In what might be the biggest case of ingratitude since we failed to send the French a note thanking them for the Statue of Liberty, the MDA has tied a can to Jerry Lewis. The 85-year-old Lewis had announced that this year's telethon would be his last, and he planned to sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" one last time and then walk off, alone.
Then, a month before the final telethon, the nabobs at the Muscular Dystrophy Association, beneficiaries of over a billion dollars raised over the past 60 years by Jerry, said that he had "completed his run as their national chairman" and "will not appear on this year's telethon."
In other words, AMF! (Adios, my friend). A dear John letter, the classic "Welcome to Dumpville, population: YOU!", don't let the door hit you on your way out. And would you mind taking your stuff with you? Your patent leather tap shoes, your gag eyeglasses, your 1/2-filled bottle of Vitalis?
|Jerry as Buddy Love|
My father once observed that no one on this earth loves Jerry Lewis more than I, with the exception of Jerry Lewis. To me, he is like Krusty the Klown, our imperfect jester, hero to the French, slightly irascible, showbiz to the core. Krusty, born Herschel Shmoikel Pinchas Yerucham Krustofski, had a father who was a rabbi. Jerry, born Joseph Levitch, had a father who was a third-rate vaudeville performer who nonetheless regarded all of Jerry's success with a chip on his shoulder. (Jerry bought him a Cadillac, and his father, who went by the showbiz name Danny Lewis, said, by way of thanks, "So what's the matter; you couldn't afford a convertible, Mr Big Shot?")
I know I have mentioned a thousand times that when Jerry came to BMore to appear in "Damn Yankees," Peggy and I went with my parents, and when Jerry, cast against type as the Devil, appeared on the stage as a puff of smoke wisped away, I joined the throng in a standing ovation. I was in fact the Last Man Standing, applauding his genius and goodness, until my father tugged on my pant leg and whispered, "Will you please sit down?"
I'll stand up for Jerry any time, and have already written to the MDA to express my sadness. Why would they not allow him one last encore? What more fitting tribute to a man widely regarded as America's Greatest Entertainer than to allow him just one more bow? For now, though, let's join in a toast to a great man and a "mahvelous pehfohmeh"!