Co-stars say Jerry Lewis sexually harassed, assaulted them

Former co-stars of deceased comedian Jerry Lewis alleged that he sexually abused or harassed them, according to a new report from Vanity Fair.

Actress Karen Sharpe, now 87, alleged to the media outlet that during her time working on set on the 1964 film “The Disorderly Orderly” as Lewis’s love interest, he sexually assaulted her.

Sharpe said that Lewis had her try on different costumes for the film and when she got to her last outfit, he used a walkie-talkie to dismiss those nearby and move in on her. 

“He grabbed me. He began to fondle me. He unzipped his pants. Quite frankly, I was dumbstruck,” Sharpe told Vanity Fair, adding that she resisted. 

“I put my hand up and said, ‘Wait a minute. I don’t know if this is a requirement for your leading ladies, but this is something I don’t do,’” she recalled to the magazine. “I could see that he was furious. I got the feeling that that never really happened to him.”

Sharpe said that thereafter, Lewis refused to rehearse with her and instead would rehearse with her understudy actress. 

She also alleged that Lewis would not speak to her and required that the crew do the same. If they did speak with her, she recalled, they would get fined. 

Another actress, Hope Holiday, alleged that Lewis locked her in a dressing room alone with him and began to speak to her about sex, making sexual comments about her body.

“He starts to talk dirty to me and as he’s talking, the pants open, and the ugly thing came out and he starts to jerk off. I was frightened. … I just sat there and I wanted to leave so badly,” she said.

Screenwriter Renée Taylor also alleged that Lewis had a reputation.

She said that he had offered her a scripting opportunity, but when she presented it to an executive board, they made lewd comments about her being one of “Jerry’s girls” and laughed at her.

Actress Lainie Kazan alleged that Lewis got her alone in a hotel room and came on to her sexually, which left her feeling violated, Vanity Fair reported. 

Years down the line, in 2014, actress Amy Schumer said that she had been the subject of Lewis’s crude behavior when the comedian was in his 80s, explaining, “[Lewis] came up and we hugged each other, and then he started pushing me back, trying to lay me down on the stage. I buckled down and used my knees to stay in place, and he was in my ear saying, ‘Lay down.’ I whispered ‘No’ in his ear. Even after I said no, he was still trying. I had to use my core to stay up—he’s a strong motherf—er.”

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual abuse, call 1-800-656-HOPE or go to for 24/7 support.

Tags #MeToo; sexual harassment alleged sexual assault Amy Schumer Amy Schumer Bill Cosby Hope Holiday Jerry Lewis Jerry Lewis Karen sharpe Renée Taylor sexual harassment allegations Vanity Fair

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