After serving as the host for the Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon for over 40 years, last year the MDA telethon was held without comedian Jerry Lewis. The former Labor Day weekend long telethon was cut to less than a single day at six hours; and now it appears that there are even more drastic changes in store for the long running charity money raiser.
After calling Las Vegas home for a number of years, MDA is moving their telethon to the city of Angels – Los Angeles and will further reduce the event to the length of a prime time evenings worth of programming - a mere three hours. Instead of being held in an event center, the telethon is being moved to the CBS studios in Culver City – a suburb in the greater LA area.
Lewis’ rep said the comedian was traveling and had no comment from the long time former host.
Lewis started the Labor Day tradition in 1966 with a 22 hour event at a TV station in New York City. In 1973 he moved the telethon to Las Vegas with periodic productions in Los Angeles; but for the past six years the telethon has been held at a hotel in Las Vegas.
In his 45 year run as the host of the MDA telethon, Lewis has been credited with raising $1.66 billion for the MDA. Muscular Dystrophy is a degenerative muscular disease. The money Lewis raised went into research for finding a cure and to help care for those who were diagnosed with the disease.
During his time as MDA telethon host, Lewis was known for his marathon hosting stints, but after severing ties with the entertainer last year, MDA used several different personalities to host their telethon. While Lewis was not in attendance during the six hour event nor was his signature rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” played, MDA did air silent video clips of Lewis during the course of the event.
Born Joseph Levitch on Newark, New Jersey on March 16,1926; Lewis made his television premiere in 1948. He spent 10 years as one half of the duo Martin and Lewis with Dean Martin. Lewis got his start in show business in vaudeville.