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Friday, September 10, 1999 Published at 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK


'King of Comedy' in stalker action

Veteran Lewis during his annual telethon last weekend

Veteran comic Jerry Lewis is reportedly planning to go to court on 21 September to try to extend a 1992 protective order against a man who was convicted of stalking him.

The Las Vegas Sun says the 73-year-old's action follows the news that Gary Benson is due to be released from prison next month after serving more than four years of his six-year sentence.

[ image: King of Comedy: Lewis was hounded in the 1983 film]
King of Comedy: Lewis was hounded in the 1983 film
Benson, a 56-year-old diagnosed chronic schizophrenic, was convicted in 1995 of aggravated stalking.

Prison spokesman Glen Whorton said Benson will not have to report to a parole officer after his release on 5 October.

The Lewis stalking case played a key role in the passage of a bill earlier this year before the Nevada Legislature that increased the maximum aggravated stalking penalty to 15 years.

Bizarrely, Lewis starred opposite Robert De Niro in the dark 1983 film King of Comedy about a would-be comedian (De Niro) who hounds a talk show host (Lewis).

Health problems

Last weekend, Lewis - a Las Vegas resident for 20 years - fought off double vision and headaches to host his annual Labor Day Telethon, which raised a record $53.1 million (33m) in pledges for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

After the event Lewis said: "I'm thrilled and grateful for the support of our viewers, and filled with hope that the dollars we've raised will translate into new research breakthroughs to help us conquer the muscle-wasting diseases."

Two neurologists monitored his condition throughout the broadcast.

Last month Lewis was hospitalised and forced to cancel the remaining six shows of his Australian tour after he was diagnosed as suffering from viral meningitis.

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