Health scare pre-Friars Club event lands Jerry Lewis in N.Y. hospital

Jerry Lewis receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nevada Broadcasters Association at Red Rock Resort on Aug. 20, 2011.
Photo: Scott Harrison/Retna/

By John Katsilometes

Say this for Jerry Lewis: He still has a flair for the dramatic.

Lewis felt dizzy shortly before he was to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Friars Club at the Waldorf Astoria in New York and just before he was to present Tom Cruise with the club’s Entertainment Icon Award.

Lewis was taken from the hotel to a nearby hospital, where he is under observation. He is scheduled to be released this afternoon, around 3 p.m. ET, says spokeswoman Candi Cazau.

The 86-year-old Lewis has long suffered from diabetes and when he travels often forgets to “replenish the tank,” said Cazau.

“He started feeling weak a couple of hours before the show, and it happens because he keeps forgetting to eat and drink,” Cazau said this morning in a phone conversation. “He didn’t really collapse, but he felt very weak and was taken to the hospital as a precaution and kept overnight.”

Lewis has suffered similar health concerns while traveling, most recently when he was too weak to take part in a Muscular Dystrophy Foundation event in Sydney, Australia, last June.

Lewis was to receive the Friars Club’s Applause Award for his long career in comedic entertainment and also to summon Cruise to the stage. In a New York Post account of the show, Cruise accepted his award by saying, “I am sorry Jerry couldn't be here tonight, but I know he is going to be fine."

Jerry Lewis' Lifetime Achievement Award

Performers at the event, emceed by Alec Baldwin, included Bill Hader, Cuba Gooding Jr., Bebel Gilberto, Corinne Bailey Rae, Robin Thicke and the cast of Broadway's “Rock of Ages,” which is set to open here at the Venetian.

Lewis also is in New York for rehearsals of his “Nutty Professor” opening July 24 at James K. Polk Theater at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville.

The plan is to give the production a healthy ride in Nashville, from July 24-Aug. 19, and build toward a run on Broadway.

Just 10 days before he is to appear in Nashville for that major theatrical event, Lewis has a date locked in to perform at Buffalo Bill’s Star of the Desert Arena. The hope is that he will be well rested and ready for the July 14 show.

“He’s fine,” Cazau said. “He just has these little episodes.”

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