Un­likely bond built on re­spect

Com­edy leg­end Jerry Lewis in­vites long-time Aussie friend and coun­cil­lor to his re­tire­ment

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS -

WHEN Amer­i­can king of com­edy Jerry Lewis held his farewell “re­tire­ment” con­cert in New York in Septem­ber, the 90-year-old’s wife Sa­man­tha rang Black­town coun­cil­lor Tony Bleas­dale to in­vite him to the event.

Cr Bleas­dale struck up a friend­ship with the fun­ny­man, who has been crack­ing up the stage and shar­ing his hu­mour in movies for more than 70 years, when he toured Aus­tralia in 2008.

The Liver­pool-born coun­cil­lor, of Shalvey, ad­mit­ted he was a fan as a young­ster of the pop­u­lar Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin movies.

But never in his wildest dreams did he imag­ine that one day the age­ing Amer­i­can would be a good friend and ask­ing the Aussie grand­fa­ther to help him on to the stage.

“Jerry gets re­ally ner­vous be­fore he goes on stage … he says ‘Tony, walk me out’; I never ever imag­ined that he’d want me to help him,’’ Cr Bleas­dale said.

Cr Bleas­dale said the friend­ship was forged over a mus­cu­lar dys­tro­phy fundrais­ing event at Dock­lands, in Mel­bourne. The two men were seated along­side each other and, in­ex­pli­ca­bly, they just clicked.

Since then, they talk over the phone — though not as fre­quently as they used to — and Cr Bleas­dale has vis­ited Lewis at his Las Ve­gas home.

The re­la­tion­ship is founded on re­spect, so much so that Cr Bleas­dale nom­i­nated Lewis for an hon­orary Or­der of the Medal of Aus­tralia in 2014 for his fundrais­ing ef­forts for chil­dren with mus­cu­lar dys­tro­phy in Aus­tralia.

“A lot of peo­ple don’t know that Jerry has raised mil­lions of dol­lars for mus­cu­lar dys­tro­phy,” Cr Bleas­dale said.

Un­like the most re­cent nom­i­na­tion of an non-Aus­tralian for an OAM — Tony Ab­bot’s hugely un­pop­u­lar nom­i­na­tion of the Duke of Ed­in­burgh — Lewis’s nom­i­na­tion was em­braced.

Cr Bleas­dale and wife Nina were spe­cial guests at the cer­e­mony in Las Ve­gas, where Lewis was pre­sented with his OAM by the then Aus­tralia’s US Am­bas­sador Kim Bea­z­ley.

Jerry Lewis with Tony Bleas­dale (be­low) in 2011; (above) with Dean Martin and (mid­dle) with Jim Car­rey at his 90th birth­day cel­e­bra­tions.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.