Legendary entertainer and philanthropist Jerry Lewis has died, after receiving awards from Paris, France, and all over the world, but not from the president of the United States. Why did we deny this icon the opportunity to smell the roses of his success while he lived?
I am writing this last letter on behalf of the millions of people with muscular dystrophy who received help from Jerry Lewis as well as the millions of people who enjoyed him for decades as a great entertainer. I also speak for the 750-plus people who signed the internet petition to have him receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award this term.
As an artist who has worked with the handicapped, I know too well how much it means to have assistance provided for those who are forgotten and who desperately need help. I remember watching Jerry’s telethons as a young child and telling my mother how great he was for helping so many.
I wrote President Obama in 2009, 2011 and 2012, nominating Jerry Lewis for this award. The president never even responded to my letters.
For more than 47 years, Jerry Lewis raised hundreds of millions of dollars to provide aid, medicine and equipment to people afflicted with this dreadful disease. He was an icon who inspired many to pursue their dreams while providing laughter and hope to many.
Lewis‘ movies are the type that children should be watching instead of the daily fare of sex, violence and innuendo they are fed. The recent documentary film on Encore called “The Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis” showed the depth of this great legend. In it, he was referred to as a “national treasure.” He was indeed.
Jerry Lewis has now passed on. We are writing about how great he was. I am also writing, this last time to say, “why did we deny him while he was here to see it?”
BARBARA JEAN DANNER
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