YouTube/Shout! Factory | Instagram/iamemmanuellewis
Source: YouTube/Shout! Factory | Instagram/iamemmanuellewis

‘Webster’s Emmanuel Lewis Lost House He Shared with Mom at 41 after He Became Top Chart Singer in Japan

Edduin Carvajal
Jan 16, 2022
10:00 A.M.
Share this pen
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmail

"Webster" star Emmanuel Lewis had a short but successful music career in Japan. Unfortunately, the Georgia home he shared with his late mother was foreclosed for unpaid taxes.

Advertisement

Few child actors were as prominent as "Webster" star Emmanuel Lewis in Asia. Despite his unusual small height, he conquered the Japanese music charts in the 1980s.

Sadly, he had a hard time getting steady jobs in the entertainment industry over the years. In 2012, he made headlines for losing the Georgia property he and his late mother shared. Here's what Lewis has been up to after "Webster" ended.

Emmanuel Lewis in the first season of "Webster" from a January 2011 YouTube video [left]. Lewis and his mother from an April 2021 Instagram post | Photo: YouTube/Shout! Factory - Instagram.com/iamemmanuellewis

Advertisement

FROM T.V. COMMERCIAL ACTOR TO MUSIC STAR

Born in Brooklyn in March 1971, Lewis started making a name for himself in the entertainment industry in 1982 when Burger King hired him to appear in a series of T.V. commercials.

The young boy was so charismatic that other companies hired him for their ads. He became so famous that he even appeared on the "Tonight Show with Johnny Carson."

Emmanuel Lewis on June 3, 1983 | Photo: Getty Images

Advertisement

ABC signed Lewis in 1983 when he was just 12. Since the pilot season had already ended, the network included him in a show starring Alex Karras and Susan Clark called "Another Ballgame."

The show eventually changed its name to "Webster," and it followed the lives of George and Katherine Papadopolis (Karras and Clark) after they adopted Webster Long (Lewis). The show ran for six seasons between 1983 and 1989.

[Lewis] conquered the music charts in 1981 with his debut single.

Susan Clark, Emmanuel Lewis, and Alex Karras on June 3, 1983 | Photo: Getty Images

Advertisement

WORRIES ABOUT HIS UNUSUAL SHORT HEIGHT

Webster was the main character, and he drove most episodes' storylines. Lewis did such an outstanding job that he was nominated to four Young Artist Awards and took home three People's Choice Awards in the 1980s. 

While Lewis's successful acting career was impressive, his mother was worried about his height. He stopped growing at 40 inches, making him one of the shortest men in the entertainment industry.

The actor's mother noticed that other kids his age kept growing, so she took him to the doctor. After running some tests, they couldn't determine why he wouldn't grow.

Advertisement

Emmanuel Lewis on April 14, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia | Photo: Getty Images

FORECLOSED HOME

Things stalled after "Webster" ended in 1989. In the 1990s, Lewis made a few guest appearances on T.V., including "Family Matters," "Moesha," and "Malcolm & Eddie." 

Advertisement

Lewis worked in "One on One" in 2005, but he stopped getting acting gigs after his brief appearance in 2007's "Kickin' It Old Skool." That year, he was one of the stars in the reality T.V. show "The Surreal Life." 

He and six other ex-superstars, including rapper-turned-preacher Hammer and former Motley Crue vocalist Vince Neil, spent ten days in a Hollywood Hills mansion with no access to cellphones, money, or internet.

Advertisement

Lewis admitted that he was a private person, and his appearance on the show didn't contradict it because the cameras didn't follow him around his house. He even described it as a sitcom.

The "Webster" star also had an entertainment company called Emmanuel Lewis Entertainment Enterprises, but he dissolved it in 2008.

His non-profit organization and another company called Global Entertainment Media Company were also dissolved in August 2011. The following year, TMZ reported that Lewis's home in Georgia had been foreclosed. 

Advertisement

Lewis's property was sold at an auction in September 2011 for $56,000 after the actor failed to pay state, county, and school taxes between 2007 and 2010.

The total debt was just over $44,000. Lewis's mother, who co-owned the house, was also mentioned on the foreclosure documents, but it was unclear if she lived with her son.

Jackson wanted to check them into a hotel as father and son.

Advertisement

HIS SHORT BUT SUCCESSFUL MUSIC CAREER IN JAPAN

Lewis is best known to American audiences for his outstanding run in "Webster." In Japan, though, he conquered the music charts in 1981 with his debut single, "City Connection." 

The song reached number 2 on the Oricon chart and made him a star in the Asian country. He even starred in a T.V. film made for Japanese audiences. If that wasn't enough, Lewis performed on the Tokyo Broadcasting Network during the mid- 1990s. 

Advertisement

Nowadays, Lewis is 50 years old and stays healthy by eating right and practicing Tae Kwon Do. As a Black Belt, Lewis learned self-discipline while exercising and stretching his muscles.

Lewis also keeps his fans posted by posting photos and videos on social media. In January 2022, he uploaded a video listening to some music from a yacht with a few friends. "Let's do everything better in 2022," he wrote in the caption. 

Advertisement

In April 2021, he uploaded a slideshow with images of his late mother with him, Muhammad Al, and Patti LaBelle. He wished her a happy heavenly birthday and pointed out he and his siblings missed her.

Speaking of celebrities, one of Lewis's friends in the 1980s was the King of Pop Michael Jackson. The "Billie Jean" singer invited Lewis to the trailer of his "Thriller" video in 1983 when the young actor was only 12. 

Advertisement

Jackson also took Lewis and model Brooke Shields to the 1984 Grammy Awards. Later that year, Jackson invited Lewis to his "Victory" tour and even brought him on stage.

Their unusual relationship attracted much attention when Jackson wanted to check them into a hotel as father and son. Still, Lewis's family sincerely appreciated Jackson's friendship.

Advertisement

When the "They Don't Care About Us" singer set his hair on fire for a Pepsi commercial in 1984, Lewis's family took care of him and even invited him to their home. About it, Lewis said:

"I was like, 'we're coming to kidnap you.' So me, my mom, my brothers, we all took him into our house. [Jackson] literally recuperated for months living in my condo when I went to work."

Their friendship prevailed over the years, and in 1990, Lewis received an invitation to the Jackson family reunion. Lewis even talked about Jackson's molestation claims and said he never did anything wrong to him. "Webster's" fans would love to see Lewis back in the entertainment business.

Advertisement