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Muscular Dystrophy Association Needs Jerry Lewis Back!

Jerry Lewis 2009
Photo By: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

It was September 4th, 1966 and the television world saw its first Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon.  That’s right, 46 years ago today.  Jerry Lewis is no longer a part of the telethon. He was asked not to return before last year’s show for reasons that are still unknown today and without him, the telethon has apparently suffered. So much so that the 24 hour telethon is now down to just 3 hours. Those three hours aired Sunday night and I one didn’t even see a minute of it.  How sad. I can recall the past years when WGEM would host the local portion of it with numerous “local” segments featuring local people.  It was fun to watch because you never knew who would be on the next local cut-in.

For years I, along with my co-host, Dennis Oliver, would actually live on the pavement overnight in a house that was built with Pepsi cases.  We would sell each case with a portion of the cost going to Muscular Dystrophy.  By the end of 24 hours we usually had the house down to  its foundation and we would go home knowing we helped the cause.  One year we sold it so fast that we thought we wouldn’t have to actually sleep on the pavement overnight and might even get to go home and sleep in our own beds. Then, the Pepsi truck showed up and rebuilt the house. Oh, the stories we could tell of the events that took place in that Pepsi House.  We never knew who would drop by.

One thing that was consistent was that Jerry Lewis would be hosting the telethon. He is not doing so anymore and the luster of the event unfortunately has diminished. It’s so sad. Lewis is now 86 years old and going to direct his first musical on Broadway.  The show is called the “Nutty Professor” which is based on his 1963 movie of the same name.

Here’s to Jerry and all he has done for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and “Jerry’s Kids” .  It would be great to see that first “Nutty Professor” Broadway show filled with nothing but Jerry’s Kids. What an honor that would be to a guy that gave so much of himself.

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