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Monday, 9 September, 2002, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
Comic Lewis resting after collapse
Jerry Lewis at the end of his annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon in Los Angeles, Monday, Sept. 2, 2002
Lewis had been in good spirits despite ill health
Veteran United States comic Jerry Lewis is resting comfortably at his London residence after collapsing backstage at a London theatre.

He was treated by an ambulance crew at the stage door and was unable to take part in the benefit show at the London Palladium, High on Laughter.

"We are grateful it was not necessary for him to go to hospital... We wish him a speedy recovery," said the charity show's producers Steven Alan Green and Tamsin Hollo, in a joint statement.


He was watching the screen clips of an earlier show of his behind the stage when he just sat back

Steven Alan Green
Organiser
Lewis's wife SanDee, speaking from Las Vegas, said her husband, despite suffering from ill health, had not taken a turn for the worse.

"He has not been taken ill. There is no change in his condition," she said.

Lewis, 76, known for his comedy partnership with Dean Martin, was to have been the special guest at the show for drugs charity Turning Point, 50 years after his first appearance there with Martin.

He has been plagued by ill health for the last two decades, battling prostate cancer, pulmonary fibrosis and spinal meningitis.

Green had told the Sunday night audience that Lewis would not be performing because he was unwell.

Watching clips

"I saw him collapse backstage out of the corner of my eye," Green later said.

"He was watching the screen clips of an earlier show of his behind the stage when he just sat back."

Lewis was diagnosed with spinal meningitis while on tour in Australia in 2000, and takes steroids to help battle pulmonary fibrosis, which is an increase of fibrous tissues in the lungs.

Unbearable

The pain has caused him to contemplate suicide, according to an interview in Monday's Daily Mirror newspaper.

"In April it got so bad that it forced me to get a gun and seriously think about putting it in my mouth," he said.

In 1982, he was declared clinically dead after suffering a heart attack.


I have jet lag from the 1960 trip

Jerry Lewis before being taken ill
Lewis was recently confined to a chair while hosting most of his 37th telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The telethon raised a record $58.3m (37m) for the charity.

He complained of tiredness earlier on Sunday when he was unable to travel to a BBC radio studio for an interview, instead conducting it over the phone.

He told BBC London 94.9FM that he made the trip to London on Saturday just to do the benefit show, and joked: "I have jet lag from the 1960 trip."

He added: "There's just something about London that gives you a charge, with the exception of Fleet Street of course."


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