Why Did Jerry Lewis Leave the Telethon?

The star’s sudden departure last year from his Labor Day showcase has still not been explained. But it’s not a pretty story

  • Share
  • Read Later
Marco Grob for TIME

Jerry Lewis, photographed at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville.

Not since, oh, Martin and Lewis has there been a showbiz breakup as sudden and inexplicable. Last year the Muscular Dystrophy Association announced that Jerry Lewis was stepping down as host of its annual Labor Day telethon, the marathon TV event he had made his personal showcase, soap box and sentimental journey for 45 years. With the show cut from 21.5 hours to just 6, Lewis was being replaced by a quartet of hosts, the MDA said, and would make an appearance only at the end of the show, to say goodbye and sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” one last time.

Then what seemed the sad but inevitable end of an era became something uglier. A few weeks before the show, the MDA issued a curt announcement that Jerry Lewis would not be making a goodbye appearance after all  — and was resigning from his post as MDA national chairman. The telethon went on without him (raising $61.5 million, more than the previous year with Lewis, according to the MDA) and included a filmed tribute to him and warm words of thanks from various participants during the show. But no Jerry.

(PHOTOS: Still Nutty: Portraits of Jerry Lewis by Marco Grob)

A year later, Lewis has been all but erased from the telethon’s memory. This year’s show, airing the Sunday night before Labor Day, has been further downsized, to just three hours, with no named host and a smattering of B-list guest stars (Carrie Underwood, Will.i.am, Khloe Kardashian). It is no longer called a telethon, but simply an “entertainment special,” and there will be no tote board tallying the donations. In the press announcement of the event, Jerry Lewis’s name is nowhere mentioned.

The story behind Lewis’s departure remains untold. But a few things have become clear in the year since the awkward public breakup. Jerry Lewis was dumped by the MDA, the charity he had been identified with since the 1950s. He’s still bitter about it. And the telethon is withering without him.

(MORE: Jerry Lewis’ Oscar)

Lewis still won’t talk about what happened. “That’s not a place I want to go. Because if I go there, you’ll never get me back,” he said when I raised the subject with him recently in Nashville, where he’s directing a new stage musical, The Nutty Professor. “It’s not that I don’t want to talk about it. But I have already ingested all that I want from that whole f—ing adventure.”

The pain is not hard to discern. “This was a hurt man,” says Richard Belzer, the stand-up comic and Law and Order co-star, who has developed a close, almost father-son relationship with Lewis. Jerry’s goodbye appearance was scrapped after he and the charity could not agree on its format and length. Lewis wanted to do it live; the MDA floated several pre-taped options  — “all insulting,” Belzer claims. “It’s as if they were trying to provoke him to leave.” In the end, he did. “It was a moral outrage, a PR nightmare and a sad commentary on this incredible philanthropic career,” says Belzer.

(MORETop 10 Celebrity Do-Gooders)

To be sure, dealing with Lewis, now 86, has never been a walk in the park. His annual Labor Day orgy of sentiment, self-regard and showbiz schmaltz was for many years something of a punch line. (“You know why they love Jerry Lewis in France,” a comedian told me not long ago. “In France, they don’t get the telethon.”) Still, he raised an estimated $2 billion for “Jerry’s kids” over more than a half-century with the MDA, and a well-orchestrated, celebrity-studded farewell to him on the telethon might have been a fundraising bonanza.

MDA officials continue to maintain that Lewis simply retired. “We honor Jerry Lewis, we admire the work he’s done for us, and we respect his decision to retire,” says Valerie Cwik, the MDA’s interim president. (She replaced Gerald Weinberg, who was reportedly behind Lewis’s ouster and who stepped down as president last December, after 54 years with the organization.) And she insists that the changes in the telethon are part of a necessary evolution in fundraising strategy, to put less emphasis on the once-a-year event. “It has to change because the American audience has changed,” says Cwik. “A 21.5-hour show doesn’t fit in a 140-character world.”

Neither, apparently, does Jerry Lewis.

Read the full story in this week’s issue of TIME.

234 comments
AlexSmuckler
AlexSmuckler

Starting in 1950 Jerry Lewis then with his partner Dean Martin had the first Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. Starting in 1966 Jerry Lewis started the annual MD Telethon and in those 45 years raised over 2 billion dollars to help research for a cure for Muscular Dystrophy and assist people who were suffering its effects. How can you people say the telethon is no longer needed. It gave mass exposure to the cause and was a Labor day tradition which you people have destroyed. Good work. 

LindaAndrews
LindaAndrews

You people lie like a rug, Jerry Lewis made the telethon and I know for a fact thousands stopped watching when he was taken off. I don't believe you raised 61 million more in 6 hours but if you did it was because everything was last minute so those that made their donations already did. I watched the telethon from when I was a little girl and so disappointed you'd remove the man that made the show, his mistake was thinking because he was getting older he'd hand it over and just do the job he was best at. The kids will suffer because of you're greediness and not wanting to spend money filming it. 

CamilaWALLACE
CamilaWALLACE

My lover left me in 2 years ago. he did not contact me, wouldn't answer my calls and emails, During this period I contacted many casters without results. . But I never lost hope until i got to meet this powerful caster ROBINSONBUCKLER@ (yahoo). com  and he did the most wonderful spell for me and after 3 days everything changed, my lover came back, his love spell works fast even in the most complex circumstances, I am recommending his love spell to every couple who wants to get back together, I can say Mr Robinson possessed all the qualities you want if you want to get your lover back, it was like a dream to me, he will solve your relationship problem

RalphE.Dietz
RalphE.Dietz

I have watched the telethon, and been a part of it my entire life. Since the geniuses behind it decided Jerry was too old, I am too old to donate! I feel really ripped off for the boot drives I was involved in, and the money I put in myself. Never Again.

MikeBarker
MikeBarker

Just as other people here have stated, a cure was found and this is why he is gone. If you want to know more about it research Dr. Joel Wallach.

breezemike
breezemike

The truth about why Jerry Lewis was sacked is very simple!!!!! He was fired because a cure was found for Muscular Dystrophy and those that found the cure (scientifically proven beyond a shadow of doubt to be a deficiency decease) wanted Jerry to be the first to announce it as he had raised millions with his wonderful telethon. 

However the medical system which is owned by the pharmaceutical giants who put profit before people made sure that a cure will not be investigated as that would end their profit and the Muscular Dystrophy Association would be disbanded with everyone loosing their jobs. So they fired him gaged him with a contractual law suit if he spoke out and sent him on a world cruise to get him out the way. "Thats the real truth"!!!!!!!!!! 

We live in a medical system that is only concerned with managing chronic illness not curing it. To cure Chronic deceases means the loss of billions of dollars in profit and possibly the collapse of an industry that employs so many. 

I know this as a researcher over many years and its up to you to do the same if you really want to find "The real truth about health" 

Start looking towards the essential nutrients our bodies need that our body can't make as the fundamental reason why we will probably suffer from a chronic decease in our lifetime. Take care, Stay healthy and god bless Jerry because he is a man so inhumanly fired for daring to tell the truth and shame on those who silenced him and shut him up because he has a contract that gages him legally for telling the world. Mike


OikwoboTreece
OikwoboTreece

Hello to the world i am Leroy..i want to say that Dr Bully the mighty spell caster from India. He is the only spell caster that can help you solve your problem in 48 hours...after passing through a lot of problems in my marriage, i contacted Dr Bully Shrine in Mumbai India and in 48 hours, my wife who we were divorced for 4 years is back to me for ever...Dr Bully is highly spiritual and can never disappoint you in any problem. No matter what type of Relationship, Marital, Getting Pregnant, Want a Baby,Court Case and disease you have, he is definitely the best answer for you in 48 hours...his Temple address in Mumbai is 33-D, Gitanjali, Plot 52, Sector 17, Vashi, Navi Mumbai India..  and his Email address is bullytemple@yahoo.com
he is the solution to your problem..once again the temple email address is bullytemple@yahoo.com

scepterandisle
scepterandisle

Actually, I think there's something else going on. Read a report of Lewis's "An Evening With Jerry Lewis" online (http://www.vice.com/read/jerry-lewis-is-still-alive) and Lewis sounds like he's developed a serious personality disorder that makes him sound like a genuine sociopath. My guess is that between his back pain and addiction to Percodan, his life may border on the unlivable, which is what the author of the article implies. He needs to be taking another type of medicine, an antipsychotic, and fast. If the MDA got wind of the article at "Vice", it's no wonder they asked him to retire. 

LindaAndrews
LindaAndrews

@scepterandisle Read above a cure was found for MD and they didn't want Jerry Lewis to announce it, sad since he did all the work and raised all the money to find a cure.

BobAshbaugh
BobAshbaugh

Cure found, Jerry Lewis knew it, but there's no Money in it...and the MDA cut him out to keep his quite.


thetenofus
thetenofus

I always said:

"You need to know when to quit".

He was funny (sort off) when I was 19 But NOw!!!!

He is just not funny.

Give it a rest.

GeorgeSchadel
GeorgeSchadel

Doing what they did to Jerry was the most despicable thing I have ever seen!  He IS the face of MDA and there is no way they raised more money than he a year after he was forced out.  That is just a flat out lie.  People still watched the telethon every year.  They got the message and they donated.  These 40+ diseases attack any and everyone.  They do not discriminate and there is absolutely NO government money (not one penny) spent on research.  It ALL comes from the donations that Jerry worked so hard and so long for.  The truly sad thing about this is that now MDA is receiving millions less in donations after they forced out Mr. Lewis and the only ones who suffer then are the ones stricken with these diseases. you know.....JERRY'S KIDS! Because that's who they are.  Every one of them.

feeg3gf3e
feeg3gf3e

Clash of Clans Triche Sans surprise, il ya un soupçon d'Amazon dans l'air à la poste ces jours. Toute expérience qui promet d'apporter à des millions de nouveaux lecteurs est encouragé et payé. Bezos raisonne qu'une fois que le message a pénétré dans la vie de millions d'Américains, les bénéfices seront en quelque sorte matérialiser sur leur propre. Il a appliqué le même raisonnement se tourner Amazon dans le plus grand détaillant d'Internet du monde, révolutionnant la consommation et, avec le Kindle, la façon dont nous lisons des livres.   Pirater Clash of Clans

JessicaTerry
JessicaTerry

Hello,

Am Jessica by name My ex-boyfriend dumped me 6 months ago after I 
accused him of seeing someone else and insulting him. I want him back in
my life but he refuse to have any contact with me.I was so confuse and 
don't know what to do,
a friend of mine introduce me to  Dr Ayelala by giving me his email, i never believed until 
I contact him and explain my problem to him and he cast a spell for me and assure me after 3days that my ex will return
to me and to my greatest surprise the third day my ex came knocking on my 
door and beg for forgiveness. I am so happy that my love is back again and not 
only that,we got MARRIED.all thanks to Dr Ayelala. If you have a 
similar problem please contact him on doctorspellsolution@hotmail.com

DavisBrown
DavisBrown

I'm Davis brown from USA. My wife left me for no reason on 13th of June 2010. She moved in with another man, I felt like killing myself and I've tried so many spell casters but all to no avail. My life was very bitter and sorrowful. Then one day, a friend of mine told me about this spell caster called DR OGBIDI who helped her on her own situation when her husband left her. But at first i didn't believe it because i' have tested so many of them and it didn't work. she begged me further so I decided to try this spell caster called DR OGBIDI . I contacted him and i told him my problems and gave him all the necessary information he required. He just laughed and told me never to worry that my WIFE will call me back in less than two days and i believed, and after he has finished casting the spell my WIFE called me and started begging. She apologized and came back to me crying for a second chance. Today i and my wife and my two lovely kids are living happily like never before. I can really say that this spell caster is powerful because of his work my wife is home again. I'm now a very happy man and ever since she has shown me love like never before. Thank you DR OGBIDI I will forever be grateful to you. You can reach him on his email:

drogbidisolutionhome@gmail.com or drogbidisolutionhome@yahoo.co.uk he will solve any problem you are facing now. Just contact him and see his work. once again thank you DR OGBIDI

DavisBrown
DavisBrown


I'm Davis brown from USA. My wife left me for no reason on 13th of June 2010. She moved in with another man, I felt like killing myself and I've tried so many spell casters but all to no avail. My life was very bitter and sorrowful. Then one day, a friend of mine told me about this spell caster called DR OGBIDI who helped her on her own situation when her husband left her. But at first i didn't believe it because i' have tested so many of them and it didn't work. she begged me further so I decided to try this spell caster called DR OGBIDI . I contacted him and i told him my problems and gave him all the necessary information he required. He just laughed and told me never to worry that my WIFE will call me back in less than two days and i believed, and after he has finished casting the spell my WIFE called me and started begging. She apologized and came back to me crying for a second chance. Today i and my wife and my two lovely kids are living happily like never before. I can really say that this spell caster is powerful because of his work my wife is home again. I'm now a very happy man and ever since she has shown me love like never before. Thank you DR OGBIDI I will forever be grateful to you. You can reach him on his email: 
drogbidisolutionhome@gmail.com or 
drogbidisolutionhome@yahoo.co.uk he will solve any problem you are facing now. Just contact him and see his work. once again thank you DR OGBIDI

KarenLola
KarenLola

Am Karen Lola from Scotland. I was having serious relationship problems with my boyfriend and it had resulted in him moving out to his friend’s apartment. Everything got worse because he started going to bars and strip clubs frequently with his friend, getting drunk and passing out. He always threatens me on phone whenever I call him because of all the bad advises that his friend has given him. I really love him and we had been dating for 8 years which gave us a beautiful daughter. I had also lost a lot of money on therapists until I was introduced to Dr. Trust  by a friend whom he helped to marry her childhood boyfriend; this gave me total confidence and strength to get him back. I did all he asked and after  48 hours my boyfriend called me and rushed back home, things just changed between us emotionally. He has a job and stopped drinking and keeping irrelevant friends. It’s a miracle I never believed was possible because I had lost all hope until I found Dr.Trust. So that’s why I promised to share my testimony all over the universe. All thanks goes to Dr.Trust for the excessive work that he has done for me. Below is the email address in situation you are undergoing a heart break, and I assure you that as he has done mine for me, he will definitely help you too. Ultimatespellcast@gmail.com or ultimatespellcast@yahoo.com call him +2348156885231  


SmithReggie
SmithReggie

Jerry Lewis is under a non-disclosure agreement, he was ousted because he went to MDA with information concerning a cure. They told him we won't make any money if we find a cure and they fired him on the spot. Google this, Dr. Wallach a veterinarian and Naturopathic doctor, discovered a selenium deficiency in almish communities is connected with their high rates of MD. He also could reverse MD in animals by injecting them with Selenium. Honest truth here people. Money is the root of all evil.

IkewenJide
IkewenJide

.I am Alice from New York USA,I want to use this golden opportunity to appreciate the great spell caster called Dr.makuta for helping me get back my relationship with my ex lover when he ended and turned his back on me for quite a long period of time. Dr.makuta performed a spell for me and within 48 hours after the spell had been cast i receive a call from my ex saying that he is sorry for hurting me and that he will not do such thing to me in his life again, I was surprised but later accepted him back. Anyone that is in the same line of problem or having difficulties in there marriages or any part of life should contact Dr.makuta email address:makutaspelltemple@gmail.com OR +2348110035171 .

IkewenJide
IkewenJide

I am Alice from New York USA,I want to use this golden opportunity to appreciate the great spell caster called Dr.makuta for helping me get back my relationship with my ex lover when he ended and turned his back on me for quite a long period of time. Dr.makuta performed a spell for me and within 48 hours after the spell had been cast i receive a call from my ex saying that he is sorry for hurting me and that he will not do such thing to me in his life again, I was surprised but later accepted him back. Anyone that is in the same line of problem or having difficulties in there marriages or any part of life should contact Dr.makuta email address:makutaspelltemple@gmail.com OR +2348110035171

bouchardemil
bouchardemil





I will love to share my testimony to all the people in this site because i never thought i will have my girlfriend back and she means so much to me..The girl i want to get marry to left me four weeks to our wedding for another man..,When i called her she never picked my calls, She deleted me on her facebook and she changed her facebook status from married to Single…when i went to her to her place of work she never want to see me..I was confuse as a result of this because i cant get myself anymore, my life was upside down and everything did not go smooth with my life…I tried all i could do to have her back to all did not work out until i came across a spiritual man when i was browsing online.. I told him my problem and all have passed through in getting her back…he told me he gonna help me… he said he will cast a spell for me and i will see the results in the next couple of hours… My girlfriend called me at exactly 12:35pm on Thursday and apologies for all she had done ..she said,she never knew what she’s doing and her sudden behavior was not intentional and she promised not to do that again.it was like am dreaming when i heard that from her and when we ended the call,i called the man and told him my wife called and he said i haven’t seen anything yet… My life is back into shape,i have my girlfriend back and we are happily married now with kids and i have my job back too.This man is really powerful..if we have up to 20 people like him in the world,the world would have been a better place..he has also helped many of my friends to solve many problems and they are all happy now..Am posting this to this site for anybody that is interested in meeting the man for help.you can mail him to agumaguspelltemple@gmail.com hope he helped u out too..good luck


TomDuCharme
TomDuCharme

I Have been a Jerry's kid for 40 years. I think the money is going to the wrong places. They no longer help kids get wheelchairs AND A LOT OF OTHER THINGS THEY USE TO HELP WITH. I know because i have M.D. All the time I've  been going to the M.D. clinics for 30 years and never have heard or got any kind of drug that will help, so if they have a cure they are keeping it very quite. I am very mad also that they pissed off Jerry and i know longer  go to the clinics. I still give. 

RhondelWilson
RhondelWilson

Jerry Lewis got fired because Dr Wallach presented him with a years of research and practical evidence of a cure for MDA and he presented the information to the MDA foundation with the intention of announcing that a cure had been found. They fired him because of this because then there would be no more telethons and no more money being collected. 

myhostingteam
myhostingteam

@RhondelWilson 

EXCELLENT Answer! You're correct sir!

Dr. Wallach sued the FDA 8 times and won each time. What does this have to do with anything? If you read this, go google Dr. Joel Wallach and you will be amazed at how stupid your Doctor is.

rpsabq
rpsabq

the telethon was never about the kids, get real.  It was always and still is about Jerry f-ing Lewis.  Shut up and go change your diaper old man.

LukeCage
LukeCage

@rpsabq Wrong, dumbass.  Its because a cure WAS found but since that meant no more telethons and $$$$, he was fired. 

myhostingteam
myhostingteam

@LukeCage @rpsabq 

Luke, you are totally correct! It's due to nutrient deficiency in the body. Wallach is not under the spell of the american medical association and tells the truth that doctors cannot.

If you don't understand this, go check out this fine Dr. by the name of Dr. Joel Wallach.

leona
leona

every year since I was a little girl my parents had us kids (8) of us watch the Jerry Lewis labor day telethon. I'm now 56 yrs old today, and surprise that the telethon is no longer on television, hosted by Jerry Lewis. I've been told when I was little that I should be happy, and greatful that I was born a healthy child, and the purpose for this labor day telethon is to help others who has a medical disability (MDA) Muscular Distrophy. help raise money to help others find a cure for this dease. My mother a nurse for many years, my father a heavy equipment operater , has given us kids the most wounderful childhood life any child would want. we was not rich, nor was we poor. we have been raised by the best parents in our lives, and taught us how to be thankful, & greatful that we are alive & well. Always teach others to respect and "LOVE" know matter what circumstances always "LOVE" 

GenevraViens
GenevraViens

I feel Jerry Lewis should have remained doing the telethon, due to the love, and hard work he has given all these years. I will not donate no longer, until I see Jerry return. Not that I don't care no longer, but the trust, and sincere dedication that Jerry has given, is no longer there. He was the one who made that telethon so successful, and now, it's gone. He spent years of his life doing this amazing telethon for his kids, and made alot of dreams come true, and now, the way I see it, is YES, his viewers are hurting, and so is Jerry, but Jerry's kids are the ones that are suffering, all of Jerry's kids, that he made feel special, and worthy of themselves, no longer have that without Jerry. He is an Angel sent from Heaven, and ya'll should reconsider, and bring our Angel back to the telethon. He has the right to remain the chairman. His viewers, and Jerry's kids miss him, and I will not even watch the telethon without him. Jerry, thank you for the many years of love, and great telethons you presented, I have always looked forward to Labor Day, cause I knew the telethon was on, and that one dollar more would have been made. Please bring Jerry back, so that our future "Jerry's Kids" can have the HOPE, and SPECIAL LOVE that Jerry has to offer. I love you Jerry Lewis, and the good Lord above has very special things in store for you, and to let you know, my Labor Day is not the same without your telethon. They should be ashamed of themselves, for hurting you, and your viewers, but most of all, for hurting your KIDS. There is no one who can fill your shoes, today, tomorrow, NOT EVER. I pray you will be back on Your telethon next year. I love you Jerry, You are amazing.

myhostingteam
myhostingteam

@GenevraViens 

Jerry stood up for the truth that Dr. Wallach presented to him and that is why he got fired. I'm sure they promised to make life bad for him if he speaks about it and that is more than likely why Jerry won't speak about it.

marthadelaney14
marthadelaney14

I feel for them I would not donate because jerry lewis is not on the show channel 7 shame on you

LukeCage
LukeCage

@NafbatComment YOU are the dumbass.  Lewis found out that there was a cure but when he presented it to the MDA, they fired him because it mean no more telethons and lost MILLION$, idiot. 

myhostingteam
myhostingteam

@LukeCage @NafbatComment 

Luke is totally correct! It's due to nutrient deficiency in the body. Dr. Wallach is not under the spell of the american medical association and tells the truth that doctors cannot.

If you don't understand this, go check out this fine Dr. by the name of Dr. Joel Wallach who can tell you how to CURE MD.

LoriAnderson
LoriAnderson

This is the thanks he gets for everything he has done for them? How cruel and heartless can they be! MD has lost all faith I had in them. Shows just how much they really care about those who are suffering from this disease.

CyndamarieAdkinsGunn
CyndamarieAdkinsGunn

Jerry Lewis did not step down . that is a media LIE !   He was fired because he wouldn't kiss the  butts of the producers ..  I think it is discusting and  a real shame , this man did this for 60 plus years.  and he was kicked to the curb .  now,  MDA telethon is what 4 hours...   it's a joke.    People who suffer with this illness deserve more..  You all can have a telethon for Haiti and raise a few billion dollars. .ask to help your own fellow american's  and we get a couple million ..Cheers... (one real pissed off MD suffer) 

JamesAnastos
JamesAnastos

I used to work for him many years ago and what I know he was very sick at the time when I knew him

chuck.knoblauch.2base
chuck.knoblauch.2base

Jerry found out that MS is caused by a mineral deficiency. It is not a genetic disorder. Jerry learned a lesson in true evil and left.

TimLena
TimLena

my name is jim lena.I am really pleased with this service. I am one of those people who said, “I’ll never call a psychic or a magician or whatever” to help me with my problems – least of all my love problems, but I reached the point where I knew I needed some guidance, and I’m so glad I found this man called dr.zaba. I never in a million years would have thought I’d be writing a letter like this, but when I nearly lost Andrew in one of our stupid,fights (he broke up with me), I thought I had lost everything.i cry all day and think that he will never come back to me again.i read a testimony by a man called zerek paul about him saying that how dr.zaba help him to get back is EX wife within 48n hours.I qiuckly email him.and also get back my husand with his love spell. And when I was at my most desperate,he didn’t take advantage of me. You performed a very good service for a person in true need. I don’t know how you did it, or how this magic works, but all I know is, IT WORKS!! Andrew my husband and I are happily back together, and I’ll always be grateful to dr.zaba email him for any kinds of help is very capable and reliable for help(Makiaderspelltemple@hotmail.com) 

Hooty13
Hooty13

It was 45 years too long with Jerry Lewis--ego as big as the universe.  How much money did ever contribute to the MDA?  Find the answer and you'll know what I'm talking about!