Tags: jerry lewis | muscular dystrophy | telethon | ends

Jerry Lewis' Muscular Dystrophy Telethon to End After Nearly 60 Years

By    |   Monday, 04 May 2015 10:26 AM

The Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon, hosted by Jerry Lewis for nearly 55 years, has officially ended, the organization announced on its website last week.

The decision to end the telethon — which was shortened from 21 and a half hours to just two hours last year — was cemented by the success of campaigns like last year's viral Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS.

"The decision to end our beloved telethon was not made lightly," MDA President Steven M. Derks said in a statement. "In the last few years, the show was adjusted to reflect changes in viewership and donor patterns, and last summer's Ice Bucket Challenge once again affirmed for us that today's families, donors, and sponsors are looking to us for new, creative, and organic ways to support our mission."

The Ice Bucket Challenge went viral on social media with everyone from NBA superstar LeBron James to President George W. Bush issuing challenges to donate to ALS in addition to pouring iced water over their heads. The videos helped raise more than $100 million in one month, according to Reuters.

The MDA stated that it plans to "invest more in digital and mobile channels for consumer engagement and activation."

The MDA telethon, a Labor Day staple in American households since it first aired in 1956, was emceed by the legendary comedian Jerry Lewis until 2010, according to the website.

It became a gathering place for a wide variety of celebrities who donated their time to perform on the show, from Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., John Lennon, and Michael Jackson to younger talent like Carrie Underwood, Pitbull, Luke Bryan, will.i.am, and Jennifer Lopez.

"And it was thrilling to watch the numbers on the tote board ring up like a slot-machine jackpot as money poured in for the cause so near and dear to Lewis' heart," wrote Ann Oldenburg of USA Today. "It became a personal endurance test for Lewis, who never said why he was so involved. He usually ended the event by singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone.'"

A reformatted two-hour MDA telethon, rebranded as "Show of Strength," raised $56.9 million over the Labor Day weekend last year, according to Reuters. Before that, the telethon was a 21-hour event, starting on Sunday night and ending Monday afternoon.

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The Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon, hosted by Jerry Lewis for nearly 55 years, has officially ended, the organization announced on its website last week.
jerry lewis, muscular dystrophy, telethon, ends
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2015-26-04
Monday, 04 May 2015 10:26 AM
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