However, the absent Lewis was on the minds of many, and Nigel Lythgoe, who co-hosted this year's telethon with Jann Carl said he was sad that his predecessor didn't participate, but that the MDA needs to move on to ensure the fundraiser continues.
Lythgoe also told the Associated Press that he'd been expecting Lewis to show up, either during the telecast, or to pre-tape his signature song 'You'll Never Walk Alone.'
"I was fully expecting him to turn up at any point and join that six hours -- and I'm sorry he didn't," Lythgoe said. "And hopefully another year he might. I mean, he knows that he is always welcome on the telethon. It's his baby."
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.
MDA Chairman of the Board of Directors R. Rodney Howell, M.D., said in a statement Wednesday, "Jerry Lewis is a world-class humanitarian and we're forever grateful to him for his more than half century of generous service to MDA. We will not be replacing him as MDA national chairman, and he will not be appearing on the Telethon."
The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon, which just had its 45th annual show last month, has announced that starting next year the show will no longer be 21 hours long. Instead, the show will change to a six-hour primetime special format.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
It's hard to say how we should feel about this. On one hand, the telethon is a unique kind of television that they don't anymore, an annual show that runs over two days and is live and has both a strong national and local focus. On the other hand, they don't do telethons like this for other causes, and it seems like this is a relic of a TV era that has gone by (for better or worse).
No, not that F word. The other one. The one that's a derogatory word for a gay person.
Check out the video at Breitbart. In the 18th hour of his annual MDA Telethon, Lewis walks about the stage and the audience making comments on various people, and at one point stops and talks about the cameraman and his family (supposedly). He says "your family has come to see you...you remember Bart, your oldest son...Jesse, the illiterate f****t..." The audience laughs and moans a bit, but I'm trying to figure out exactly what Lewis says here. Does he actually say that word, or does he start to say "fatty" or something similar? You make the call.
Whatever he says, it's an odd piece of video for sure. I guess that what happens when you're up for 18 hours.
UPDATE: Video is embedded after the jump.
UPDATE #2: He admits he did use the word, and has apologized.
Lewis was supposed to perform live for the first time in five years in July, but that now has been cancelled. He also appeared at a Friar's Club Roast in his honor on Friday night.
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