Joe E. Lewis (January 12, 1902 – June 4, 1971), born Joseph Klewan in New York City, was an American comedian and singer.
In 1927, Lewis refused the request of Jack "Machine Gun" McGurn (an Al Capone lieutenant) to renew a contract that would have bound him to sing and perform at the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, which was partly owned by McGurn. After refusing, because he had been offered more money by a rival gang to appear at their own club, "The New Rendezvous", he was later assaulted by McGurn one morning in November 1927 in his 10th floor Commonwealth Hotel room, mutilated (his throat and tongue were cut) and left for dead. It took him a few years to learn to speak again. Capone, who was fond of Lewis, was displeased with the assault, but was not about to take action against one of his top lieutenants. He proceeded to provide Lewis with $10,000 to allow him to recover properly and eventually resume his career.
Lewis toured in the USO shows with Ray Bolger in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Joe appeared in the movies Too Many Husbands (the 1931 short comedy), Private Number (1936), The Holy Terror (1937), Private Buckaroo (1942), and (playing himself) Lady In Cement (1968). He appeared frequently on The Ed Sullivan Show, was the "Mystery Guest" three different times on What's My Line, and was interviewed on Person to Person in 1956. In 1946 he married actress Martha Stewart; they divorced in 1948. Random House published Lewis's biography The Joker Is Wild written by Art Cohn in 1955...
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