3:00 AM EST, February 8, 2010
A little boy was once the apple of his famous father's eye. He even clowned around just like his Dad, legendary comedian Jerry Lewis. Joseph Lewis was the youngest of Jerry's six sons. He looked like his father.
But now we're learning the shocking truth that Jerry's kid is dead of a drug overdose, not a penny in his pocket at age 45. He once lived in a homeless shelter and ate his meals in a soup kitchen.
Jerry Lewis disowned his son 20 years ago and when contacted about his death, reportedly didn't even offer to pay for a funeral.
"I just can't even understand still how he cannot forgive his dead son," said Joe Lewis' ex-wife Kim who was informed of his death by Joe's oldest brother Gary, leader of the sixties band, Gary Lewis and the Playboys.
"And he told me that, you know, that nobody would do anything because Jerry had told the other brothers, 'Keep it quiet. I don't want anybody to know about this.' "
What led Jerry to cut his youngest son out of his life forever? It was this 1989 National Enquirer article in which Joe accused his dad of viciously beating his kids. Allegations Jerry vehemently denied.
Joe said of his father, "Living with him was pure hell. I've tried drugs. I've tried therapy and the truth still hurts, my father doesn't love me."
It turns out Jerry Lewis really wanted a daughter when Joe was born in 1964, not another son. He even sang about it on his network TV show with his pregnant wife and five other sons watching from the balcony.
"Joe did always tell me that he always felt he was a big disappointment to his father because he wasn't a girl," said Kim.
Joe began drinking and using drugs as a teenager. He couldn't hold a steady job. But he was tormented by demons. He was diagnosed with manic depression and would sit for hours, sorting through thousands of baseball cards.
Kim and Joe had two baby boys, Bobby and Dan. But the marriage lasted only three years.
"There were times where he would shut all the blinds in the house and sleep for days," said Kim.
Joe would watch his father on the annual telethon for Jerry's kids, but his own letters to his dad would come back unopened. He drifted from place-to-place and at one point lived in a Los Angeles motel. When money ran out he got a bunk in a church homeless shelter.
The autopsy report says he finally died from "acute morphine intoxication" in Utah last October 24th. His body was cremated.
"He never wanted to be alone. And I was afraid that he died alone," said Kim.
Joe Lewis's two sons today, 20-year-old Bobby and 18-year-old Dan are the grandsons Jerry Lewis has never met. Dan looks like his grandfather, but doubts he'll ever get any closer to him than watching him on TV.
Bobby said, "I'd really like to meet him, but that's probably never going to happen. It shows me that even very funny people can have a darker side."
When Joseph remarried, he had a third son who also has never met his grandfather.
INSIDE EDITION reached out to Jerry Lewis for an interview. He declined, but in an e-mail told us his son Joseph was "a dope addict for his first 23 years."