Why did Jerry Lewis leave the MDA and its telethon? Jerry Lewis, 85, is allegedly ill after advancing in age over the years. 2011 was supposed to be his last year hosting the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s telethon, but unexpectedly, he has withdrawn.
Lewis had been hosting the telethon since the beginning in 1966. Lewis has quit the telethon and the MDA’s national chairman post.
The association is not selecting another chairman to replace Lewis. They have not given any official reason why Lewis has made his exit, but the comedian’s illness has been known for some time.
Updated Sep 4 2011 – Jerry Lewis retired as the fundraiser and from the MDA. There was a conflicting statement around Aug 22 that suggested he was returning to host the 2011 telethon. But later, a spokesman for Lewis affirmed that the star had left. The MDA said it was because he had retired.
Many fellow comedians disgareed with the MDA’s handling of Lewis’ exit. David Letterman, Larry Miller, Tom Dressen, Harry Schearer are among the comedy circuit celebrities who criticized the way Lewis was given the quick exit. The general consensus was that Lewis should have given at least one more chance to host his final telethon as a farewell. Amidst the heated discussions, Lewis has remained silent on his controversial exit from the MDA.
On Sep 4, 2011, the MDA telethon raised aqlmost $61.5 million. The donations increased by $2.6 million, over 2010’s collection. This was despite having the hours shortened from 21 and 1/2 hours, to 6 hours.
Nigel Lythgoe, Jann Carl, Nancy O’Dell and Alison Sweeney became the co-hosts of the MDA’s 46th annual telethon this year. He revealed that Jerry Lewis was expected to turn up to contribute his effort or presence to the fundraising effort. He said he felt disappointed when the comedian was a no show. The co-hosts and celebrities all made references to Lewis. Many celebrities paid tribute to the 85 year old comedian and his long, 45 year old tradition of hosting the telethon.
The MDA has released conflicting statements about Lewis. In May, they said he would stay on as the chairman of MDA and appear on the telethon. It was only at the eleventh hour that the MDA finally admitted Lewis was no longer a part of the association and telethon.
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