On April 12, 2014, Jerry Lewis' hand and footprints made their permanent mark in cement at the historic Grauman's Chinese courtyard (now known as TCL Chinese). It was a moment in Hollywood history that I was very happy to witness in person. Below is my account of the event as well as a mix of press photos (labeled as such) and my own photos.
TCM's Robert Osborne gave a speech to kick off the ceremony. According to Osborne, Jerry Lewis first went on stage at the age of 5 and at the age of 20 he was partnering with Dean Martin in "one of the great duo acts in show business." He likens Lewis to Chaplin; two famous comedians who did it all: act, direct, produce and write. Lewis' performance in The King of Comedy (1983) received high praise from Osborne who thought Lewis deserved the Oscar for "one of the greatest performances ever on film". Osborne also shared with us his memory of seeing Jerry Lewis on Broadway in a production of Damn Yankees and says of Lewis' performance: "it was so disciplined, so funny, so right." Osborne calls Jerry Lewis "an incredible, incredible man… [who] is also a very dedicated and tireless philanthropist."
Osborne introduced director Quentin Tarantino, who happens to be a very close friend of Jerry Lewis. Tarantino gave a short and very personal speech. He turns 50 this year and spent some time thinking about his childhood. When Tarantino was in elementary school a mom's favorite movie star might be Barbra Streisand or Clint Eastwood and a dad's favorite might be Jeff Chandler (?) or Burt Lancaster. But for every girl and boy in his elementary school they "only had one favorite movie star… Jerry Lewis." Tarantino proclaimed, "he was the children's movie star… kids really responded to Jerry Lewis." He made a really interesting point about Lewis' influence on an audience of children that spans six or seven generations. These children grew up watching Jerry Lewis. His films would be on TV at times they were home (Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons). Kids would try to recreate Lewis' antics and grew up to have happy memories of being entertained by the great comedian. Tarantino called Lewis "a real treasure" and "one of the great actor/directors in the history of cinema."
And then came Jerry Lewis!
Lewis came out to hoots and hollers and a roaring applause. He thanked the audience then said,
"It's so nice though that you're all here. It's so wonderful. After this we're going to my house for coffee."
If only! Lewis didn't give a speech but spent a little time entertaining the crowd with his jokes, his "grumpiness" and his antics. He playfully gave the crowd the middle finger on a couple of occasions. Lewis said to one of the staff members who was working the event "are you going to stand there? You're blocking all of my friends?" Of the crowd he said, "what a motley looking group my God!". He even flirted with someone asking "are you going right to the hotel?"
It was very touching when Jerry Lewis took a moment to mention his daughter Danielle Lewis who was in the audience with her mother, Lewis' second wife SanDee Pitnick. "This is an incredible time for me. I have never had an experience like this have my daughter present. It's the first time I ever asked her to join me." Danielle is Lewis' only daughter. He has six sons from a previous marriage.
After signing his name in the cement and making his hand and footprints, Jerry Lewis had some fun hamming it up for the crowd. He grabbed a camera and started taking photos of all the press photographs.
Jerry Lewis then posed for pictures with Quentin Tarantino, Robert Osborne, Ben Mankiewicz, Illeana Douglas, comedians Richard Lewis and Dane Cook and his wife and daughter. At one point he even bit Quentin Tarantino's hand.
Here is a short video I took of Jerry Lewis making his footprints in cement. Keep the volume low because there is plenty of hollering and applause!
I asked one of the security guards if I could take a picture of the hand and footprints. And here they are, freshly made! It was such an honor to be at this amazing ceremony and to celebrate Jerry Lewis.
|Press Photo (Getty)|
Quentin Tarantino graciously came to greet the crowd. He didn't want to take pictures with fans or sign autographs but was willing to shake hands. I shook Tarantino's hand and by sheer luck the Getty Images photographer snapped a photo of this exact moment!
If you squint you can see me in the far left hand side.
This was an event I will never forget! I'm glad I was able to share it with my husband Carlos and with friends Jessica of Comet Over Hollywood, K.C. of A Classic Movie Blog and Dan of Celebrity Cafe.