I have tremendous respect for Jerry Lewis. He's a great entertainer, a ferocious intellect, and perhaps the greatest charity fundraiser in history.
I was pleased to see Lewis receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award during the Academy Awards ceremony in February, principally for his work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
I had no idea that the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon had raised more than $2 billion over the years. There are larger charities, but I don't know any that owe so much to the fundraising efforts of one man.
The technical side of my brain was intrigued to hear that Lewis had received a patent for "video assist" technology--the use of closed-circuit television to allow a film director to review scenes as they're filmed.
It seemed to me the story of Lewis' invention of video assist technology would make a good post for Speeds & Feeds. I figured I'd also be able to mention another famous movie-star patent, Hedy Lamarr's 1942 patent (US 2,292,387) on frequency-hopping communications (as Hedy Kiesler Markey), and Walt Disney's 1940 patent on animation (US 2,201,689).
I ran a Google search for "'Jerry Lewis' patent" and found many references to such a patent, including an article by a Mark Adler of VAIdigital offering the title "Closed Circuit Television Applied to Motion Pictures." Adler said Lewis came up with the idea in 1956 and first used it in 1960 on his first film, "The Bellboy."
An article by Michael Frediani titled "On the Set with Video Assist" from an issue of The Operating Cameraman (then the magazine of what is now the Society of Camera Operators) includes a picture of a video assist system, complete with… Read more