'Larry King Extra' features Jerry Lewis


October 21, 1991|By Steve McKerrow

When Jerry Lewis was 5, his vaudeville parents brought him on stage one night to share a song.

"My foot slipped in the footlights and I got that first laugh, and I knew I had something. I milked it," recalls Lewis tonight in an engaging new interview special, "Larry King Extra," at 8 o'clock on cable's TNT service.

Now, putting Lewis and King together might seem to portend "Night of the Living Egos." But the two are actually quite interesting to hear in conversation. And King also interviews screen queens Audrey Hepburn and Debbie Reynolds in the hourlong special.

The graceful Hepburn, surprisingly, confesses she still does not believe she is much of an actress and insists, "I'm still totally puzzled" by her fame, which goes back to a 1953 Oscar for "Roman Holiday."

She also talks movingly of how she consistently refused to play the role of Anne Frank because of her own girlhood memories of the Nazi occupation of her native Belgium.

And Lewis, whose breakup with partner Dean Martin in 1958 was a celebrated show business event, is extremely complimentary here to Martin -- although he is not particularly specific on the reasons behind the split.

"He was the key to everything I did. He was the act," says Lewis, calling Martin "the greatest straight man that ever lived." The pair got together in 1946, when Lewis was 18 and Martin was 28.

They were among America's biggest stars for more than a decade in movies and on television. In fact, they headlined the premiere broadcast of "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1948, splitting a paltry $200 fee.

Yet Lewis suggests that as time went on, others surrounding Martin persuaded him "the little guy" was getting too much attention.

As for their act, Lewis is none too pretentious, calling it simply "the handsome guy and the monkey."



* If you can receive Washington's WTTG-Channel 5 via broadcast or cable, the station is airing a real charmer tonight (8 o'clock), the 1985 romance/fantasy "Ladyhawke."

In a misty, medieval setting, Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer (currently sparkling in theaters in "Frankie & Johnny") star as lovers placed under a curse. She lives in one form by day, he in another by night, and a young servant -- Matthew Broderick in the role he did after "War Games" -- tries to bring them together.

* And a cautionary note is in order regarding another 8 p.m. movie, "Short Circuit 2" (WNUV-Channel 54).

The pretty good sequel to the 1986 original about a robot with human feelings has a scene near the end, when the loveable mechanical star takes a vicious beating, which might be difficult for children to see.

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