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Jerry Lewis to Receive Hersholt Humanitarian Award at 81st Academy Awards®


Beverly Hills, CA — Actor, director, writer and producer Jerry Lewis has been voted the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Academy President Sid Ganis announced today. The award, an Oscar® statuette, will be presented to Lewis during the 81st Academy Awards ceremony on February 22, 2009.

The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award is given to an individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.

“Jerry is a legendary comedian who has not only brought laughter to millions around the world,” said Ganis, “but has also helped thousands upon thousands by raising funds and awareness for those suffering from muscular dystrophy.”

Lewis began making local and national televised appeals on behalf of the newly founded Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) in the early 1950s. He has been the organization’s national chairman since 1952 and has served as the “number one volunteer” of the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon since 1966, raising more than $2 billion for the cause.

Born in 1926 in Newark, New Jersey, Lewis first found fame as part of a groundbreaking nightclub act with his partner, Dean Martin. The comedy team of Martin and Lewis made their screen debut in “My Friend Irma” (1949) and starred in 16 films together through 1956. Lewis went on to star in more than two dozen films, including “The Bellboy” (1960), “The Ladies’ Man” (1961), “The Nutty Professor” (1963), “The Disorderly Orderly (1964), “The Family Jewels” (1965) and “The King of Comedy” (1983). A series of lectures on filmmaking that Lewis delivered as an adjunct professor at USC was published as The Total Film-Maker in 1971.

The 81st Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, January 22, 2009, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be presented on Sunday, February 22, 2009, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Editors: Downloadable images are available at

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards – in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners – the Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; provides financial support to a wide range of other movie-related organizations and endeavors; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.


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