Ah, it’s Labor Day. When I think of Labor Day, I usually picture that wheelchair that would light up according to how busy the phones were on the annual Jerry Lewis Telethon. For real. Muscular Dystrophy is largely what I associate with Labor Day. I watched that telethon EVERY year. I mean, I’d start watching it Sunday evening and would sleep in front of the tv. I always called in some sort of donation so I could see my name scroll across the bottom. All those years and I never ONCE saw my name on the bottom of the screen.
They always had a remote at some mall in Bowling Green and they’d be on all night with people bringing donations in and I always thought that would be the coolest…to go to Bowling Green. Hush, I was a kid.
Something else I always thought would be the bomb would be having an MDA Carnival. I pictured the Collie Backyard turning into a festival of face painting, a dunking machine, clowns….it never made it past the fantasy stage.
I loved the telethon cause you always got good entertainment. Sometime in the middle of the night, a tired Jerry Lewis would loosen his tie and go into his “Hey LAAAAADY” mode. He always had people like Sinatra,
Sammy, Liza, big time people. Imagine my horror to turn it on this morning and it appears to be Billy Gilman’s baby. Eh. Where’s Ed? He hasn’t died in the last couple days, has he? Is Jerry even there? I think it’s more a thing now because of Jerry’s advanced age and health troubles, that he more or less makes an appearance. They do have Tony Orlando though.
In its day, it was great entertainment and it’s still a great cause. Jerry’s full of doo doo lots of times but I’ve always thought he was extremely sincere in his passion for funding research for MD. He’d always close the telethon with “Walk On” and he’d sing and just boo hoo.
Channel 5 doesn’t even air the telethon anymore. I think it moved to the Fox affiliate. It’s just not the same. Channel 5 was into it. Chris Clark was into it. I can remember that boy, Chris Bond, who eventually succumbed to MD, was something of a local celebrity. It was a big deal for years here but doesn’t seem to be now. That’s a shame. Almost as much a shame that Billy Gilman is hosting.
This historical clip was from the telethon in 1976 when Dean Martin showed up, making it the first time in 20 years he and Jerry had seen each other. Sinatra put it together. Sadly, they didn’t start hanging out again after this. I don’t think they spoke until Dean’s son died in the late 80′s. Still, it’s a beautiful reunion everybody wanted to see and thanks to Frank, we got to see it.
**Ed’s on! I hate to say it, but, he appears to know not where he is.