SINGAPORE - Hollywood stuntman- turned-comedian Vernon Lewis once dressed up as an orchid and serenaded office workers at Raffles Place. The American, who had been based in Singapore since 2011, died in hospital on Sunday, after suffering a heart attack at home. He was 36.
He leaves behind his wife of six months, Mrs Kristiina Unnuk Lewis.
The burly Mr Lewis enjoyed a decade-long career in the entertainment industry, working as a stunt double on popular television series such as Heroes and CSI: NY, as well as box office hits like Thor and The A-Team.
He was a stuntman with Universal Studios Singapore, but also developed a reputation as a stand-up comedian and musician who worked both the local and international comedy club circuits.
The Washington D.C. native lived in Singapore with his 31-year-old wife. They first met two years ago at the Home Club. "Vernon was unbelievably good at everything he did: a stuntman, a musician, an athlete, a comedian," Mrs Lewis told The Straits Times yesterday.
"But first and foremost he was an entertainer. Absolutely selflessly, he had an enormous desire to make people feel good, to forget their troubles and just laugh. And oh they did."
The couple had just returned home from lunch on Sunday when "somebody in heaven pulled the wrong plug, stopping Vern's heart in a split second", she said.
Mr Lewis was rushed to Singapore General Hospital, where he died shortly after, cutting short the couple's plans to have children and move back to the United States to further his career.
Fans, friends and colleagues around the world were shocked by Mr Lewis' sudden passing and have flooded the couple's Facebook pages with condolence messages in the last two days. An online memorial was also set up to pay tribute to Mr Lewis through music, photos and videos.
More than 300 people turned up at Singapore Casket on Monday in bright attire for a "colourful send-off" for a man remembered for his cheery spirit, said Mr Lewis' best friend and fellow comedian Matthew Giffen.
The family is preparing to send his body back to Washington D.C. today, and will hold a funeral there on Sunday. There will be a final farewell in Singapore a few weeks later.
Said Mr Giffen: "There is a big Vernon-size hole in all our hearts which will never be filled, but what will happen is we will move forward and make our lives incredible because it is what he did and what he would have wanted."
This article was published on May 14 in The Straits Times.
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