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It was confirmed today that Jerry Lewis, who has hosted the MDA Labor Day telethon since 1966, has been relieved of his hosting duties and will not be present at this year's event. Let's be honest here: yes, the telethon is a great event that has raised billions for the fight against muscular dystrophy – but, those are a lot of hours to fill every year and most of those hours are filled with, well, filler. But! Over the course of the last 45 years, there have been many, many memorable moments. Look: John Lennon! KISS! The Jackson 5! Joan Crawford and her daughter – a daughter who would in the future write 'Mommie Dearest.'
So, to commemorate Mr. Lewis's contribution to society (and popular culture), here are five memorable moments from his telethon.
Reunion with Dean Martin – 1976
Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis ended their comedy partnership in 1956 after Martin, feeling underappreciated, noticed that most of the attention was being paid to the manic Lewis. In 1976, orchestrated by Ol' Blue Eyes himself, Martin, cigarette in hand, (and possibly a tad sauced) made a surprise appearance on Lewis' telethon. This was the first public appearance featuring the two stars in 20 years.
John Lennon Sings 'Imagine' – 1972
Only a couple years after the Beatles breakup, John Lennon appeared on Lewis' telethon to sing a song off of his latest solo album of the same name, 'Imagine.'
Joan and Christina Crawford – 1968
So! This is kind of awkward. "Where's the girl?" Lewis asks Joan Crawford. "Oh," Crawford responds, "you were told about her." Yes, he was. And, in ten years, we all will be quite familiar with Christina Crawford who would write the best selling takedown of Joan's parenting skills, 'Mommie Dearest.' As soon as Christina comes on stage, watch as Joan pretty abruptly drags Christina off of the stage while barking, "We have work to do. Come on." Yikes.
KISS Wants You to Fight Against Muscular Dystrophy – 1979
Hey, we all love KISS. But there's something peculiar about hearing about the grave effects of a debilitating disease from Peter Criss while he's wearing cat makeup. Also, if you wait until the end, Jerry Lewis is not a fan of KISS's stylistic choices.
The Jackson 5 Perform 'Dancing Machine' – 1974
If there were ever a doubt about Michael Jackson's talent, watch this clip of a post adolescent,
pre strange adult Jackson absolutely killing it with his dance moves during the telethon.