Television has few traditions as strongly ingrained as the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon.
Adults who used to watch as kids now introduce their own children to the 21 1/2-hour, star-studded variety show that simultaneously entertains, informs and raises funds for the service and research programs of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
First broadcast over Labor Day weekend in 1966 by a lone TV station in New York City, the unique event starring popular comedian Jerry Lewis quickly caught the public’s attention - and raised more than $1 million in pledges.
Now, 39 years later, the show will be broadcast by some 200 MDA "Love Network" stations, assisted by nearly a million volunteers across the country. This will be WLOX-TV's 12th year to air the telethon.
In 1998, the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon made history as the first telethon seen around the world via Internet simulcast, hosted by RealNetworks on MDA's Web site.
An "interactive" show long before the computer age popularized the term, the Telethon’s drama comes from the ever-increasing fund-raising total posted on the tote board - by hand in 1966, now electronically.
Jerry's goal of raising "one dollar more" than the previous year’s amount has been more than met almost every year, thanks to the generosity and compassion of the American public. Last year’s record total was $60.5 million.
Quick Facts about the Telethon