The MDA Telethon in 2011 raised $61.5 million in six hours on the Labor Day weekend without the familiar face of Jerry Lewis. The event's goal is to raise awareness for muscular dystrophy, ALS, and related diseases and raise money to fund research for cures.
Legendary entertainer Jerry Lewis was synonymous with the event and hosted it from 1966 to 2010. In fact, it was even previously named the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. Lewis claims that his efforts, dating back to the 1950s, have raised over $2.6 billion for the muscular dystrophy cause.
In a May 2011 press release, the MDA announced that Jerry Lewis will retire from hosting the telethon by making a final appearance and performing his signature song You'll Never Walk Alone.
Then, in a short two-paragraph August 3 press release, the MDA announced that Lewis has competed his run as its national chairman and will not be appearing on the Telethon.
Both Lewis and the MDA have been mum on what changed between May and August.
In a July 29 article, Entertainment Weekly reported that Lewis slammed the reality TV industry. The kids who're on American Idol, they're all McDonalds wipe outs...The industry have destroyed itself, he said.
Ironically, the hosts of the MDA Telethon in 2011 included Nigel Lythgoe from American Idol, Jann Carl from The Biggest Loser, and Alison Sweeney from The Biggest Loser.
Even more ironic, these reality personalities lapped tributes and praise to Lewis at the 2011 event.
If this is the way we're going culturally, then we should go all the way and just tell grandpa we don't need him for thanksgiving, said comedian Larry Miller, reported CBS, regarding Lewis' absence at the 2011 telethon.
In my 42 years in show business, I've seen a great deal of injustice, this ranks right up to the top, said comedian Tom Dreesen, reported CBS.