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Tuesday
Sep062011

MDA Raises $61.5 Million During Labor Day Telethon Sans Jerry Lewis

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Jerry Lewis was noticeably absent from the 46th annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Labor Day Telethon, but the organization still raised nearly $61.5 million during its six-hour broadcast on Sunday.

The MDA said it was an increase of $2.5 million from last year's telethon, which was more than 21 hours long.

Not long after the broadcast began, telethon co-hosts Nigel Lythgoe, Alison Sweeney, Nancy O'Dell and Jann Carl saluted the 85-year-old actor and comedian, who was removed as MDA national chairman earlier this year.

Lythgoe, an executive producer of American Idol and a judge on So You Think You Can Dance, remarked, "It isn't possible, Jerry, to replace you, sir."

Lewis had hosted the MDA telethon since its debut in 1966.  He announced in May that he would be making his final appearance on the telethon this year, but the MDA later said he would not be back.

This year's telethon included performances by Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride and Bon Jovi's Richie Sambora, as well as appearances by the co-hosts of ABC's The View, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest and Idol judges Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson.

In honor of Lewis, the Los Angeles comedy club The Laugh Factory held its own fundraiser for muscular dystrophy on Monday, streaming performances of Dave Chappelle and other comics online while accepting donations from viewers.

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ABC News Radio