The MDA Telethon Without Jerry Lewis Didn’t Have a Chance
Well, the Labor Day holiday weekend is here already. Where has the time gone? Even with a pandemic, it seems like the year is flying by us. Speaking of flying by, this Labor Day will mark a decade since Jerry Lewis last appeared on the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon on Labor Day weekend. Unfortunately, the Telethon no longer exists.
The demise of the Telethon, in my opinion, happened when they fired Jerry Lewis. Lewis was a part of the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon from 1966 to 2010. For 44 years Jerry Lewis, who passed away on August 20, 2017, brought some of the best entertainers to our homes through our television sets and for a great cause to raise money to fight M.D.
It all ended prior to the 2011 show when he was asked not to return for reasons that are still unknown today and without him, the telethon suffered. After Lewis was dismissed, the 24 hour telethon was whittled down to just 3 hours. It ran a few years under different names and eventually discontinued in 2015.
I can recall the past years when WGEM-TV 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 TV during the next local cut-in.
With Jerry Lewis no longer a part of the Telethon, contributions dropped significantly and so did viewership. The decision to end Lewis’ participation in the show just might have been one of the worst mistakes ever made in television.