It’s been nearly half a century, but after this coming Labor Day, comedian and actor Jerry Lewis will no longer host the annual Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon.
The 85-year-old announced his retirement from the event in a May 16 statement.
“As a labor of love, I’ve hosted the annual Telethon since 1966,” he says. “I’ll be making my final appearance on the show this year by performing my signature song, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
The epic, 21-and-a-half hour telethon has reportedly raised nearly $2.5 billion to help cure muscular dystrophy since it began. For Lewis’ last year, it will be cut down to just a six-hour primetime telecast — a change they organization will presumably keep after his departure.
Lewis maintains that his departure doesn’t mean he’s abandoning the cause, though. “I’ll continue to serve MDA as its National Chairman,” he says, “as I’ve done since the early 1950s. I’ll never desert MDA and my kids.”