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Jerry Lewis out of rehab, 50 lbs. lighter

Lewis before the weight loss.

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LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Comedian Jerry Lewis, looking more like his old self after shedding 50 pounds (23 kilos) gained from steroid treatments, has returned home from a three-month hospital stay, a spokeswoman said Monday.

Lewis, 77, had checked into the rehabilitation center of an undisclosed Las Vegas hospital in mid-October to undergo a managed withdrawal from prednisone, which he had been taking for the chronic lung ailment, pulmonary fibrosis.

He was discharged from the facility on January 16 and plans to make a return engagement March 3 at Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, where he had been a regular performer before his health worsened nearly three years ago, said publicist Candi Cazau.

She said his first show back might end up being reserved entirely for family, friends and celebrities, and thus may not be open to the public.

"He's feeling great," Cazau said, adding that Lewis has embarked on a new diet and exercise regime. "He looks like Jerry Lewis."

Cazau said Lewis still planned to lose 20 more pounds (9 kilos), which she said would take him down to his fighting weight of about 180 pounds (82 kilos).

Lewis' weight had ballooned to as much as 242 pounds (110 kilos) as a side effect of the steroid, which he began taking in the spring of 2001. The extra weight left the entertainer visibly bloated in recent public appearances, including his latest stint as host of the annual Labor Day telethon to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Cazau said Lewis spoke for 90 minutes at an actors workshop in Las Vegas.

The comedian chose to undergo a withdrawal from the prednisone after the condition of his lungs showed marked improvement, she said in November. A case of diabetes linked to the steroid also abated as he came off the drug, she said.

Lewis shot to fame as a sidekick to singer Dean Martin in a popular comedy act during the 1950s, and went on to star on his own in a string of screwball comedy films, a number of which he directed, including "The Bellboy," "The Ladies' Man," "The Errand Boy" and "The Nutty Professor."

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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