Here Comes the MDA's Non-Jerry Lewis Non-Telethon

The legendary fundraiser gets with the times
Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Jerry Lewis perform during the 11th annual Jerry Lewis telethon for muscular dystrophy research in 1976 in Las Vegas Photograph by Fotos International/Getty Images

For 45 years, the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon was, as advertised, a televised fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association hosted each Labor Day weekend by Jerry Lewis that went on for the better part of a day. Viewers who were so inclined could count on seeing funnyman Lewis test the limits of his stamina, sweat, loosen his tuxedo collar, flub lines, and dip into his bag of, shall we say, old-fashioned jokes. Last year that began to change. The MDA said farewell to Lewis, opting instead for a quartet of co-hosts, and cut the telethon back to six hours. This year, as part of a continuing effort to get with the times, it’s dropping the telethon label entirely.

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