Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon Proceeds, Raises $61.5 Mil
For the first time in 45 years, the MDA Telethon went on without its longtime spokesperson Jerry Lewis. The Sunday night broadcast earned its best showing since 2008, raking in $61.5 million.
Nigel Lythgoe stepped in for the 85-year-old former host, whom he referred to as "retired" at one point during the show, with co-hosts Nancy O'Dell, Jann Carl and Alison Sweeney by his side. The AP reports that the six-hour broadcast was cut down from more than 20 hours last year, while earning $2.6 mil more. It was staged at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Lewis' departure from his long-time gig has not been discussed beyond early August reports, though Lythgoe paid homage to the slapstick legend at one point during the show.
"It isn't possible, Jerry, to replace you, sir," he said on-air. "What you have done for this organization and its families is something close to a miracle and I know that we all want to carry on your legacy."
The 46th annual Labor Day weekend event featured appearances by Jordin Sparks, Billy Ray Cyrus, Richie Sambora, Lady Antebellum, Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez and more. In May, Lewis released a statement that he would make his final appearance on the show to sing his signature tune, "You'll Never Walk Alone," though no such performance came to fruition.
Lewis raised $1.66 billion for the telethon during his tenure as chairman and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1977.