Lewis was the son of a concert pianist and an opera singer. In the mid-1940s he became an executive of the Blaine Thompson Advertising agency, where he created and produced, together with his wife, Mina Bess, the daily radio talk show Luncheon at Sardi's.
In 1948 Lewis co-created the "Toast of the Town" program with Ed Sullivan. In 1955, the TV classic was renamed The Ed Sullivan Show. Together with Sullivan, Lewis personally set the appearance time of each act for the show. In 1956, Elvis Presley appeared on the show, but he was censored because the rumor had it that the rock'n'roll singer had been "hanging a small soft-drink bottle from his groin underneath his pants, and when he wiggles his leg it looks as though his pecker reaches down to his knee!" Therefore, Lewis and Sullivan decided to shoot the singer only from the waist up during his TV performance.
After 12 years, he left the Sullivan Show in order to set up an independent production company. One of his first projects was the ballet The Nutcracker for an ABC Christmas special in 1961. In the mid-1960s, he produced several musical specials for Perry Como.
In 1967, Lewis joined the Norman, Craig & Kummel agency and was elected vice chairman a year later.
In 1979, he published, together with his wife, a book entitled Prime Time which includes many backstage stories from the author's times as a producer.
Lewis was also a founder of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Both Lewis and Sullivan shared the George Foster Peabody Award for humanitarian activities. In 1992, Lewis was elected to the Television Producers Hall of Fame.
In 1993, he died of heart failure at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He is survived by his wife and two children.
- Marlo Lewis and Mina Bess Lewis, Prime Time (1979).
- "Marlo Lewis Is Dead: TV Producer Was 77", New York Times, June 10, 1993.
- See Marlo Lewis and Mina Beth Lewis, Prime Time (1979), p.146.