First, there are the items not for sale. The ring on Danielle Lewis’ right hand was her grandmother’s wedding band, given to her on her 12th birthday. The Star of David necklace that also spells out “JERRY” is also to be kept in the family.
So Jerry Lewis’ family isn’t selling everything. But it’s selling lots.
Hundreds of the entertainment legend’s personal items are being offered for public bid this Friday at Planet Hollywood. Julien’s Auctions is managing the sale, which will be staged in two sections: 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. (For details, and to buy a catalogue of items for sale, visit the website at www.juliensauctions.com).
The Lewis estate sale is part of a two-day Hollywood Legends auction event at the hotel.
Among the items offered: A custom-made, tweed burgundy suit worn by Lewis in his Julius Kelp character in “The Nutty Professor”; three vintage black eyeglass frames, including reading glasses in the style Lewis wears in the film, with painted eyeballs on the lenses; a collection of Lewis’ watches, including an 18-karat yellow-gold Patek Philippe given to Lewis by Sammy Davis, Jr. and engraved on the back “To Jerry From Sammy Jr.”; a 14-karat yellow-gold Le Coultre watch given to him by Dean Martin and inscribed “Jerry My Buddy/ and Pal/ I Love You/ Dino”; and a 14-karat yellow-gold lighter with a relief caricature of Lewis in clown make-up.
Several pairs of Lewis’ personalized cufflinks, golf clubs, briefcases, clothing, handguns from his firearms collection, memorabilia from his film career (solo and with Dean Martin) are also offered, including items from the never-released film “The Day the Clown Cried.”
Lewis died Aug. 20 at age 91 at his Las Vegas home. The sale marks a turning point in the family’s lives. Lewis’ youngest child, 26-year-old Danielle, wants to state her own account of her father’s life and career. Up to this point, the public has heard mostly from Lewis’ older children, some of whom had no relationship with the entertainment legend at the time of his passing.
“I speak only for myself when I say that the father I knew was the most giving, loving, attentive and kind-hearted person I have ever known,” Danielle Lewis said during a conversation Saturday afternoon. “I cannot imagine anyone on the planet being able to ever say a negative word about him.”
Jerry Lewis was protective of his youngest daughter, adopted at birth by he and his wife, Sam, in 1992. Other than staged photo ops, she was often kept away from media.
“As a kid I was always scared of paparazzi, reporters, and I remember at some events him and my mom would take me up to the hotel room to sit it out,” Danielle Lewis said. “I was terrified of public attention.”
But today, Danielle Lewis is more comfortable in the role of family ambassador, especially as she marks her first Father’s Day without her famous dad.
“It’s kind of cool, and really rewarding, getting to share my take on his life with the world,” she said. “I wish I had more of a chance to do it when he was alive.”
Danielle Lewis said her father entrusted her and her mother to offer his belongings to the public. In the process, she did find items she would not sell — including the Star of David necklace. “My dad wore this all the time, back in the day.” She gained an encyclopedic knowledge of her father’s vast collection of personal items.
“Some of them are difficult to sell, like his passport, his driver’s licenses,” Danielle Lewis said. “The ‘Damn Yankees’ costume, because that show was part of my growing up. My mom and I kept the most meaningful pieces and made sure the public gets to share a piece of him, too.”
Some of the more significant belongings are not famous costumes or engraved gifts.
“You’ll see some meaningful cameras, and a lot of watches,” she said. “He loved watches, especially the two-face watches to show different time zones. And he was just obsessed with cameras. Everywhere we went he would shoot candids. He liked people moving. He didn’t wait for a pose.”
The painstaking process of gathering and indexing her father’s belongings has helped Danielle Lewis effectively talk of her time with her father. She remembers especially the days when her dad was permitted to baby-sit, without his own supervision.
“He was so dedicated to being a model father, and he liked spending all this time with me,” she said. “My mom finally taught him how to braid my hair, ponytails and pigtails. She usually did that, but she spent a week or two on that project, using a model doll head. But after a week, he did learn how to do it.”
That memory, too, is nor for sale. Dani Lewis owns that one.