Jerry Lewis
Jerry Lewis

RIP Jerry Lewis; Mel Brooks gets animated; ‘Youk’ scores again

Goodbye, Jerry Lewis

Here are a few “Jewish Jerry” things not found in the many obituaries and news stories after Jerry Lewis died on Aug. 20 at age 91.

A 1982 Washington Post profile related this story: “At the age of 15½, Joseph Levitch, 5 feet 8 inches tall, 115 pounds, was called to the office of the principal of his high school in Irvington, N.J., [for disrupting a chemistry lab]. [In the office], he punched the principal in the mouth.” “I did,” Lewis admitted to the Post. “And was expelled for it. It wasn’t meant to be that violent, but it really did some damage. And it was wonderful!”

In the office, the principal first called Lewis a wise guy, then added, “Why is it that only the Jews …” That’s the remark that prompted the punch. In Lewis’ words: “Pow! [I hit him]. Mr. Herter was his name. ‘Sweet Pea,’ we called him. If I’d been a white Aryan Protestant, everything would have been OK. But I was the gutsiest little shmuck. I took on anybody. I was knocked on my a– more times than you had hair on your head. But I kept coming.”

Lewis was 17 in 1944 when he met Italian American Catholic singer Patti Palmer, then 23. Lewis biographer Shawn Levy, 56, describes the course of their marriage. Palmer (born Esther Calonico) made some gestures toward converting to Judaism when they got engaged, and the couple were wed by a rabbi in 1945 (she was six months pregnant). However, by 1952, Palmer had returned to her Catholic faith and eventually all their children (six sons) were confirmed in the Church.

Levy said Palmer sought the comfort of Catholicism in response to Jerry’s increasing emotional distance, some verbal abuse and his many extramarital affairs. In 1982, Palmer consented to a divorce because it was clear that Jerry, then 56, was set on marrying Sandee Pitnick, then 31, a dancer he met in Las Vegas.

Lewis and Pitnick had a traditional Jewish wedding in 1983 and, following two miscarriages, adopted a daughter in 1992 who they named Danielle. Lewis has been quoted as saying, “I adore my daughter.” Last year, he tearfully told “Inside Edition” that the worst thing about dying would be leaving his wife and daughter.


‘Youk’ scores again

Kevin Youkilis, 38, racked up some decent numbers in 10 years as a major league baseball player, mostly with the Boston Red Sox. He was a three-time All-Star, a Gold Glove winner for excellent defense and a member one Red Sox team that won the World Series. In 2008 and 2009 combined, he hit 56 home runs and drove in 209 runs.

Then, last month, the California State Fair’s brewery of the year (in the commercial beer competition) was Loma Brewing in Los Gatos, a 1-year-old operation owned by Youkilis and his brother, veteran San Francisco chef-restaurateur Scott Youkilis.

After Kevin retired in 2014, he began living in Los Gatos, where he and his brother took over a former brewery space and hired Warren Billups, a seasoned brewmaster. As the Oakland Tribune put it: “Looks like [Billups] hit it out of the park with his beers in just one year.”


What we’re watching

An animated movie set in the late 19th century, “Leap!” opened Aug. 25. When Félicie leaves an orphanage for Paris hoping to become a dancer, she’s joined by her best friend Victor (Nat Wolff, 22), an orphan who wants to be a famous inventor. Mel Brooks, 91, voices the head of the orphanage.

“Beach Rats” is scheduled to open in Berkeley on Friday, Sept. 1 and in San Francisco a week later. The director-screenwriter, Eliza Hittman, 37, won a directing award for the movie — in which the central character is a Brooklyn teenager conflicted about his sexual identity — at Sundance earlier this year.

The first season of “Disjointed” premiered on Netflix on Aug. 25. Basic plot: After decades of advocating for legalized marijuana usage, Ruth Whitefeather Feldman (Kathy Bates) employs her newly graduated son and a team of young “budtenders” to help run her legal marijuana dispensary. The series was co-created by Chuck Lorre, 64 (“Two and a Half Men,” “The Big Bang Theory” and many other TV hits) and David Javerbaum, 46, head writer of “The Daily Show” when Jon Stewart, 54, was host. Though reviews have been mixed, one noted that Bates speaks with a “New York Jewish accent.”

Nate Bloom

Nate Bloom writes the "Celebrity Jews" column for J.