titles at Paramount. Final was Hollywood or Bust (1956). All sixteen were produced by Hal Wallis. However, as Martin's roles in their films became less important, the partnership became strained. Martin's diminished participation became an embarrassment in 1954, when Look magazine used a publicity photo of the team for the magazine cover, but cropped Martin out of the photo. The partnership finally ended on July 24, 1956. Attesting the team's popularity, DC Comics published the best-selling The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comic books from 1952 to 1957. The series continued a year after the team broke up as DC Comics then featured Lewis solo, until 1971, in The Adventures of Jerry Lewis comic books. In this latter series, Lewis was sometimes featured with Superman, Batman, and various other DC Comics heroes and villains. It inspired the Filmation cartoons production company to make, in 1970, a series called Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down, with Jerry as the one character inspired by reality, beside other fictitious characters, including Jerry's fictitious relatives. Both Martin and Lewis went on to successful solo careers, but for years neither would comment on the split, nor consider a reunion. They made at least a couple of public appearances together between the breakup and 1961, but then were not seen together in public until a surprise appearance by Martin on Lewis's Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Telethon in 1976, arranged by Frank Sinatra. The pair eventually reconciled in the late 1980s after the death of Martin's son, Dean Paul Martin. The two men were seen together on stage in Las Vegas when Lewis pushed out Dean's birthday cake and sang "Happy Birthday" to him. In Lewis's 2005 book Dean and Me (A Love Story), Lewis wrote of his kinship with Martin, who died in 1995. Solo achievements After the split from Martin, Lewis remained at Paramount and became a major comedy star with his first film as a solo comic, The Delicate Delinquent (1957). Teaming with director Frank Tashlin, whose background as a Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon director suited Lewis's brand of humor, he starred in five more films, and even appeared uncredited as Itchy McRabbitt in Li'l Abner (1959). Lewis tried his hand at releasing an album in the 1950s, having a chart hit with the song "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody" (a song largely associated with Al Jolson and later re-popularized by Judy Garland) as well as the song, "It All Depends on You" in 1958. He eventually released his own album titled, Jerry Lewis Just Sings. By the end of his contract with producer Hal B. Wallis, Lewis had several productions of his own under his belt. His first three efforts, The Delicate Delinquent (1957), Rock-A-Bye Baby (1958) and The Geisha Boy (1958), were all efforts to move away from Wallis, who Lewis felt was hindering his comedy.[citation needed] In 1960, Lewis finished his contract with Wallis with Visit to a Small Planet (1960), and wrapped up work on his own production, Cinderfella. Cinderfella was postponed for a Christmas 1960 release, and Paramount, needing a quickie feature film for its summer 1960 schedule, held Lewis to his contract to produce one. Lewis came up with The Bellboy. Using the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami as his setting—and on a small budget, with a very tight shooting schedule, and no script—Lewis shot the film by day and performed at the hotel in the evenings. Bill Richmond collaborated with him on the many sight gags. In a 2005 interview, Lewis revealed that Paramount were not happy financing a 'silent movie' and withdrew backing. Lewis used his own funds to cover the $950,000 budget. During production Lewis developed the technique of using video cameras and multiple closed circuit monitors, which allowed him to review his performance instantly. His techniques and methods, documented in his book and his USC class, enabled him to complete most of his films on time and under budget. Later, he incorporated videotape, and as more portable and affordable equipment became available, this technique would become an industry standard known as video assist. Lewis followed The Bellboy by directing several more films which he co-wrote with Richmond, including The Ladies Man (1961), The Errand Boy (1961), The Patsy (1964) and the well-known comedy hit, The Nutty Professor (1963), which was later successfully remade as a vehicle for Eddie Murphy in 1996 and followed by a sequel in 2000, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps both executive produced by Lewis for Universal Pictures and Image Entertainment. Lewis occasionally handed directing reins to Frank Tashlin, who directed several of his productions, including It's Only Money (1962) and Who's Minding the Store? (1963). In 1965, Lewis directed and (along with Bill Richmond) wrote the comedy film The Family Jewels about a young heiress who must choose among six uncles, one of whom is up to no good and out to harm the girl's beloved bodyguard who practically raised her. Lewis played all six uncles and the bodyguard. By 1966, Lewis, now 40, was no longer an angular juvenile and his routines seemed more labored. His box office appeal waned to the point where Paramount Pictures new executives felt no further need for the Lewis comedies. Undaunted, Lewis packed up and went to Columbia Pictures, where he made several more comedies. Lewis taught a film directing class at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles for a number of years; his students included Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. In 1968, he screened Spielberg's early film, Amblin' and told his students, "That's what filmmaking is all about." Lewis starred in and directed the unreleased The Day the Clown Cried in 1972. The film was a drama set in a Nazi concentration camp. Lewis rarely discusses the experience, but once explained why the film has not been released, by suggesting litigation over post-production financial difficulties. However, he admitted during his book tour for Dean and Me that a major factor for the film's burial is that he is not proud of the effort. Lewis also appeared in stage musicals. In 1976, he appeared in a revival of Hellzapoppin' with Lynn Redgrave, but it closed on the road before reaching Broadway. In 1994, he made his Broadway debut, as a replacement cast member playing the Devil in a revival of the baseball musical, Damn Yankees, choreographed by future film director Rob Marshall (Chicago). Lewis returned to the screen in 1981 with Hardly Working, a film he both directed and starred in. Despite being panned by the critics, the film did eventually earn $50 million. He followed this up with a critically acclaimed performance in Martin Scorsese's 1983 film, The King of Comedy, in which Lewis plays a late-night TV host plagued by obsessive fans (played by Robert De Niro and Sandra Bernhard). The role had been based on and originally offered to Johnny Carson. Lewis continued doing work in small films in the 1990s, most notably his supporting roles in 1994's Arizona Dream and 1995's Funny Bones. He appeared on television on one episode of Mad About You's first season in 1992, playing an eccentric billionaire. In 2008, Lewis reprised his role as Prof. Kelp in The Nutty Professor, his first CGI animated film and sequel to his original 1963 film co-starring Drake Bell as the voice of his nephew, Harold Kelp. On television, Lewis starred in three different programs called The Jerry Lewis Show. The first was a two-hour Saturday night variety show on ABC in the fall of 1963. The lavish, big-budget production failed to find an audience and was canceled after 13 weeks. His next show was a one-hour variety show on NBC in 1967-69. A test of a syndicated talk show for Metromedia in 1984 was not continued beyond the scheduled five shows. Lewis and his popular movie characters were animated in the Filmation cartoon series, Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down. First aired on ABC in 1970, it lasted only one season and eighteen episodes. The show starred David Lander (Laverne & Shirley) as the voice of the animated Lewis character. Lewis has long remained popular in Europe: he was consistently praised by some French critics in the influential magazine Cahiers du Cinéma for his absurd comedy, in part because he had gained respect as an auteur who had total control over all aspects of his films, comparable to Howard Hawks and Alfred Hitchcock. In March 2006, the French Minister of Culture awarded Lewis the Légion d'honneur, calling him the "French people's favorite clown". Liking Lewis has long been a common stereotype about the French in the minds of many English-speakers, and is often the object of jokes in Anglosphere pop culture. In 1994, the Columbia Pictures film, North featured footage of Lewis's classic movies. In June 2006, Lewis first announced plans to write and direct a stage musical adaptation of his 1963 film, The Nutty Professor. In October 2008, in an interview on Melbourne radio, Lewis said he had signed composers Marvin Hamlisch and Rupert Holmes to write the show for a Broadway opening in November 2010. In 2009, Lewis traveled to the Cannes Film Festival to announce his return to cinema after a 13 year absence for the film Max Rose, his first leading role since Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy. In early 2011, Lewis signed a deal with Artificial Intelligence Entertainment and Capital Films to remake three of his 1960s films: The Bellboy, Cinderfella and The Family Jewels, with Lewis serving as co-executive producer of the new films. On May 16, 2011, the MDA announced that the 2011 edition of its annual telethon would be Lewis' last as emcee. After hosting the annual event since 1954, he was to continue serving as the association's national chairman. Soon afterward, however, Lewis denied that he was leaving the telethon at all, but on August 3, 2011, the MDA announced that Lewis resigned as chairman and telethon host, the circumstances leading to his resignation unknown. Lewis made no appearance, live or recorded, on the 2011 MDA Telethon. Film portrayal Lewis was portrayed by Emmy Award winner Sean Hayes (Will and Grace) in the 2002 made for television movie Martin and Lewis. The film depicts Lewis' partnership with Dean Martin (played by Jeremy Northam). Hayes met Lewis during shooting of the televised film and went on to receive a Screen Actors Guild Award for best actor. Source: Wikipedia

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Person Photo

Birth Name

Jerry Lewis

Birth Place

Newark, Nueva Jersey, Estados Unidos

Birth Date

3/16/1926

Death Date

8/20/2017
Known For
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The Nutty Professor

Professor Julius Kelp/Buddy Love/Baby Kelp

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The King of Comedy

Jerry Langford

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Cinderfella

Cinderfella

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Arizona Dream

Leo Sweetie

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The Errand Boy

Morty S. Tashman

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The Ladies Man

Herbert H. Heebert / Mama Heebert

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The Disorderly Orderly

Jerome Littlefield

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The Family Jewels

Willard Woodward / James Peyton / Everett Peyton / Julius Peyton / Capt. Eddie Peyton / Skylock Peyton / 'Bugs' Peyton

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The Patsy

Stanley Belt / Singers of the Trio

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Artists and Models

Eugene Fullstack

Starring In
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Dream Girl: The Making of Marilyn Monroe

Self (archive footage)

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Louis de Funès, champion du box office

Self (archive footage)

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King of Cool

Self (voice)

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What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael

(archive footage)

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Die vielen Leben des Sammy Davis Jr.

Self

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The Trust

Jim's Father

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Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind the Clown

Self

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And the Oscar Goes To...

Himself (archive footage)

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Até Que a Sorte nos Separe 2

Bellboy

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The Trials of Muhammad Ali

Self (archive footage)

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Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis

Himself

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El Gordo y el Flaco: Sus vidas y su magia

Self (archive footage)

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Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey

Stationmaster (voice)

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The Nutty Professor

Julius Kelp / Buddy Love (voice)

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The Rat Pack

Himself

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Los Angeles Plays Itself

Jerome Littlefield in The Disorderly Orderly (archive footage) (uncredited)

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Cher: The Farewell Tour

Himself (archive footage)

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Edith Head: The Paramount Years

(archive footage)

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All the Love You Cannes!

Himself

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Keeper of Souls

Bartender 2

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Off the Menu - The Last Days of Chasen's

Himself (with Dean Martin) (archive footage) (uncredited)

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Theremin - An Electronic Odyssey

Actor in 'The Delicate Delinquent' Clip (archive footage) (uncredited)

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Arizona Dream

Leo Sweetie

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Mr. Saturday Night

Jerry Lewis

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Sammy Davis, Jr. 60th Anniversary Celebration

Himself

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Cookie

Arnold Ross

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Wiseguy - Prey for the City Arc (Season 2 Part 1)

Eli Sternberg (5 episodes, 1988-1989)

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Wiseguy - Sonny Steelgrave and the Mob Arc (Season 1 Part 1)

Eli Sternberg (5 episodes, 1988-1989)

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Fight for Life

Dr. Bernard Abrams

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Comic Relief

Self

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Terror in the Aisles

Myron Mertz (in 'Scared Stiff') (archive footage) (uncredited)

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How Did You Get In? We Didn't See You Leave

Clovis Blaireau

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Der Total Beknackte Cop

Jerry Logan

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As Loucuras de Jerry Lewis

Warren Nefron / Dr. Perks / Gangster / Speed Armeter

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The King of Comedy

Jerry Langford

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Slapstick

Wilbur Swain/Caleb Swain

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Hardly Working

Bo Hooper

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One More Time

Bandleader (voice) (uncredited)

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Which Way to the Front?

Brendan Byers III

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Hook, Line and Sinker

Peter J. Ingersoll / Fred Dobbs

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Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River

George Lester

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The Big Mouth

Gerald Clamson / Syd Valentine

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Way... Way Out

Pete Mattemore

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Three on a Couch

Christopher Pride / Warren / Ringo / Rutherford / Heather

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Boeing, Boeing

Robert Reed

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The Family Jewels

Willard Woodward / James Peyton / Everett Peyton / Julius Peyton / Capt. Eddie Peyton / Skylock Peyton / 'Bugs' Peyton

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The Patsy

Stanley Belt / Singers of the Trio

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The Disorderly Orderly

Jerome Littlefield

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Who's Minding the Store?

Norman Phiffier

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The Nutty Professor

Professor Julius Kelp/Buddy Love/Baby Kelp

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The Errand Boy

Morty S. Tashman

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The Ladies Man

Herbert H. Heebert / Mama Heebert

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Cinderfella

Cinderfella

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Visit to a Small Planet

Kreton

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The Bellboy

Stanley / Himself

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L'il Abner (Digitally Remastered)

Itchy McRabbit (uncredited)

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Don't Give Up the Ship

John Paul Steckler I / John Paul Steckler IV / John Paul Steckler VII

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Geisha Boy

Gilbert Wooley

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Rock-a-Bye Baby

Clayton Poole

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The Delicate Delinquent

Sidney L. Pythias

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The Sad Sack

Private Meredith C. Bixby

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Hollywood or Bust

Malcolm Smith

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Pardners

Wade Kingsley Jr. / Wade Kingsley Sr.

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You're Never Too Young

Wilbur Hoolick

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Artists and Models

Eugene Fullstack

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Living It Up

Homer Flagg

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The Caddy

Harvey Miller, Jr

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Scared Stiff

Myron Mertz

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Money From Home

Virgil Yokum

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Road to Bali

Woman in Lala's Dream (uncredited)

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Sailor Beware

Melvin Jones

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The Stooge

Theodore 'Ted' Rogers

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Jumping Jacks

Hap Smith

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That's My Boy

'Junior' Jackson

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At War With the Army

Pfc. Alvin Korwin

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My Friend Irma Goes West

Seymour

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My Friend Irma

Seymour

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Dying Laughing

Himself

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