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September 2, 2015

Jerry Lewis: 5 Memorable Moments from the MDA Telethons

by Moviefone Staff, posted Aug 4th 2011 7:00PM
Jerry LewisJerry Lewis, who has hosted the MDA Labor Day telethon since 1966, has been relieved of his hosting duties. He will not be present at this year's event.

Let's be honest here: yes, the telethon is a great event that has raised billions for the fight against muscular dystrophy – but, those are a lot of hours to fill every year and most of those hours are filled with, well, filler. But! Over the course of the last 45 years, there have been many, many memorable moments. Look: John Lennon! KISS! The Jackson 5! Joan Crawford and her daughter – a daughter who would in the future write 'Mommie Dearest.'

So, to commemorate Mr. Lewis's contribution to society (and popular culture), here are five memorable moments from his telethon.

Reunion with Dean Martin – 1976

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis ended their comedy partnership in 1956 after Martin, feeling underappreciated, noticed that most of the attention was being paid to the manic Lewis. In 1976, orchestrated by Ol' Blue Eyes himself, Martin, cigarette in hand, (and possibly a tad sauced) made a surprise appearance on Lewis' telethon. This was the first public appearance featuring the two stars in 20 years.

John Lennon Sings 'Imagine' – 1972

Only a couple years after the Beatles breakup, John Lennon appeared on Lewis' telethon to sing a song off of his latest solo album of the same name, 'Imagine.'

Joan and Christina Crawford – 1968

So! This is kind of awkward. "Where's the girl?" Lewis asks Joan Crawford. "Oh," Crawford responds, "you were told about her." Yes, he was. And, in ten years, we all will be quite familiar with Christina Crawford who would write the best selling takedown of Joan's parenting skills, 'Mommie Dearest.' As soon as Christina comes on stage, watch as Joan pretty abruptly drags Christina off of the stage while barking, "We have work to do. Come on." Yikes.

KISS Wants You to Fight Against Muscular Dystrophy 1979

Hey, we all love KISS. But there's something peculiar about hearing about the grave effects of a debilitating disease from Peter Criss while he's wearing cat makeup. Also, if you wait until the end, Jerry Lewis is not a fan of KISS's stylistic choices.

The Jackson 5 Perform 'Dancing Machine' – 1974

If there were ever a doubt about Michael Jackson's talent, watch this clip of a post adolescent,
pre strange adult Jackson absolutely killing it with his dance moves during the telethon.

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I am so sorry that Jerry Lewis will not be on the telethon. I have no idea why he is not and am sure it must be a very good reason.
I have heard about Jerry Lewis since I lived in Averill Park NY where as a yound man he worked at Ben and Irmas drug store in Averill Park I wonder if he remembers them at all. Iwas good friends with there daughters and loved Ben and Irma. I know they used to go to NY to see him perform there and always spoke well of him.
I don't know if he will receive this but do not know how to write him. Tell him I will always think so highly of him and hope he is doing well Sandie (maiden name Plant)

August 11 2011 at 3:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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August 04 2011 at 11:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was a volunteer in the mid 70's as young teen answering those phones during the MDA telethon (for the ENTIRE event, yearly) and was inspired by Jerry Lewis SO MUCH to continue my life in this caring approach of life with volunteering when and wherever I can; the pay-it-forward approach; and a general compassion for the humanity of whomever I can touch. He will be truly missed...particularly, not singing his closing song...You'll NEVER walk alone....

August 04 2011 at 10:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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