As the years progressed, things changed. Lewis got older and his health started to fail. Ed McMahon died. They cut the show back from 21 hours to just two hours.
Now they've ended the telethon altogether:H/T Alan Colmes
The Muscular Dystrophy Association is ending its annual Labor Day telethon, a television tradition for decades that has slowly disappeared from view since the sudden end of Jerry Lewis' role as host following the 2010 show.
The telethon was a relic from a different age, a tuxedoed Lewis oozing show biz schmaltz and hosting stars from Frank Sinatra to Jennifer Lopez over 45 years, pushing through his exhaustion to sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" as a tote board rang up millions of dollars in donations.
From 21 and a half hours in Lewis' final year, the show had been reduced to two hours the last two years on ABC.
"It's not a 21-hour world anymore," said Steve Ford, MDA executive vice president, on Friday.
With television time costly, the MDA's fundraising efforts will move primarily online, he said. The success of a viral event like "The Ice Bucket Challenge" proves this is a potent area for philanthropy, he said.