Comedy giant and philanthropist Jerry Lewis died of “natural causes” in Las Vegas with his family by his side Sunday morning, according to a statement issued by his publicist Candi Cazau.
But Lewis faced many health problems, including prostate cancer (undergoing surgery in 1992), three heart attacks, Type 1 diabetes, and the chronic lung disease pulmonary fibrosis, which left him dependent on steroids, according to media reports and documentaries about the comedian’s personal and professional life.
Lewis was also hospitalized in 2012 for blood sugar problems and in 2011 for exhaustion, CBS News reported.
Lewis’ death also followed a lengthy hospital stay in June when he was admitted and treated with antibiotics for a urinary tract injection. While he was in the hospital, he developed several other complications, which extended his stay, according to CBS.
But the family said the complications from his recent treatment didn’t lead to his death, which was ultimately from undisclosed natural causes.
The hospital stay in June was one of many health concerns that plagued him over the years.
In the documentary “Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis,” the comedian revealed that he suffered a heart attack in 1960 and a second one in 1982, after which he underwent open-heart surgery. When he was hospitalized, it was revealed that he had pneumonia and a “severely damaged heart.” He underwent a procedure and had stents placed into one of his arteries, which was almost 100 percent blocked.
Then, on a cross-country flight from San Diego to New York City in 2006, Lewis suffered another heart attack, described as minor, USA Today reported.
He publicly disclosed he also developed several addiction problems, one of which was reportedly tied to a back injury he suffered when he fell from a piano while performing in Las Vegas in 1965. The accident nearly left him paralyzed, and he became addicted to painkillers in the 13 years that followed. In 2002, Lewis had a piece of equipment surgically implanted into his back to reduce the discomfort.