Suzan Lewis, Daughter of Entertainer Jerry Lewis, Goes Public with Her Life Story

"There are no illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents." So says Suzan Lewis, the biological daughter of entertainer, Jerry Lewis. The disabled Ms. Lewis is planning to publish her autobiography, and take her show on the road.
Nov. 11, 2008 - PRLog -- At the age of 56, most people would find it hard to change their lives and begin again in a totally new direction, but that is what I am doing with my life, both out of necessity and desire.

As a child growing up in Manhattan, I lead a charmed life. My mother Lynn and my stepfather, Hy Uchitel, were quite well-to-do. They owned the Voisin Restaurant and El Morocco Night Club in New York City. My family also owned the Eden Rock Hotel in Miami Beach and the Place for Steak in North Dade, Florida. Hy and his brother Maurice Uchitel had many other enterprises, and it was rumored that they were connected with “the syndicate,” but they never spoke about that.

I went to an exclusive French school and to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. I attended finishing school in Switzerland. My friends were my mother and stepfather’s friends. They included JFK and Jackie Kennedy, Pat and Richard Nixon, Rudy Vallee, Pearl Mesta, Lauren Bacall, and many other luminaries. My best friend and classmate was Leslie Bogart, the daughter of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. My mom’s best friend was the man who stayed with her at the hospital when she gave birth to me. You see, Mom’s husband was away for another hitch in the army at the time, and dear, sweet, Milton Berle gave comfort to my mom when she needed a friend. “Uncle Miltie” also gave me my first name. Milton knew even before I was born that mom was seeing Jerry Lewis and that I was Jerry’s child. There were others whom Mom confided in back then, and some of those people are alive today.

When I was 19, I met a Frenchman, moved to France, fell in love, married him, and had two children. After 14 years, my marriage dissolved, and I returned to the USA alone. I permitted my sons to remain with their father because they, too, were French.

The mirror doesn’t lie, but people do, sometimes to protect themselves and sometimes to protect others. My mother lied to me for over 25 years for both of those reasons. When I was 26 years old, she called me home from France to tell me the truth about my identity. She might have never told me, but she was diagnosed with cancer and believed that she didn’t have long to live. Telling me the truth was the most courageous thing my mother ever did, except for battling off her cancer. As I wrote in a recent letter to Jerry, when my beautiful mom told me that he was my biological father, I could not speak. This very disturbing news was overwhelming. In one sentence “Jerry Lewis is your real father,”  my life changed. The man whom I always believed to be my father was not even related to me, my brother instantly became my half brother, and my real dad belonged to the world not to me. Worst of all, my mother admitted to me that she was unfaithful to her husband. I was numb, and all I could do is look into her bedroom mirror, which had actually been telling me the truth from the time I was a child. I finally knew who I was because the face I saw in the mirror was the face of Jerry Lewis. Some years later Mom provided me with legal documentation regarding her admission to me about my dad.

My two children were kept in the dark about the identity of their grandfather until my oldest son overheard a conversation on the subject. Reluctantly, I explained the truth to the boys and instructed them to keep it a secret. But kids will be kids, and because of Jerry Lewis’ popularity in France, the word spread rapidly among their friends and our neighbors.

When I married a Frenchman, I was forced to change my religion and hide my Jewish faith. When news got around that Jerry Lewis was my father, I began finding anti-Semitic notes stuck to my front door and experienced a great deal of anti-Jewish harassment and vandalism. This stress contributed to the breakup of my marriage. When I returned to the USA, I permitted my boys to stay in France with their father to continue their schooling and their childhood. Today I am in close contact with my boys, and I have come home to Judaism.

In the early 1980s while my father was visiting France, I met him at his hotel, and we spent a very warm and special day together in his suite. It was his idea to place an overseas call to Mom. After he talked with her, he seemed even more relaxed and accepting of me. I have great memories of that day with Jerry Lewis. And why not? In 56 years of life, that was the only day I have ever spent with my father.

I have always admired Jerry Lewis for the same reasons his fans admire him, but watching him on TV in the early 1990s broke my heart. After he adopted his beautiful daughter Dani, I cried hysterically each time my father told his television audience that he finally had the daughter he always wanted. He was not referring to me. Nobody can understand how painful that was for me.

Shortly after I returned to the United States after living in France for 14 years, I was nearly killed in a head-on automobile crash. The doctors said I was lucky to have survived the accident. I don’t feel I totally survived because the person who came out of the coma was left with severe, short term memory loss and mental processing problems. My body can only function while I am on pain medicine. I was once considered a cook equal to the Cordon Blue chefs hired by my stepfather. Now, because of my combined disabilities, I couldn’t even hold a night shift job as a waitress at Denny’s.

There are no illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents. Dad has never stood in my way, even in the face of international publicity, since I began discussing my heritage with the media. Being acknowledged by Jerry Lewis, my father, would be personally gratifying. Being acknowledged by Jerry Lewis, the celebrity, however, would go a long way in helping me bring attention to the plight of homeless and disabled people in this country.

I have gone public with my story for one reason: After being as low as I was, I survived. I now have a new passion and that is to help those in need. Tens of thousands of homeless and displaced people in this country need a spokesperson, and someone they can look to for support. It is a common belief that people on the streets want to be there. That is far from the truth, and I know that first hand. I spent a part of my life sleeping in my car, and  calling a park bench in Florida my home. Using my name and the comedic talents handed down to me by my father, I want to entertain and bring joy to my audiences. I also want to spread the word about those dear, needy people, like those who are now living on my bench in Boca Raton, Florida.

Suzan Lewis

Suzan Lewis is represented by:
Rick Saphire Celebrity Management
Phone: 1-856-424-1064
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Tags:Suzan Lewis, Jerry Lewis, Parenting
Industry:Entertainment, Arts, Family
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Page Updated Last on: Dec 02, 2008
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