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Jerry Lewis retiring as host of MDA telethon

May 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Comedian Jerry Lewis has announced he's retiring as host of the Muscular Dystrophy Association Annual Labor Day Telethon.

The 85-year-old's name has become synonymous with the telethon, which he has hosted since 1966. Lewis issued a statement through the association calling it "time for an all new Telethon era."

"I'll be making my final appearance on the show this year by performing my signature song, `You'll Never Walk Alone,"' Lewis said of a shortened six-hour primetime broadcast scheduled for Sept. 4.

Lewis, a Las Vegas resident, has in recent years battled a debilitating back condition, heart issues and the crippling lung disease pulmonary fibrosis. He said he'll continue serving as national Muscular Dystrophy Association chairman, as he's done since the early 1950s.

A spokesperson for MDA says more than $1 billion has been raised during telethons over the years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.