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Jerry Lewis accused of sexual assault by co-stars: ‘The ugly thing came out’

The new accusations of sexual assault and harassment made by two actresses who starred opposite comedy legend Jerry Lewis are no laughing matter. Two of the “Nutty Professor” star’s leading ladies — Karen Sharpe and Hope Holiday — make startling revelations in “The Dark Side of a Hollywood Icon,” a new bombshell documentary dropped Wednesday by Vanity Fair. Sharpe, 87, and Holiday, 91, were interviewed by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, the duo behind the controversial HBO docuseries “Allen v. Farrow.” Golden Globe winner Sharpe recounted being cast opposite Lewis — who died in 2017 at the age of 91 — in the 1964 flick “The Disorderly Orderly.” She alleged that while she was in wardrobe getting fitted for her costumes, Lewis told everyone but her to exit the room. He then “started moving in on me” and “grabbed me.” The veteran TV and film actress — who held her own opposite Hollywood heavyweights John Wayne and Clint Eastwood — said she at first couldn’t process what was happening to her. “He began to fondle me. He unzipped his pants. Quite frankly, I was dumbstruck,” Sharpe said. “I put my hand up and said, ‘Wait a minute. I don’t know if this is a requirement for your leading ladies — but this is something I don’t do.’ ” “I could see that he was furious. I got the feeling that that never really happened to him,” Sharpe recalled. ‘He starts to talk dirty to me and as he’s talking, the pants open, and the ugly thing came out and he starts to jerk off’ — Hope Holiday, recounting a disturbing moment with Jerry Lewis on “The Ladies Man” set in 1961. Because Sharpe was under contract with the studio, she said she was forced to complete the movie. She also alleged that several days later, the crew was told not to speak to her, with the exception of the director and assistant director. “The High and the Mighty” actress also claimed that Lewis refused to rehearse with her or to acknowledge her presence unless they were in a scene together. Meanwhile, Holiday appeared in the New Jersey native’s 1961 movie “The Ladies Man.” She revealed that on the first day on set, Lewis told her to come into his dressing room where he pressed a button that locked his door. “Then he starts to talk to me: ‘Y’know, you could be very attractive but you wear pants all the time. I have never seen you in a skirt. You have nice legs and you’ve got good boobs,’ ” said Holiday, who also co-starred in the classic Shirley MacLaine films “The Apartment” and “Irma La Douce.” Then things took an even darker turn. “He starts to talk to me about sex . . . He starts to talk dirty to me and as he’s talking, the pants open, and the ugly thing came out and he starts to jerk off,” Holiday said. “I was frightened … I just sat there and I wanted to leave so badly.” Fighting back was difficult: By 1959, Lewis movies had raked in $100 million for Paramount at a time when tickets cost less than 70 cents, Vanity Fair reported. He was so untouchable that the studio’s head of production, Barney Balaban, once proclaimed, “If Jerry wants to burn down the studio, I’ll give him the match!” However, the next day, Holiday went to confront Lewis — and smacked him in the face. “I hit him so hard that I spun around. And I didn’t mean to,” she said. “Maybe down deep I did. But he walked off the set and sulked for an hour. He said I did it on purpose.” It was then that production was halted because Lewis was both the director and star. “He finally came back and didn’t talk to me,” Holiday revealed. “He never spoke to me again.”

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