Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Jerry Lewis..."out" as MDA Telethon host! "Kids" complained about Jerry's conduct!
When it was announced last week that Jerry Lewis (who once played a foil alongside Dean Martin in the mediums of stage, film, and television) was being dropped as host of the Muscular Dystophy Telethon, I wasn't surprised in the least.
Frankly, I wondered why Mr. Lewis wasn't dropped a couple of years ago when a petition was being signed to oust him as host when it came to light that the superstar was being accused of engaging in reprehensible conduct in public (and elsewhere) which was detrimental to the MDA telethon.
For me, the intrigue reared its ugly head after I published a post in which I noted that Mr. Lewis was receiving the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences for his alleged compassionate humanitarian acts.
The Jean Hersholt Award is given periodically to an individual in the film business whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.
My original post on the honor was published on January 28th (2009).
Like most everyone at the time, I thought the recognition was deserving, in view of Mr. Lewis's long-standing association with the MDA Telethon.
Subsequently, I was quite shocked when a handful of individuals contacted me by e-mail, and proceeded to protest the honor being bestowed on the celebrated star of such films as "The King of Comedy".
In one e-mail , a gentleman who identified himself as Ben Mattlin, lamented as follows:
"Regarding your blog about Jerry Lewis' receiving the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, you and your readers should know that many of us object to it. He frequently calls people with disabilities, whom he supposedly helps, "cripples". He refers to gay men as "fags" and has said that women are nothing more than baby-making machines. Moreover, his annual telethon exploits kids with disabilities to garner pity as a fundraising tool, despite the constant entreaties of the disability community to stop the pity campaign. It does more harm than good. But Lewis and his organization have refused to work with our community. Instead, Lewis has threatened to have his critics killed. Lewis is no humanitarian and does not deserve this prize. It is an insult to people with disabilities, the gay rights movement and the memory of Jean Hersholt."
In closing, Mr. Mattlin stressed that he'd be happy to discuss the issues further with interested parties.
Mr. Mattlin also provided a link to a web site where an online petition has been posted for other like-minded individuals to voice their disapproval.
According to the webmaster at the site, over 2400 individuals had already signed the petition, which called on the Academy to cancel its plans to give Lewis the humanitarian award.
At least twelve organizations, including the American Association of People with Disabilities and the Disability Rights Center, endorsed the "The Trouble with Jerry" petition to be submitted to the Motion Picture Academy in advance of the Oscar ceremony.
At this juncture, I proceeded to post a follow-up expose on the issue, and invited Mr. Lewis to respond to the accusations.
Mr. Lewis did not take me up on my offer.
Just prior to the event, industry-insiders (and the public-at-large) speculated that Mr. Lewis would surely make a statement to set the record straight when he appeared to accept the prestigious award.
Surprisingly, the comic elected to ignore the issue!
To many, that was a nasty slap in the face.
In view of the fact Jerry Lewis is stepping down now, without comment or explanation, I am inclined to surmise that the past has finally caught up with the once-respected showman.
For example, I vaguely recall that a big brouhaha erupted in the press many years ago, when Lewis was accused of name-calling and engaging in questionable (distasteful) tactics to raise much-needed funds for the respected Muscular Dystrophy Association each year at the Labor Day week-end telethon.
In his defense, at the time, the comic asserted for the record that comments he may have made were not intended to be mean-spirited, nor were they uttered up with the express purpose of putting-down or insulting any one individual.
Mr. Mattlin complained, in response, that Jerry and his organization have always refused to work with the community in respect to the disturbing allegations.
“Pity and charity, as practiced by Jerry Lewis, undermine our equality."
One outrageous remark Lewis allegedly uttered up - "a disabled person is just “half a person" - infuriated many, too.
In response to his disabled critics, the Telethon host snarled back:
“You don’t want to be pitied because you’re a cripple in a wheelchair? Stay in your house!”
In view of the foregoing, it appears that Mr. Lewis may have to clear the air once and for all.
Once again, I offer Mr. Lewis the opportunity to tell his side of things at The Tattler site, in the event he feels the facts have been distorted or misrepresented (and with the ultimate aim of setting the record straight).
The ousted MDA Host may e-mail his comments to:
In the alternative, Jerry may post his response directly to this site, by facilitating the "comment" function below.
.Albert Schweitzer once said:
"Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly, even if they roll a few stones upon it."
Officials at the Muscular Dystrophy Association have announced that Jerry Lewis will return to his hosting duties this year.