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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Jerry Lewis, the manic, rubber-faced showman who jumped and hollered to fame in a lucrative partnership with Dean Martin, settled down to become a self-conscious screen auteur and found an even greater following as the tireless, teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons, has died.
He was 91.
Publicist Candi Cazau says Lewis died Sunday of natural causes in Las Vegas with his family by his side.
Tributes from friends, co-stars and disciples poured in immediately.
"That fool was no dummy. Jerry Lewis was an undeniable genius an unfathomable blessing, comedy's absolute!" Jim Carrey wrote Sunday on Twitter. "I am because he was!"
Comedian Dane Cook considered Lewis to be a mentor.
"The world has lost a true innovator & icon," Cook wrote.
Lewis' career spanned the history of show business in the 20th century, beginning in his parents' vaudeville act at the age of 5. He was just 20 when his pairing with Martin made them international stars. He went on to make such favorites as "The Bellboy" and "The Nutty Professor," was featured in Martin Scorsese's "The King of Comedy" and appeared as himself in Billy Crystal's "Mr. Saturday Night."
"Jerry was a pioneer in comedy and film. And he was a friend. I was fortunate to have seen him a few times over the past couple of years. Even at 91, he didn't miss a beat. Or a punchline," Lewis' "The King of Comedy" co-star Robert De Niro said in a statement.
In the 1990s, he scored a stage comeback as the devil in the Broadway revival of "Damn Yankees."
In his 80s, he was still traveling the world, working on a stage version of "The Nutty Professor." He was so active he would sometimes forget the basics, like eating, his associates would recall. In 2012, Lewis missed an awards ceremony thrown by his beloved Friars Club because his blood sugar dropped from lack of food and he had to spend the night in the hospital.
A major influence on Carrey and other slapstick performers, Lewis also was known as the ringmaster of the Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Association, joking and reminiscing and introducing guests, sharing stories about ailing kids and concluding with his personal anthem, the ballad "You'll Never Walk Alone." From the 1960s onward, the telethons raised some $1.5 billion, including more than $60 million in 2009. He announced in 2011 that he would step down as host, but would remain chairman of the association he joined some 60 years ago.
"Though we will miss him beyond measure, we suspect that somewhere in heaven, he's already urging the angels to give 'just one dollar more for my kids,'" said MDA Chairman of the Board R. Rodney Howell on Sunday.
His fundraising efforts won him the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 2009 Oscar telecast, an honor he said "touches my heart and the very depth of my soul." But the telethon was also criticized for being mawkish and exploitative of children, known as "Jerry's Kids." A 1960s muscular dystrophy poster boy, Mike Ervin, later made a documentary called "The Kids Are All Alright," in which he alleged that Lewis and the Muscular Dystrophy Association had treated him and others as objects of pity rather than real people.
"He and his telethon symbolize an antiquated and destructive 1950s charity mentality," Ervin wrote in 2009.
Responded Lewis: "You don't want to be pitied because you're a cripple in a wheelchair, stay in your house!"
He was the classic funnyman who longed to play "Hamlet," crying as hard as he laughed. He sassed and snarled at critics and interviewers who displeased him. He pontificated on talk shows, lectured to college students and compiled his thoughts in the 1971 book "The Total Film-Maker."
"I believe, in my own way, that I say something on film. I'm getting to those who probably don't have the mentality to understand what ... 'A Man for All Seasons' is all about, plus many who did understand it," he wrote. "I am not ashamed or embarrassed at how seemingly trite or saccharine something in my films will sound. I really do make films for my great-great-grandchildren and not for my fellows at the Screen Directors Guild or for the critics."
In his early movies, he played the kind of fellows who would have had no idea what the elder Lewis was talking about: loose-limbed, buck-toothed, overgrown adolescents, trouble-prone and inclined to wail when beset by enemies. American critics recognized the comedian's popular appeal but not his aspirations to higher art; the French did. Writing in Paris' Le Monde newspaper, Jacques Siclier praised Lewis' "apish allure, his conduct of a child, his grimaces, his contortions, his maladjustment to the world, his morbid fear of women, his way of disturbing order everywhere he appeared."
The French government awarded Lewis the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1983 and Commander of Arts and Letters the following year.
The late Associated Press writer Bob Thomas in Los Angeles and AP National Writer Hillel Italie in New York contributed to this report.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Glen Campbell, the grinning, high-pitched entertainer whose dozens of hit singles included “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Wichita Lineman” and whose appeal spanned country, pop, television and movies, died Tuesday, his family said. He was 81.
Campbell’s family said the singer died Tuesday morning in Nashville and publicist Sandy Brokaw confirmed the news. No cause was immediately given. Campbell announced in June 2011 that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and that it was in its early stages at that time.
In the late 1960s and well into the ’70s, the Arkansas native seemed to be everywhere, known by his boyish face, wavy hair and friendly tenor. He won five Grammys, sold more than 45 million records, had 12 gold albums and 75 chart hits, including No. 1 songs with “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Southern Nights.”
His performance of the title song from “True Grit,” a 1969 release in which he played a Texas Ranger alongside Oscar winner John Wayne, received an Academy Award nomination. He twice won album of the year awards from the Academy of Country Music and was voted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Seven years later, he received a Grammy for lifetime achievement.
He was among a wave of country crossover stars that included Johnny Cash, Roy Clark and Kenny Rogers, and like many of his contemporaries, he enjoyed success on television. Campbell had a weekly audience of some 50 million people for the “Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour,” on CBS from 1969 to 1972. He gained new fans decades later when the show, featuring his cheerful greeting “Hi I’m Glen Campbell,” was rerun on cable channel CMT.
“I did what my Dad told me to do — ‘Be nice, son, and don’t cuss. And be nice to people.’ And that’s the way I handled myself, and people were very, very nice to me,” Campbell told The Telegraph in 2011.
He released more than 70 of his own albums, and in the 1990s recorded a series of gospel CDs. A 2011 farewell album, “Ghost On the Canvas,” included contributions from Jacob Dylan, Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick and Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins.
The documentary “Glen Campbell ... I’ll Be Me” came out in 2014. The film about Campbell’s 2011-12 farewell tour offers a poignant look at his decline from Alzheimer’s while showcasing his virtuoso guitar chops that somehow continued to shine as his mind unraveled. The song “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” won a Grammy for best country song in 2015 and was nominated for an Oscar for best original song.
Campbell’s musical career dated back to the early years of rock ’n roll. He toured with the Champs of “Tequila” fame when the group included two singers who formed the popular ’70s duo Seals & Crofts. He was part of the house band for the ABC TV show “Shindig!” and a member of Phil Spector’s “Wrecking Crew” studio band that played on hits by the Ronettes, the Righteous Brothers and the Crystals. He played guitar on Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers In the Night,” the Monkees’ “I’m a Believer” and Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas.”
“We’d get the rock ‘n’ roll guys and play all that, then we’d get Sinatra and Dean Martin,” Campbell told The Associated Press in 2011. “That was a kick. I really enjoyed that. I didn’t want to go nowhere. I was making more money than I ever made just doing studio work.”
A sharecropper’s son, and one of 12 children, he was born outside of Delight, Arkansas, and grew up revering country music stars such as Hank Williams.
“I’m not a country singer per se,” Campbell once said. “I’m a country boy who sings.”
He was just 4 when he learned to play guitar. As a teenager, anxious to escape a life of farm work and unpaid bills, he moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to join his uncle’s band and appear on his uncle’s radio show. By his early 20s, he had formed his own group, the Western Wranglers, and moved to Los Angeles. He opened for the Doors and sang and played bass with the Beach Boys as a replacement for Brian Wilson, who in the mid-‘60s had retired from touring to concentrate on studio work. In 1966, Campbell played on the Beach Boys’ classic “Pet Sounds” album.
“I didn’t go to Nashville because Nashville at that time seemed one-dimensional to me,” Campbell told the AP. “I’m a jazzer. I just love to get the guitar and play the hell out of it if I can.”
By the late ’60s, he was a performer on his own, an appearance on Joey Bishop’s show leading to his TV breakthrough. Tommy Smothers of the Smothers Brothers saw the program and asked Campbell if he’d like to host a summertime series, “The Summer Brothers Smothers Show.” Campbell shied from the Smothers Brothers’ political humor, but still accepted the offer. He was out of the country when the first episode aired.
“The whole lid just blew off,” Campbell told the AP. “I had never had anything like that happen to me. I got more phone calls. It was awesome. For the first couple of days I was like how do they know me? I didn’t realize the power of television.”
His guests included country acts, but also the Monkees, Lucille Ball, Cream, Neil Diamond and Ella Fitzgerald.
He was married four times and had eight children. As he would confide in painful detail, Campbell suffered for his fame and made others suffer as well. He drank heavily, used drugs and indulged in a turbulent relationship with country singer Tanya Tucker in the early 1980s.
He is survived by his wife, Kim; their three children, Cal, Shannon and Ashley; and his children from previous marriages, Debby, Kelli, Travis, Kane and Dillon. He had 10 grandchildren.
In late 2003, he was arrested near his home in Phoenix after causing a minor traffic accident. He later pleaded guilty to “extreme” DUI and leaving the scene of an accident and served a 10-day sentence.
Among Campbell’s own hits, “Rhinestone Cowboy” stood out and became his personal anthem. Written and recorded by Larry Weiss in 1974, “Rhinestone Cowboy” received little attention until Campbell heard it on the radio and quickly related to the story of a veteran performer who triumphs over despair and hardship. Campbell’s version was a chart topper in 1975.
“I thought it was my autobiography set to song,” he wrote 20 years later, in his autobiography, titled “Rhinestone Cowboy.”
Two people have been critically injured- with one of the injured being transported to a hospital at this post- from a house fire in far south Kansas City... The fire is reported to be in a residence in the 8600 block of East 116th Street- fire crews responded about 9:30 pm Saturday night.
At least 9 fire companies and several EMS units were sent to the scene. Two victims were reported by the battalion chief officer at 9:43 pm- with "CPR in progress" on one person. That victim was reported to be a female- and she was in very critical condition while enroute to Research Med Center via KCFD-EMS "Medic-30." This person reportedly died from their injuries Sunday morning.The second victim was reported to be an unknown-age male- his injuries were less critical and he was also taken to Research. The fire was reported under control around 9:55 pm..
According to BRANSON TRI-LAKES NEWS- "Communications Manager Jennifer Langford said at approximately 9:20 p.m. May 27, emergency personnel responded to a water rescue call.
“There were five people in a vehicle around Jupiter Way and Fall Creek Road,” Langford said.
Two people were able to get out, but three weren’t able to when flood waters overtook the vehicle.
The names haven’t been released.
Around 2 a.m. Sunday, a male, age 37, was found deceased near Cooper Creek. A female, age unknown, was found deceased at 7:48 a.m. near Lilleys’ Landing Resort and Marina.
One female remains unaccounted for, Langford said.
Emergency personnel have set up a command post near Cooper Creek and will be working with the Missouri State Highway Patrol Water Division to search for the unaccounted female, Langford said.
“We’ve combed all of Cooper Creek and we’re now going into (Lake) Taneycomo,” Langford said." Branson Police Chief Stan Dobbins said the bodies of 37-year-old Antonio Finley and 17-year-old Kaliea Munn were found early Sunday. Authorities were still looking for 31-year-old Whitney McDonald.
This from the NWS office in Springfield: At 929 PM CDT, emergency management reported widespread flooding in Branson with numerous water rescues occurring. Up to four inches of rain has already fallen with an additional one to two inches of rainfall likely.
This watch runs until 7 pm this Saturday evening. UPDATE- 1:40 pm- Metro Kansas City has been removed from this tornado watch. There does remain a chance for a few scattered showers and storms through sunset....
The alarm was dispatched to all Grandview Fire department units at 7:58 pm to an address in the 6500 block of East 155th Street which is also known as County Line Road. GFD units arriving about 5 minutes later report the structure "fully-involved" in fire.
Three reported occupants- which reportedly included a wheelchair-bound male- are as yet unaccounted for. As of 9 pm- GFD crews report finding the body of a male in the burned house. .....
On the prior weekend, I had spent that Sunday with a female companion at a pool party at a home of the companion's sister and brother-in-law on Delaware Street in the Baldwin Park area of PLEASANT HILL,MO, a suburban community of (then) around 2,500 people about 25 miles southeast of Downtown KC,MO..
I would unexpectedly return to PLEASANT HILL 3 days later and the next weekend, the party's hosts would be cleaning debris from that swimming pool.
Even without detailed weather information now available on the Internet, the author could sense the coming Danger from Weather by a glorious cirrus-filled sunset on May 3rd.
It had been a warm day on an outing at Lake Jacomo ... mid 70s ...with increasing surface winds of a southeasterly component, rapidly-falling barometer and rising dew points.
The sunrise of Wednesday, May 4, 1977 was mostly refracted light ... nimbostratus clouds racing northward ... warm ... around 70 degrees, humid with dew points approaching the air temperature and tropical depression-type south-southeasterly winds, gusting frequently in the 20 to 30 m.p.h. range.
Danger from Weather felt near.
It's my day off as a firefighter/EMT in the KC,MO. Fire Department. Around 11:30 a.m., I pick up a friend from her apartment just blocks south of tornado-famed Ruskin Heights to run some errands.
In LINN County KS, thunderstorms rapidly become severe as they approach southwestern CASS County, MO..
As the storms cross the state line, the first in a series of strong tornadoes over western Missouri that day touches down around 11:45 a.m. in a farm field about 5 miles southeast of DREXEL.
While sitting in the car in the parking lot of the Truman Corners shopping center in GRANDVIEW, I watched the dark-bottomed nimbo-type cloud cover racing northeastward - noting a general darkening of the cloud cover south-southwest.
I switched the AM radio from the country/news station (WDAF '61 Country') off station to "hear the lightning (static)." It's a crude but effective way to monitor nearby storm development (The old U.S. Weather Bureau had a "Sferics (static) Unit" in the early 1950's.).
Tornadic static sounds like a dozen people with big gravel-filled buckets randomly but constantly pouring the contents onto a tin roof.
Just as we are leaving the shopping center's parking lot, the tornado warning for CASS County is broadcast.
In mutual agreement - equipped only with a portable 4-channel radio scanner, a mobile Citizen's Band radio and a cheap, 35mm camera with 3 pictures left on the roll, we head south to try and intercept the storm.
The twister alternates from F-2 to F-3 intensity as it skipped perpendicular to state highway Missouri (M)-2, destroying and/or damaging more than a dozen homes and outbuildings. .
On U.S. 71 south of the city of BELTON and with light traffic, I decide to push the fire-engine red 1972 Cutlass a bit past the posted speed limit.
Even with the overcast, the darkening sky ahead foretold the storm's location.
South of PECULIAR, an outflow or gust front reveals itself, so I decide it best to pull onto the highway shoulder and allow it's passage.
The thunderstorm supercell with the semi-rain-wrapped tornado move over U.S. 71 just northwest of the county seat of HARRISONVILLE and skirts the north city limits of HARRISONVILLE toward Highway M-291.
On the south side of a rural road just west of M-291, the tornado strikes and heavily damages several homes, then crosses the highway and takes off the top of a barn.
In bright sunshine and with the darkness of the storm in the proper position ... to our left and ahead ... we exit U.S. 71 onto northbound M-291 in HARRISONVILLE.
At the north city limits, the cloud cover returns and ahead we see leaning utility poles, then the damaged homes and barn.
I pull east onto the rural road just long enough to photograph the barn and listen to some bewildered livestock bleating loudly.
The farmhouse- about 50 feet east of the barn- has only superficial damage.
With rescuers having already arrived at the damaged homes, we continued north on M-291.
A short distance north of the damage and even though we are behind the tornado itself, we run into torrential rain.
It is raining so hard I have to turn the AM radio up to almost full volume and
with the windshield wipers running full speed, a top speed of only 25 to 30 m.p.h. on the 50 m.p.h. highway seemed prudent.
The tornado continues on a more northeasterly track now, paralleling the north-south Highway M-7.
Now a well- established F-3 multi-vortex, it continued to roll over northeastern CASS County land, damaging and/or destroying farm homes and outbuildings as it neared the southwestern city limit of PLEASANT HILL.
On an anticipated mutual-aid response, several units from the Northwestern Cass Fire Protection District (now called "South Metro") station in RAYMORE stage on the eastbound lane of M-58 highway about a mile west of town.
As we arrive at the intersection of M-291 and M-58 highways, the torrential rain suddenly becomes a light shower - then ceases altogether. As we head east on M-58, we have yet to see so much as a rotating scud cloud, let alone a funnel. The tornado is no-doubt rain-wrapped, but was still well ahead of us. I was thinking now of the hosts of that previous weekend's pool party, for they were both employed by the town's school district. Both the scanning and CB radios were useless, I didn't even know if the tornado was still on the ground, let alone that PLEASANT HILL might be hit.
As we approached the hill into the Big Creek valley west of town, I noticed cars and a NWCFPD fire apparatus parked in the eastbound driving lane.
With no oncoming traffic, I hit the horn and swung out into the westbound lane to pass as one of the firefighters stood on the highway's center line frantically waving his arms trying to warn us of what we already knew was just ahead.
I slowed only a bit as we passed the group, scanning above the treeline as I slowed some more.
At that moment, we see a semi-sunlit mass of clouds swirling horizontally north to south just ahead and to the right, but STILL no discernible funnel.
We cautiously continue on a heading to interception at PLEASANT HILL.
Blowing away parts of homes here and outbuildings there, the tornado crossed the southern city limit of PLEASANT HILL at about 10 minutes after noon.
Moving more north-northeasterly now, the twister crossed Highway M-7 about a half-mile south-southeast of the downtown area and rode along a ridge to the east of M-7, heading for the PLEASANT HILL high and elementary schools.
At that instant- we had slowly entered the dark and foreboding PLEASANT HILL business district.
To this day, my impression was that we had just entered an episode of the 'Twilight Zone.' It was dark ... no lights whatsoever ... and no movement of anyone or anything on M-58 or surrounding streets.
The cloud swirl was over the buildings and trees in front, just to the left of us as we approached M-7.
We sat for a few minutes at the highway intersection and viewed the devastation along the ridge to the east ... tree trunks stripped of all but the largest main branches and structures with various stages of destruction.
I watched the swirling clouds ... now moving west to east to our left ... and only then realized the high school was in that very direction.
As the tornado's main vortex approached the high school, hundred of students and faculty there and at the nearby elementary school had been pre-warned of the tornado and were hunkered-down in their tornado drill positions in the lowest floor hallways.
First to get hit by the tornado was the parking lot on the south side of the high school.
The force of the wind shattered virtually every window in the two-dozen or so cars in the lot, peeled back hoods and trunk lids on some and moved others against each other.
One car flipped over onto another as windows in the main high school building a hundred or so feet away started to shatter and pieces of the buildings exterior and roof began to peel away.
At the gymnasium on the east side, the north and south walls are blown down and portions of the roof fly away.
At this point, a miracle of sorts happens.
The main tornado circulation veers right - through the open athletic fields between the two schools, mangling and blowing away chain-link fences, bending fence posts and light standards to 45-degree angles, but avoiding a direct hit on either school.
(A student at the elementary school at the time has her recollection of the tornado HERE.)
Still, moderate to heavy damage was done to both buildings.
The tornado strengthened slightly north of the schools in a residential area containing Delaware Street, then the vortex continued on for another couple of miles before lifting back into the parent storm near County Road VV.
I fear the worst as we approach the bottom of the hill from the high school and see the damage. I pull the car onto the shoulder and into a large puddle, killing the engine.
With the rotating cloud unrecognizable as a funnel still visible and moving to the northeast, we run up the hill to offer what aid we could.
Virtually every south-facing window in the high school building had been blown out, with many of the several hundred students and teachers in the building climbing out of shattered lower-story windows.
Before we approached the building, I took several photos of the observed damage in the parking lot, then stopped short.
It was deja-vu - the gymnasium had concrete and steel arches - built almost exactly alike the Ruskin High School gym that was destroyed in the 1957 tornado.
Missouri Highway Patrol Trooper E.J. Horne arrived several minutes after we did and witnessed the utter chaos. Attempts were already underway to round up and account for the many dozens of students crawling out the battered high school.
Many headed for the lone police car, some bleeding from cuts by flying glass and nearly all speckled by bits of building debris & insulation.
Trooper Horne listened to whatever information he could get about casualties and radioed those reports back to the MHP Troop A headquarters in LEES SUMMIT.
Around 12:20 p.m. as I talked with the trooper facing and surveying the damaged building, I turned around to look south and see clearly ... a second funnel cloud hanging down backlighted by a clear area in another storm cell.
Trooper Horne jumped in his cruiser and radioed the sighting as I asked students where an appropriate shelter might be located. That was the basement of the First Baptist church, several blocks west of the school.
I yelled for those around the trooper's car to come on and we ran down the hill to my car ... just then remembering the motor had had died when I drove into the large puddle. With relief, the engine came to life as the half-dozen or so students crammed into and on the Cutlass and we headed without delay to the church.
We arrived in the midst of more chaos as people were pouring into the area of the church by foot and by vehicle. With no parking spaces nearby, I parked in the front yard of a home next to the church and we ran inside.
The church's basement was quite large, from what I could see there were at least two big rooms and a walled-off kitchen. In the one large room inside the door where we had entered stood dozens of adults and kids, many of whom were talking loudly with more than a few crying.
I scanned the many terror-stricken faces for hopes of seeing the hosts of the pool party I had attended, to no avail.
It was then that rescuers brought in two unconscious and appearing to be sandblasted persons on makeshift stretchers of storm-detached doors, laying them down on the floor just inside the door, then leaving.
My friend and I stood in a narrow space between frightened school children and the injured. The crying was starting to turn to wailing and it was involving more of the kids.
It was time to act.
I stood on a chair and in the loudest voice I could muster, asked for everybody's attention. Among scattered sobs, the room became amazingly quiet.
I first asked for anybody with first aid training to come forward, then asked if the teachers and older teens would move the younger children into the adjoining room so as not to view the two bloody and torn victims.
Several persons stepped up to help and we carefully moved the injured on their make-shift stretchers into the closed off kitchen. I instructed my friend what we needed to do for the injured ... considering we had no equipment ... and she calmly helped instruct the others as well as offer her aid.
We monitored the two persons' pulses and breathing - keeping them still until regular EMS people arrived about 15 minutes later and took the patients away.
We had forgotten about the 2nd funnel cloud. One of the medics assured me that it had moved away east of town.
We left the church basement into bright, warm sunshine. We made our way back to M-7 and turned north. Before leaving town however, I decided to turn down Delaware Street to check on the house where the pool party had been held.
"Good God" was all I could say as we approached the house. It had suffered mostly cosmetic damage, but all the houses to the east were much more severely damaged with one house at the end of the street completely blown away, leaving only a clean concrete slab.
Seeing enough, we headed back to M-7 and north - past the police roadblock that had now been set up with a growing line of civilian vehicles, emergency and news crews trying to get into town- and headed back to K.C..
Two persons were killed in the PLEASANT HILL tornado that day ... one in a mobile home near the Highways M-7 and M-58 junction and one in a house in the Baldwin Park area.
Twelve of the 15 total injured were in PLEASANT HILL, where twenty-five homes and 17 mobile homes were destroyed and an additional 56 homes ... plus the schools ...were damaged.
Damage totaled more than $3,000,000.
The tornado's total path was surveyed at nearly 30 miles long with an average width reported to be 500 yards. The storm was officially rated as a strong F-3 on the FUJITA scale.
However, a house at the end of Delaware Street had been swept completely clean off its concrete foundation - that was at least F-4 damage. It had been a newer, well-built brick and wood-framed ranch home and in retrospect, it well may have been where one of the fatalities occurred.