In what would be his final interview with PEOPLE, Jerry Lewis opened up about his life, his art and what he still had left to accomplish.
Last September, Lewis said, “You don’t think of your age when you’re working and doing what you love, but in reality, I’m running out of time, so I have a lot of stuff to do in not a lot of time.”
The comedy icon, whose manic style amused generations of fans died on Sunday, his agent confirmed to EW. He was 91.
Las Vegas Review Journal columnist John Katsilometes confirmed the news on Twitter on Sunday, writing that Lewis’ rep told him in a statement that he died at 9:15 a.m. on Sunday morning in his home in Las Vegas.
Despite his age and mounting health problems, Lewis said last year that he never stopped doing what he loved. “I never stop working,” he explained. “You always have your hand in it somewhere. I’m always thinking about future projects and at the same time trying to finish the project you’re in the middle off.”
Still, after performing for over 80 years, Lewis admitted his age had become an obstacle. “You do feel limited … I can’t take a fall now like I did when I was 20,” he explained. “You think about getting old, but when you get there it’s not what you thought it would be. The thing I think disturbs me more than anything is I can’t take those falls anymore. That disturbs me, but at 90 you don’t fall – at least you don’t mean to fall,” he quipped.
One thing that never changes, Lewis added, is the excitement of being in front of the camera. “That never stops. That’s what drives you: the joy and excitement of doing what you love,” he said.
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Looking back on his career, Lewis said the one project he’s still most proud of is 1963’s The Nutty Professor. “It was a love affair from the minute I started to write it,” he said. “And when you fall in love with something, you’re doing you make it far better than it is.”
He also opened up about his life outside of work, speaking about his wife SanDee Pitnick, whom he married in 1983. “We’ve had 38 years and she’s my right arm, left arm, both legs, head lips and eyes. She’s one of those things people get lucky with,” he said.
And after a career spanning eight decades, when asked what his greatest accomplishment was, Lewis said, “It’s always family.”