Jerry Lewis has one more Muscular Dystrophy telethon in him.
The 85-year-old star, who has helped raise more than $1 billion for the disease since starting his iconic fundraisers in 1966, said the upcoming telethon in September will be his last. Lewis has health and medical issues of his own, including pulmonary fibrosis, a bad heart and a debilitating back condition.
"As a labor of love, I've hosted the annual Telethon since 1966 and I'll be making my final appearance on the show this year by performing my signature song, 'You'll Never Walk Alone,'" Lewis said.
Lewis' first live Labor Day weekend telethon in 1966 raised more than $1 million in pledges. Last year's affair, held in Las Vegas and broadcast on more than 170 stations, raised nearly $60 million. Lewis' TV extravaganzas have shown his star power over the years. In 1976, he used the telethon to air a reunion with estranged buddies Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.
Muscular Dystrophy Association President Gerald Weinberg called Lewis a great humanitarian.
"All of us who've been privileged to work beside him, and the hundreds of thousands throughout the world affected by the myriad of muscle diseases MDA battles, will acknowledge in our hearts forever the unrivaled role Jerry has played in our lives and the lives of all Americans," Weinberg said.