The Family Jewels (film)

The Family Jewels is a 1965 American comedy film. It was filmed from January 18 to April 2, 1965, and was released by Paramount Pictures on July 1, 1965. The film was co-written, directed, and produced by Jerry Lewis who also played seven roles in the film. Lewis' co-star, Donna Butterworth, made only one other film, Paradise, Hawaiian Style, with Elvis Presley. Gary Lewis & The Playboys have a cameo in which they sing "Little Miss Go-Go"; their hit song "This Diamond Ring" is also featured.

The Family Jewels
Directed byJerry Lewis
Produced byJerry Lewis
Written byJerry Lewis
Bill Richmond
StarringJerry Lewis
Sebastian Cabot
Music byPete King
CinematographyW. Wallace Kelley
Edited byJohn Woodcock
Jerry Lewis Productions
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • July 1, 1965 (1965-07-01)
Running time
99 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2,600,000 (US/ Canada rentals)[1]
824,903 admissions (France)[2]


Donna Peyton (Donna Butterworth) is a ten-year-old girl who inherits a $30,000,000 fortune from her millionaire industrialist father. Per terms of his will, Donna must choose one of her six uncles (all played by Jerry Lewis) to become her new "father". Lewis also plays Willard Woodward, the family chauffeur who takes Donna to all of her uncles to stay with them for two weeks. Donna's uncles are:

  • James Peyton, a ferryboat captain, her father's oldest brother who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
  • Everett Peyton, a famous circus clown who hates kids and has moved to Switzerland to avoid U. S. taxes.
  • Julius Peyton, a professional photographer who photographs female models.
  • Captain Edward "Eddie" Peyton, a pilot based in Los Angeles, California who owns his own airline ("Eddie's Airways, the Airline for the Birds") consisting of one plane, a Ford Trimotor.
  • Skylock Peyton, a Holmesian detective who loves tea and lived in England until he lost his passport and moved back to the United States. He is accompanied by his faithful companion, Dr. Matson (Sebastian Cabot) but Skylock pays more attention to a pool game in Robert Strauss's pool parlour than to Donna.
  • Bugsy Peyton, a gangster who everyone believed killed by the mob. Only interested in Donna's inheritance, he kidnaps her. Willard rescues her by tricking the gangsters into believing they are surrounded by armed soldiers.

The more time she spends with her uncles, the more Donna realizes that Willard should be her father: he was always a father to her even when her real father was still alive, because her father was too busy to spend time with her. Unfortunately the family lawyers will not allow her to choose Willard, insisting that she must choose one of her uncles. At the last minute, Uncle Everett shows up unexpectedly, asking Donna to choose him. To everyone's surprise, Donna agrees, and the two leave together. As they walk down the hallway, Donna reveals that she knows the truth: "Uncle Everett" is actually Willard in disguise. She recognized him because, as always, his shoes were on the wrong feet.


  • Jerry Lewis as Willard Woodward / James Peyton / Everett Peyton / Julius Peyton / Capt. Eddie Peyton / Skylock Peyton / 'Bugs' Peyton
  • Sebastian Cabot as Dr. Matson
  • Jay Adler as Mr. Lyman, Attorney


Everett Peyton's clown make-up was devised by Jerry Lewis for 3 Ring Circus. It was reused by Lewis a second time in Hardly Working.

The character of Julius Peyton is similar to the character of Julius Kelp in Jerry Lewis' earlier film The Nutty Professor.

Home media

The film was released twice on DVD. Paramount released it on October 12, 2004 and Warner Archive re-released the film on made-to-order DVD on June 20, 2013.[3]


Several of the film's characters were caricatured in Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down, an animated series.


  1. This figure consists of anticipated rentals accruing distributors in North America. See "Big Rental Pictures of 1965", Variety, 5 January 1966 p 6
  2. Box office information for film in France at Box Office Story
  3. "The Family Jewels (Paramount)". Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved July 13, 2013.
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