Former “King of Comedy,” Jerry Lewis, who died in 2017, has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by many of his former co-stars.
In a new documentary, The Hunting Ground, actresses Karen Sharpe and Hope Holiday accused 1963’s The Nutty Professor star, who died of heart failure at 91, of assaulting them on set.
Sharpe, 87, who appeared in 1964’s aptly titled The Disorderly Orderly, said that Lewis “started moving in on” her after he sent production staff out of a room during their costume fitting.
She recalled that Lewis “grabbed” her and she was “dumbstruck,” when he began to fondle her and unzipped his pants.
“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.’ I could see that he was furious. I got the feeling that that never really happened to him,” Sharpe told him.
When she came back to the set days later, the crew members had been instructed not to talk to her and Lewis refused to run lines in rehearsals. From then on, he would only be in her presence when they were filming a scene.
“He never worked with me. He never spoke to me. The first take of what we did together was what went on film. And that was what everyone was going to see,” she explained.
His co-star, Hope Holiday, 91, had a similar experience on the set of 1961’s The Ladies Man. The actress claims that The Family Jewels star had a button in his dressing room that locked his door, and used it when he invited her in.
He told her she had “nice legs” and “good boobs,” but didn’t like that she wore pants instead of skirts.
“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 j–k off,” Holiday detailed. “I was frightened…. I just sat there and I wanted to leave so badly.”
The next day they shared a scene when she was required to slap him and she “hit him so hard” that she spun around. “And I didn’t mean to,” she remarked. “Maybe down deep I did.” He never spoke to her again, but she stayed quiet about the event to avoid harming her career.
In the accompanying Vanity Fair article, six other women shared their sexual harassment stories about Lewis, including comedian Amy Schumer, who he tried to mime having sex with at a 2014 comedy roast, but she resisted.
“I’m not going to be the girl who gets f–ked after her set,” she said. “Sorry, Jerry Lewis.”