Ted Lewis, 1890-1971
"Is Everybody Happy?"One of the outstanding American showmen of the twentieth century, Ted Lewis was born Theodore Leopold Friedman in Circleville to a prominent business family. Stagestruck at an early age, Lewis began performing in cabarets, vaudeville shows, and nightclubs throughout Ohio at age 17, and moved to New York in 1915. Ted opened his own cabaret in 1918. With his animated stage persona, his clarinet, and his trademark cane and battered top hat, Lewis enjoyed a wide appeal with his jazz age audiences. His "Me and My Shadow" act exemplified his popularity during the 1920s, at which time he was the highest-paid entertainer in the business. His career spanned over six decades, from vaudeville to television. Lewis died in New York in 1971.
Circleville's Ted LewisAs Circleville's most famous native son, Ted Lewis contributed significantly to his hometown. Having performed in the first Pumpkin Show in 1903, Lewis continued to promote Circleville's trademark festival throughout his career. He returned to Circleville often and performed a successful benefit show here in 1952; with his wife Adah Becker Lewis (1897-1981), he bought and donated the land for Ted Lewis Park, and supported local Berger Hospital. The Ted Lewis Museum, dedicated in 1977, occupies the only remaining building that stood on Circleville's original circle. It interprets the life and career of "The Jazz King" and contains significant collections in the history of early twentieth century American music. Ted and Adah Lewis are interred at Circleville's Forest Cemetery.