Jerry Lewis Retires from MDA and the Annual Telethon for Jerry’s Kids
Comedian Jerry Lewis is no longer serving as the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s national chairman, and he won’t be appearing on this year’s Labor Day telethon. Lewis, who is 85 years old, has been the MDA’s national chairman since the early 1950s, and he has hosted the MDA Labor Day telethon since 1966.
Lewis announced back in May that he was retiring as host of the telethon that has become synonymous with his name. He said at the time that he would make one final appearance on the show this year, and that he would continue working as MDA’s national chairman.
However, MDA Association Board Chairman R. Rodney Howell has issued a statement saying that Lewis “will not be appearing on the telethon” and that he won’t be replaced as National Chairman of the Telethon.
Howell added that Lewis “is a world-class humanitarian and we’re forever grateful to him for his more than half century of generous service to MDA.”
The statement provided no explanation for these moves, and calls to the MDA national office weren’t immediately returned Wednesday night. Representatives for Lewis also did not immediately respond to messages left for comment.
Lewis has been in bad health in recent years. He’s been fighting heart problems, the crippling lung disease pulmonary fibrosis and a debilitating back condition.
Love him or hate him, and whatever you think of his movies and his manic personna, for more than four decades, Jerry Lewis has provided the spark and the energy that made the MDA telethons hugely successful. They’ve raised more than $1 billion dollars for MDA research, and a national network of some 200 hospital-affiliated clinics has opened since Lewis got involved in the telethon.
It just won’t be the same without him.