Jerry Lewis, 86, hospitalized before Friars Club gala honoring him, Tom Cruise
Jerry Lewis, 86, was rushed to a New York hospital on Tuesday, before he was set to take the stage at a star-studded Friars Club gala to receive an award and also present one to Tom Cruise.
The comedian is an American cultural icon. He was the chairman of the U.S. Muscular Dystrophy Association and hosted its annual Labor Day telethon for about 45 years, helping to raise $1.66 billion for the charity. He was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his work and retired from the organization in 2011.
Lewis, who suffers from type 1 diabetes, had passed out due to low blood sugar at the Friars Club's gala at the Waldorf Astoria and was hospitalized and released later in the night, according to a report by The New York Post. His spokesperson had no comment.
"Jerry Lewis was so sorry to miss the Icon Award presentation to Tom Cruise last night, but is feeling much better today and is back at his hotel, and thanks everyone for their good wishes," a Friars Club spokesperson said in a statement obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com on Wednesday.
Lewis was set to receive the Applause Award for excellence in entertainment and present the Friars Club Entertainment Icon Award to Cruise. The 49-year-old actor's "Jerry Maguire" co-star Cuba Gooding Jr. and NBC's "Today" show host Matt Lauer presented him with his award instead. Only three people have previously won the prize, the club's top honor - Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks.
Chairman of the Friars Foundation Ambassador Joseph Zappala told the crowd at the gala that Lewis had fallen ill just before the event and had been taken to hospital, but was expected to recover, according to The New York Post.
Cruise, who is promoting his new film "Rock of Ages," attended the gala with his son Connor and daughter Suri, who was present during an R-rated comedic tribute that featured "a few F-bombs," according to the Associated Press.
The event was emceed by Alec Baldwin, his co-star in the 1980s-themed movie, which hits theaters on Friday. The Friars Club event also featured a performance from the cast of the Broadway play that inspired the flick, while Corinne Bailey Rae and Robin Thicke also sang on stage.Other celebrity guests included "Jerry Maguire" actor and former child star Jonathan Lipnicki, designer Betsey Johnson, singer Laura Bell Bundy and Kevin Pollak.
Lewis was also hospitalized almost one year ago, in June 2011, during a visit to Australia. He was subsequently forced to cancel a comedy show aimed to raise funds for a local Muscular Dystrophy Foundation. His rep said the comedian was "feeling a little under the weather," possibly as a result of the 17-hour time difference between Sydney and Los Angeles.
Type 1 diabetics like Lewis control their ailment, which is an incurable auto-immune disease, with a strict diet and a daily routine of insulin shots to regulate blood glucose levels, which can lead to life-threatening conditions if they fall too low or become too high.
Lewis has suffered numerous health problems for years. He had a heart attack in the early 1980s and was clinically dead for seconds. He suffered a minor cardiac arrest in 2006. He has also battled prostate cancer, viral meningitis. and pulmonary fibrosis, a lung ailment."The only thing I haven't had in my life is a cold sore," Lewis said on the CNN show "Larry King Live" in 200. "I'd love to have one of those, you know. Or maybe a splinter."