1926 - Lewis was born into a vaudeville family on March 16th in Newark, New Jersey. An American comedian whose unrestrained comic style made him one of the most popular performers of the 1950s and '60s.
1938 - At age 12, he developed a comedy act in which he mimed to records. He dropped out of high school in order to perform his speciality in New York City theatres, burlesque shows, and nightclubs.
1944 - He first met singer Dean Martin, and two years later they officially became a performing team.
1949-1950 - Their first film, "My Friend Irma", established Martin and Lewis as box office stars, and the follow-ups "My Friend Irma Goes West" and "At War with the Army" were equally successful.
1953-1956 - Martin and Lewis became the most popular comedy team of the decade and appeared in 16 films in eight years, including "Scared Stiff", "Living It Up", "Artists and Models", and "Hollywood or Bust".
- After making "Pardners", Martin and Lewis had a much-publicized falling out and dissolved their partnership.
1957 - Lewis then began a series of solo comedies, starting with The Delicate Delinquent.
1960-1963 - Many of his pictures employed the formula of loose strings of gags and routines centred around Lewis's bungling character in a new job, such as the title character in "The Bellboy", a Hollywood messenger in "The Errand Boy", and a handyman at a girls' school in "The Ladies' Man". His comedy version of the Jekyll and Hyde story, "The Nutty Professor", opened to good reviews and is generally considered to be his best film.
1970-1972 - After "Which Way to the Front?", Lewis did not appear in another film for 11 years, though he did film the unreleased "The Day the Clown Cried".
1981 - Lewis returned to the screen with the episodic comedy "Hardly Working". However, most of the critical accolades he would receive in the next two decades would be for dramatic or offbeat performances.
1983-1995 - He essayed acclaimed supporting roles in Martin Scorsese's "The King of Comedy", in the dramatic television series "Wiseguy", and in the film "Funny Bones".
- A longtime cult figure in France, Lewis was awarded that country's Order of Arts and Letters and the Legion of Honour.
- A successful revival of the musical "Damn Yankees" gave Lewis his first taste of Broadway success.
Page last updated: 1:08am, 24th Feb '07