OIder brother of Buddy Lester.
Studied dance with Kathleen Okranski in Chicago and Mike Morkin in New York City.
Alice Elgie Wall married Jerry Lester in 1951. She was born in Yuma, Tennessee, USA, on November 12, 1918 and died in Miami, Florida, USA, on May 31, 2004. She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, and in the 1940 U. S. Census her occupation was listed as a waitress.
Ardelle Unger, (February 17, 1914 - October 10, 1960) a dancer, and Jerry Lester were married in 1934. She had appeared in Arizona to Broadway and Dancing Lady in 1933. Following their marriage she was a dancer in 1936 in King of Burlesque. They had three children - Judy T. Lester Stein - January 17,1938, Joan Lester Busler - September 13, 1939, and (Jay D. Lester - December 31, 1941. Walter Winchell's syndicated column announced that Judy T. Lester married Pvt. Philip Stein on December 17, 1958.
Started his career as a boy ballet dancer. A torn ligament halted that career and he turned to comedy. In 1974 he claimed that he was in his first race riot when he was eight and quickly learned to use his fists "so I would survive." At 14 he said he became a professional boxer and at 16 made his own living by clerking at the A&P in Jackson Park. BoxRec has no bouts listed under his birth name or stage name. He had a burning desire to be educated and graduated from Senn High School and Northwestern University. During the summer months when school was not in session he played a lot of small towns in the Midwest.
On December 31, 1984, he was performing at a New Years Eve show at a Miami hotel. He forgot his lines because of Alzheimers. His wife, Alice, said it was terrible to see him struggle and told him, "Darlin', don't ever get on stage again." That was his last appearance as an entertainer.
While co-starring at the Copa with singer Carol Bruce, Lester was criticized on opening night for using risqué material. He later was better accepted by spinning a top and by reciting Boy Scout exam answers.
Buried at Lake Charles Park Cemetery, Bel-Nor, St. Louis County, MO.
It was reported in the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle in 1931 that J.T. Goldberg (James T.), a newspaperman and father of Jerry Lester, visited him for the first time since his son left for vaudeville a year and a half earlier. Walter Winchell reported in his nationally syndicated column in 1958 that the father had been a Hearst editorial writer for 20 years.
Late in his career Lester's favorite role was playing Pseudolis in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" on Broadway. He then toured with the national company that did the show in summer theaters, stock and at every major theater in the United States and Canada.
The San Francisco Chronicle in early 1941 wrote that "among the headliners who appeared locally during the Christmas holidays and appearing with the troupe, is Jerry Lester, the one-man riot.".