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Jerry Lewis on His Secret Love Affair with Marilyn Monroe: 'I Was Crippled for a Week'

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Jerry Lewis might not be the first name on anyone’s list of great Hollywood lotharios, but according to the disorderly orderly himself, Marilyn Monroe was among his many famous lovers.

Lewis, whose death was confirmed to PEOPLE on Sunday, revealed he’d had a secret love affair with the blonde bombshell during a candid interview with GQ in 2011.

While the comedy king initially demurred when asked to name some of his famous lovers, he eventually admitted to the Monroe affair in the middle of another question about his friend, President John F. Kennedy.

John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images; Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

After insisting that the alleged Monroe-Kennedy affair never happened, Lewis said, “I’m telling you what I know. Never! And the only reason I know is because I did. Okay?”

When the interviewer reacted with disbelief, Lewis assured the story was true, saying that Monroe used sex like he used to humor: “She needed that contact to be sure it was real.”

So what was the affair like? “It was … long,” he said, smiling ruefully. “I was crippled for a month.” Another pause, he quipped, “And I thought Marlene Dietrich was great!”

Lewis’s affair with Monroe occurred while he was still married to his first wife, Patti Palmer. The pair were married from 1944 until 1980, when they divorced. The comedian went on to marry SanDee Pitnick in 1983. He is survived by SanDee and six children.