cover image I Laffed Till I Cried: Thirty-Six Years of Marriage to Jerry Lewis

I Laffed Till I Cried: Thirty-Six Years of Marriage to Jerry Lewis

Patti Lewis, Sara Coleman. WRS Group, $19.95 (167pp) ISBN 978-1-56796-035-8

This shapeless script, presumably a history of Patti's marriage to Jerry Lewis, provides too few details of the story promised and too much about her accomplishments, remarkable though they are. Patient readers can find the mistreated child, Esther Calonica, becoming a pretty singer, Patti, who in 1945 interrupted her career to wed Jerry Lewis, defying her Italian-Catholic parents and his Jewish kin. As Jerry's fame and fortunes grew, Patti devoted herself to home and to their six sons, while enjoying the companionship of Hollywood greats. There are no revelations about Dean Martin's split from Jerry, who never divulged the ``actual straw that broke the back of the team.'' In explaining the Lewis divorce in 1981, Patti cites Jerry's numerous infidelities and drug use that drained the family finances. She explains that he was jealous and verbally abusive, and that the chidren were fearful of his mood swings. Afterward, Patti was guided by her religious beliefs to forgive, to establish support groups for other divorced women and even to promote Jerry's telethon benefits for child victims of muscular dystrophy. However, the self-praise and tributes by friends and sons that fill these pages dilute the reader's empathy for a strong woman. Although collaborator Coleman is billed as a ``professional'' author, apparently she did not provide the editorial guidance urgently needed here. Photos. Author tour. (Oct.)