Jerry Lewis collapses backstage in London
A week ago, Jerry Lewis, looking swollen from steroid-based medication he’s been taking to combat pulmonary fibrosis, raised a record $58.3 million in his annual Muscular Dystrophy telethon. But at another charity event on Sunday in London, Lewis couldn’t go on. The 76-year-old comic collapsed backstage at the London Palladium, and audiences at the ”High on Laughter” benefit, a fundraiser for an alcohol rehab program, were told Lewis was unwell.
”I saw him collapse backstage out of the corner of my eye,” emcee Stephen Allan Green told the Associated Press. “He was watching the screen clips of an earlier show of his behind the stage when he just sat back. I hope it’s nothing too serious.” Later, on Monday, Green and co-producer Tamsin Hollo issued a statement, saying of Lewis, ”We are grateful it was not necessary for him to go to hospital and he is currently resting comfortably at his London residence.” Lewis’ wife SanDee told the AP, ”He has not taken ill. There is no change in his condition.”
In addition to his respiratory ailment, Lewis suffers from diabetes and had a bout with spinal meningitis two years ago. Until recently, his back pain was so severe that he could barely walk. In an interview published Monday in London’s Daily Mirror, Lewis is quoted as saying, ”In April it got so bad that it forced me to get a gun and seriously think about putting it in my mouth.” However, that month, he was fitted with an implant that sends electrical impulses to his spine that stop the pain.
Recently, Lewis has also been helping out ”Will & Grace”’s Sean Hayes, who is playing the young Lewis in a CBS biopic airing in November, sending him archival material from the days of his legendary partnership with Dean Martin.