Jerry Lewis has retired, hosts of new shortened MD Telethon announce
The hosts of this year’s Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon said Sunday that Jerry Lewis retired from the organization and its yearly fundraiser as they solicited donations and trotted out as much celebrity punch as organizers could muster in the annual program’s first year without the beloved icon.
The comments about Lewis, whose name was synonymous with the telethon since it started in 1966, were the charity’s first since announcing his split from the organization last month.
Lewis publicist Candi Cazau declined comment to The Associated Press when told of the statements that opened the telethon on Sunday.
Inextricably bonded to Lewis, the MDA invoked his name early and often as it sought to raise at least $1 more than the $58.9 million raised last year for neuromuscular research, clinics and summer camp for youngsters known as “Jerry’s Kids.”
Co-host Nigel Lythgoe said during his opening comments that Lewis, 85, seemed to be passing the torch last year when the comedian offered Lythgoe his seat as Lewis took a break and Lythgoe was coming on the air.
The telethon staged at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa in Las Vegas was shortened to six hours from 211/2 hours last year. It was broadcast live to the Eastern time zone from 6 p.m.-12 a.m. EDT and tape-delayed in other U.S. zones.
Tallies of how much money was raised in the telethon will not be known until later today.