Jerry Lewis enters hospital to stop steroid medication

Friday, November 14th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Jerry Lewis has been hospitalized for several weeks trying to wean himself from a steroid medication he took for a life-threatening respiratory condition, his manager said Friday.

The 77-year-old comedian was trying to recuperate and strengthen his lungs at an undisclosed Las Vegas hospital as he stopped taking prednisone for pulmonary fibrosis, manager Claudia Stabile said.

The medication caused him to gain so much weight that his body appeared noticeably bloated in recent years.

``The important thing is he's fine and I would say in a few months he's going to be active again in the business,'' agent Jeff Witjas said. ``He's slimming down to his normal weight. This is all a good thing.''

Stabile said the hospitalization was designed to improve his condition, but she didn't know if he would switch to an alternative drug for treating the illness after stopping prednisone. She declined to release the name of his hospital or physicians.

``Hopefully the condition will improve enough where he won't have to take meds,'' she said.

He entered the hospital several weeks ago, Stabile said. She couldn't say when he would be released.

Lewis has been plagued in recent years by several ailments. Besides pulmonary fibrosis, which is an increase of fibrous tissue in the lungs, he has had spinal meningitis, chronic back pain and diabetes.

The comedian's films include ``Cinderfella,'' ``The Errand Boy,'' ``The Nutty Professor'' and ``The Patsy.''

He and singer Dean Martin were a popular comedy act in the 1940s and '50s.