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Movie Fact #317 - January 6th, 2021


For the original 1963 version of The Nutty Professor (later popularized by two movies starring Eddie Murphy), all the characters basic characterizations have ties to people and personalities from director/co-writer/lead star Jerry Lewis. His own character Julius Kelp was a Lewis staple, having appeared earlier in Rock-A-Bye Baby (1958) while basically identical characters would appear in The Family Jewels (1965) The Big Mouth (1967) and in various sketches on his self-titled variety show in the late-1960's.

Kelp's suave alter ego Buddy Love is often interpreted as a lampoon of Lewis' show business partner Dean Martin (the duo were highly successful from 1946 to 1956 before an acrimonious breakup when they did not speak to each other for decades), though Lewis himself consistently denied this rumor. Film critic Danny Peary made the claim in his 1981 book Cult Movies that the character of Love is actually a representation of a dark side of Lewis's real personality while Lewis stated that the two represented good and evil. Later on, in his own 1982 autobiography and again in a DVD featurette entitled The Nutty Professor: Making The Formula, Lewis stated that the character was based on every obnoxious, self-important, hateful hipster he ever knew, but in the DVD commentary, Lewis speculates that he perhaps should have made Love more evil rather than simply obnoxious. This was because, in irony, to his surprise more fan mail came for Love than for the professor. Either way, the inspiration paid forward.

The character of Professor Frink from the animated television series The Simpsons loosely borrows many of his mannerisms and technique from Lewis' delivery of the Julius Kelp character, as well as the transition to a Buddy Love version of Frink in several episodes. As a way to come fully circle, in the episode "Treehouse of Horror XIV", the character of Frink's father was voiced by Lewis. Stay tuned!

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